Portmeirion - "The Village"

June 1984/August 2000

One of my favorite television series is Patrick McGoohan's "The Prisoner". The series first aired in the US in 1967 and immediately achieved cult status. For those unfamiliar with the premise, a British intelligence officer resigns for unknown reasons, only to find himself spirited away to a mysterious prisoner known only as "The Village". Once there he is known only as No. 6, and the series pits him against his unknown captors. The fanciful location used in many of the episodes is Portmeirion, a resort in north Wales.

About these photos: I first visited Portmeirion in 1984. I was working in London and drove up there one weekend with my wife, Carol. She's not a fan of the series but happily indulged my rushing around the grounds photographing everything in sight. We were able to stay on the grounds, which was a wonderful opportunity to see the place late at night or early in the morning when the day guests aren't all over the place. Unfortunately it was gray and gloomy most of the time that we were there, which made it tough to get some of the shots I wanted. Happily, though, when we returned in 2000, it was a gorgeous sunny day, perfect for photography. My only regret is that we couldn't get a room in the "Village", but other than that, it was a fun trip down memory lane.

Number Six's cottage

Fans of "The Prisoner" will immediately recognize this as the doorway to No. 6's cottage. It's a great location for a Prisoner-themed gift shop. I did my best to clean them out each trip. (1984)


Mini-Moke

This is a Mini-Moke, which is basically an English version of a Jeep. It was used as a taxi in the first episode of the series. (1984)


Piazza

This is the view that No. 6 saw the first time he looked out his window following his abduction. In reality it's the Piazza, the center of Portmeirion. (1984)


View from trail

This view of Portmeirion was taken from one of the many trails throughout the property. Near the center is a structure known as the Pantheon, which was called "The Green Dome" in the series and used as the office of No. 2, the temporary head of the Village. The clouds in the distance give a hint of how miserable the weather was, but I was so glad to finally be there that I hardly noticed at all. (1984)


Piazza-2000

As mentioned, our return to the Village in 2000 was on a beautiful day. There were hundreds of tourists enjoying the sunshine, but somehow I managed to get this shot of the Piazza without anyone in it. (2000)


Campanile

This view was taken from the beach looking up at the main section of Portmeirion. The tower is known as the Campanile, and was used as the bell tower in "The Prisoner". (2000)


Amis Reunis

This "boat" is actually completely land-bound. Named the "Amis Reunis" in real-life and the "Stone Boat" in reel-life, it's a popular playground for young visitors who can pretend they're sailing along. In the background in the main hotel at Portmeirion, which was the "Old People's Home" in the series. (2000)


Tidal flats

One of the most striking features at Portmeirion is the beach. At low tide it stretches way off into the distance; at high tide it simply vanishes and the water is all the way up to the sea wall. That makes the Amis Reunis really look like it's afloat.

This view at low tide looks just like the scenes of No. 6 trying to flee across the sand. The only difference is the lack of Rover and the guards in pursuit. (2000)