Cardiff's centenary

January 21, 2005 ,

“WORTH the licence fee alone” is a phrase used to describe the best BBC programmes.

It’s true of “The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon” on BBC2 tonight at 9.00 pm.

These programmes feature remarkable films made a century ago, before cinemas existed.
Two pioneers filmed scenes of daily life from the factory gates to football matches.

The films were shown at fairgrounds with the billing “see yourself as others see you”.
They lay undiscovered for 80 years in the cellar of a shop in Blackburn, before being found by chance and restored.

They were made at a time of exciting technological change and new prosperity; the same time when Cardiff was granted city status by King Edward VII.

Most featured the town and cities of the North of England, but they spark the imagination of how similar Cardiff must have been.

It was a time of new buildings like the City Hall and National Museum.
It was a time of the spread of sport as a leisure activity.
Tonight’s programme will show the first ever footage filmed of Manchester United, but not, sadly, of Wales’ triumph over the All Blacks in 1905, by a single controversial try.

With Cardiff’s double celebration this year of its centenary as a city and 50 years as Wales capital, this is a time to look back with pride at our city’s history.
A good starting point is to visit the exhibition at the Old Library.

But we should also be proud of Cardiff’s present and future.

Next week at Welsh questions I will ask the Secretary of State, Peter Hain, to acknowledge the success of the new Cardiff, confident that MPs from all over the UK now see Cardiff as a modern vibrant city, not a lost relic of Edwardian Britain.