Steeltown Murders: Shooting Locations and True Story Details

Image Credit: Simon Ridgway/BBC

Starring Philip Glenister and Steffan Rhodri as two detectives — DCI Paul Bethell and DC Phil “Bach” Rees — respectively, who investigate the murders committed by Joseph Kappen in South Wales in 1973 with the help of revolutionary 21st-century technological advancements, in ‘Steeltown Murders,’ a British crime drama series. The narrative focuses on the murder case of Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd, who leave a Swansea nightclub but never make it home, falling victim to the murderous hands of Joseph Kappen. Three decades later, the town still deals with the consequences of the unsolved case and poses the question — will justice ever be served? Since the gruesome story unfolds in and around Port Talbot, Wales, it is only natural for viewers to wonder where the show is filmed.

Steeltown Murders Shooting Locations

‘Steeltown Murders’ was filmed in Wales, specifically in Neath Port Talbot, Swansea, Cardiff, Pencoed, Burry Port, and Llandarcy. According to reports, principal photography for the inaugural iteration of the suspenseful series took place in late 2022, getting underway around November of the same year. So, let’s follow the detectives as they investigate the murders and find out all about the specific sites that feature in the crime show!

Neath Port Talbot, Wales

A major chunk of ‘Steeltown Murders’ was lensed in the county borough of Neath Port Talbot, which is situated in the southwest region of Wales. The Royal British Legion Port Talbot at 19-25 Talbot Road in the town of Port Talbot served as one of the filming sites of the series. It seems that the production team also taped a few portions in and around the Naval & Military Club at 1 Ysgol Street in Port Tennant, Swansea.

The filming unit even reportedly utilized the facilities of Bay Studios on Fabian Way near Swansea, in Neath Port Talbot. Home to three main sound stages and a Stage Elba, the Bay Studios also consists of 30,000 square feet of production offices, a prop store, construction workshops, private parking, and more. Neath Valley AKA Vale of Neath served as another production location for the British series.

Other Locations in Wales

For the purpose of shooting, the filming unit of ‘Steeltown Murders’ also traveled to other locations across Wales, including the town of Burry Port and the village of Llandarcy. In the city of Swansea, they took over the Kardomah Restaurant at 11 Portland Street, where they taped several key scenes. Some interior sequences were also recorded in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. Furthermore, the cast and crew set up camp on a sound stage of Dragon Studios on New Road in the town of Pencoed. The film studio is home to five different sound stages, a support space sprawling across 100,000 square feet, and two private woodlands, making it a suitable filming site for different kinds of productions.

In a May 2023 interview with Express, Scott Arthur, who portrays Young DC Paul Bethell, talked about the filming process in detail. He stated, “We filmed quite a lot in Port Talbot down on the Sandfields estate and all across town really. Then we filmed in Neath, Swansea and then we did a little in Cardiff for some of the interiors of Paul and his wife’s house, so it was like a lovely tour of South Wales most days because we were staying either in Swansea or in Cardiff. It was really lovely, in the mornings, we’d be driving to set and you’d pass Port Talbot or you’d pass Neath and you’d kind of see the early beginnings of life.”

Steeltown Murders is Based on a Real Life Murder Case

Yes, ‘Steeltown Murders’ is based on true events associated with the Welsh serial killer Joseph Kappen, notoriously known as the Saturday Night Strangler. The real-life murders committed by the killer sparked some inspiration in the writer Ed Whitmore (known for ‘Silent Witness,’ ‘Manhunt,’ and ‘Walking the Dead’), which he used to pen down the true-to-life and intriguing screenplay for the show.

In 1973, three girls reportedly met their tragic demises at the hands of Kappen in Llandarcy and Tonmawr, near Port Talbot, referred to as Steeltown in the show. Two 16-year-old colleagues and friends — Geraldine Hughes and Pauline Floyd — were physically abused before getting strangled to death by the killer, who offered a ride home to them. A few weeks later, another 16-year-old girl named Sandra Newton was choked to death by him.

Although there was no way of identifying the killer, the authorities didn’t give up. Their perseverance was not in vain as when a new crime-solving tool — DNA evidence — was introduced in 2002, these murder cases were reopened and Joseph Kappen was finally identified as the culprit. However, the police were not able to arrest him because he had already met his demise by then. Thus, although the plot might contain some dramatization of the real events, the essence and main elements of the story remain authentic and deeply rooted in reality.

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