A key and recurring location in Illumination is the small town of Menai Bridge, called Porthaethwy in Welsh. It’s been there for a long time, to receive visitors to Anglesey at the shortest crossing point of the Menai Straits. Its modern English name, of course, comes from Thomas Telford’s famous suspension bridge of 1826, which is anchored at one side of the town. It’s not a big place, and perhaps not the most obvious location for a chase scene. I mentioned this particular piece of drama to a friend of mine who lives in the town, saying that a car chase takes place through the streets of Menai Bridge, and he said “don’t you mean the street of Menai Bridge?”
From the town it is possible to walk down to the banks of the Straits, to what was probably the original fording point, despite the hazardous currents. Here you can walk under the Menai Bridge, along a promenade that was built by Belgian refugees during World War I. They came to Anglesey when they escaped the German invasion of their country, and built the walkway as an expression of thanks. It’s here that the chase begins in Illumination, along the Belgian Promenade, under Telford’s bridge and up into the town.
At one end of the promenade is the causeway leading to Church Island, called Ynys Dysilio in Welsh, Ynys for Island, and Dysilio a mutated form of St. Tysilio, to whom the 15th century church on the island is dedicated. St. Tysilio was a 7th century monk who had a hermitage there, and whose name is best remembered now as a component of the longest place name in Britain. The highest point of the island is the site of a memorial to the local dead of the First World War.