Edgar Pritchard: Island life


Edgar Pritchard in a self-portrait. Clearly a remarkable and talented man.

Phew – back to some local history at last – and what special history this is!

There is a continually unfolding thread here about one of the great sons of Brownhills, who was up until the last few months, relatively unknown in his hometown. Today, I can share another couple of Edgar Pritchard’s films – the first one, in colour and sound which was made in 1953, profiles the artist Brenda Irene Chamberlain (1912-71) who was at the time resident in Bardsey, an island off the coast of Wales that Edgar adored.

Edgar Ewart Pritchard – Brother of Syd – was a noted and talented amateur filmmaker who was recognised by the British film industry for his remarkable skill and ability within his lifetime, but has since slipped into obscurity. Thanks to blog contributors David Evans, Reg ‘Aer Reg’ Fullelove, Edgar’s relative (resident in Aldridge) Margaret Thompson and Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler, we have been able to piece together the lost story of this remarkably creative man.

A couple of weeks ago, reader Stuart found the Edgar Pritchard Film The Island Artist at the BFI archive, and thanks to a better set of video tools, I can insert the film here – you can watch it at the foot of this post. Thanks to Stuart for his eagle eye!

There’s a double surprise, as the archive contains another film, clearly made at the same time, called ‘The Island in the Current’ which I shan’t extract from the archive out of respect, but you can watch here – I have to say, the audio on that one is quite difficult as the distortion is hard to listen to.

Does these films feature – albeit distorted and degraded by the age of the recordings – the voice of the filmmaker? Can anyone who knew him help please?

Edgar you’ll recall, made the Brownhills Carnival film, and the short features Hope Springs Eternal and The Poacher’ Apprentice, as featured here previously.

If you have anything to add, or a comment to make feel free – either on this post or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Collaborative local history at it’s best.

The BFI Archive said of the above film:

Edgar Ewart Pritchard, from Brownhills, Staffordshire, regularly visited Bardsey and here conveys an impression of the life lived there by artist/writer Brenda Chamberlain, from Bangor. In close proximity to the sea and the island’s farms, and with a broken marriage and WWII behind her, Brenda wrote and painted accompanied by two Siamese cats, a dog and a pony. She was awarded the gold medal for fine art at the National Eisteddfods in 1951 and 1953.

Edgar Ewart Pritchard (1898-1976) lived all his life with his younger brother in the house that their father, Thomas Pritchard, had had built before marriage to their mother Ellen. Edgar worked as an area surveyor for the National Coal Board but regularly escaped to Bardsey, an island he loved [see also his film ‘The Island in the Current’]. He won an Amateur Cine World Award (a silver camera) in 1954 for ‘Island Artist’. Brenda Irene Chamberlain (1912-71) lived on Bardsey from 1947 until 1962, after which time she moved to the Greek island of Hydra (1963-67) and then returned to Bangor. She suffered increasingly from depression and took her own life in 1971.

National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales preserves and celebrates the sound and moving image heritage of Wales, making it accessible to a wide range of users for enjoyment and learning. Its film collection reflects every aspect of the nation’s social, cultural and working life across the 20th century, giving a fascinating insight into Welsh filmmaking, both amateur and professional

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5 Responses to Edgar Pritchard: Island life

  1. John Hopkins says:

    That is an absolute gem, many times I’ve stood on the beach at Aberdaron looking at Bardsey but never been across. Thanks so much for putting that on.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    This is a beautiful film, expertly made and worthy of any professional film made today. To realise that is was made by just one man using his hand cranked home cine camera makes it very special.
    A huge thankyou to Stuart for his splendid research and especially to your goodself for your patience and effort to present this on your blog….very much appreciated.
    kind regards

    ps..who was the narrator, indeed!

  3. aerreg says:

    more memouries of dear old edgar as have said many times the family was part of my childhood because of my dad both in public life and also family every day life hence my knowledge of those days two stories stay in my mind first the award wining shot of the gull taking the fish edger was strapped to the side of the fishing boat to take it secondly he took the elderly couple he stayed with a radio powered by an accumulater and set it up on his return visit he took a new one only to be told they had not used the radio as it was to c

    old and windy the story evovled toget a good reception put the airel through an open window and the poor souls thought if they shut it would cut off the sound yes the pritchard story was part of my child hood dad was proud of them from the garden to the coppy and the memo god bless

  4. Pedro says:

    Bardsey Island best sky award.


  5. Reg Fullelove says:

    edger used to sped alot of time at bardsey he used to stay with an elderly couple i istill have memouries of the stories he told my father david who was a very close friend on his return the photo he recieved for an award was taken from a fishiig boat of a gull catching a piece of fish whiilst it was throw in the air on a very sunny day ican still see it in mind a lot of his work went to aberryworth archives

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