The 1900 Island
BBC One Wales/Network
A new living history series follows the fortunes of four modern day families as they head back over 100 years to the start of the twentieth Century to try their hand at living as a rural fishing community on the dramatic and wild tidal island of Llanddwyn off the coast of Anglesey. It’s a time of hand to mouth existence as the 4 families come face to face with the harsh realities of one of the toughest ways to make a living in 1900 Britain.
In Episode 1 the families must adapt quickly to their new way of life but bad weather, lack of experience and limited rations lead to hunger and frustrations and it’s only a last minute effort by the women that saves the day. Aside from the practical details of living in 1900, the families strive to forge a community to help each other through tough times and survive the extreme weather.
As the families enter their second week, the weather finally turns in their favour and the men head out to sea to try for a successful catch. The women are left with unrelenting domestic chores and the children head to school. But the fragile sense of community starts to fray as rivalries and hunger take their toll on the adults. As the going gets tough it becomes a challenge for them to try and keep together. Gavin Davies, in particular, struggles to feed his family and it’s only when a cargo boat comes calling that they all finally earn some much needed cash. A newcomer joins the village as he jumps ship.
In their third week, the 4 modern day families are still struggling with the reality of life over a century ago. They may have settled into 1900 life, but that doesn’t make life any easier. At the start of the week, the community seems at its most fragile as different priorities and approaches to life start to take shape.
As the weather picks up, the men head out to sea for an extended 3 day and 2 night fishing trip, leaving their wives and children home alone. But out at sea the men struggle day after day to get a catch, while their wives have no way of knowing whether they are safe or not.
At the start of their fourth week, and with a last minute haul of fish, the 4 modern families face their last days. But as the outside world comes calling, modern mechanisation hits their rural idyll, prices plummet and there is a rude awakening for the men and women on Llanddwyn. They have to resort to cockling and gathering shellfish to makes ends meet. But as one family leave the island early, the others start to realise that their own demise isn’t far off and that their days on the 1900 island are numbered. It’s a fond if tearful farewell for them all, as they leave the warmth of the close relationships and community they have formed and head back to the modern world.
Series Producer / Director: Alexis Girardet
The 1900 Island in the press..