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Opening the Archive: creating a National Broadcast Archive for Wales


A ground-breaking £9million project to create a National Broadcast Archive for Wales is a significant step closer following confirmation of National Lottery support which could be worth nearly £5 million.

The National Library of Wales and BBC Wales can now develop ambitious plans to provide public access to the BBC Wales archive at four digital heritage hubs to be located at Aberystwyth, Wrexham, Carmarthen and Cardiff. In addition, a thousand programme clips will be available online for community use.

The archive has about 160,000 recordings which date back to the 1930s and forms an invaluable chronicle of the life of the nation encompassing the Second World War, Aberfan, the miners’ strike and the battles over devolution. Thanks to National Lottery players this important asset will also show how the BBC entertained as well as informed the public with sport, music, drama and comedy, providing a stage to talents and projects as varied as Grand Slam and Fo a Fe, Shirley Bassey and Meic Stevens, Saunders Lewis and Gwyn Thomas.

The President of the National Library of Wales, Rhodri Glyn Thomas said:

“We are delighted that the National Lottery has provided initial funding to develop this pioneering project and ensure that the BBC Wales archive will be accessible for public use. As the home of the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales, and with material from ITV Wales already at the Library, we intend to safeguard this vital source of our nation’s heritage for present and future generations. We are very grateful for the National Lottery’s support to develop our plans and to BBC Cymru Wales for transferring the archive to the Library.”

The catalyst for today’s announcement is the BBC’s decision to move to a new building in Cardiff city centre. As part of its move, BBC Wales is currently digitising around 160,000 radio and TV items which will be available for use by its production teams. In addition, the BBC and the National Library have been working together on a project that will eventually see all of the original recordings, together with digitised copies, deposited at the National Library in Aberystwyth.

BBC Wales is making a significant commitment through the digitisation of the archive and will now work with the National Library and other partners to ensure public access to the majority of the remaining broadcast material.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director BBC Wales said:

“BBC Wales’s archive is a central part of our nation’s identity and shared memory – reflecting the twists and turns of almost ninety years of life across communities the length and breadth of our country, in Welsh and English. This unprecedented partnership with the National Library of Wales and the National Lottery will make these extraordinary resources available to the entire Welsh public - a national broadcasting archive fit for the 21st century”.

Further Information

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Notes to Editors

  1. The proposal will create the first UK National Broadcast Archive with the majority of the BBC Cymru Wales broadcast and corporate archive transferred to the National Library of Wales. NLW already holds the ITV Wales and ITV West archive.
  2. BBC Cymru Wales has made a substantial commitment to digitise its archive and will provide public access where copyright permits at four Digital Heritage Hubs across Wales.
  3. Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has provided development funding to enable the National Library and BBC Cymru Wales to produce a detailed application and business plan by March 2018 for consideration of a £4.9m grant at a HLF Board meeting in 2018.