Joshua LeHuray, an adjunct history professor at Rappahannock Community College, appears in the new documentary How The Welsh Changed the World: The Tale of Two Tredegars, which will air on WCVE on Thursday, April 26 at 10 p.m.
“The Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond was founded in 1837 and ran for about 120 years,” says LeHuray. “They made all kinds of iron products for different things, but the thing they are most famous for is making cannons for the Confederacy during the Civil War. About half the cannons made for the South were made at Tredegar.”
LeHuray became involved in the film project when a coworker was contacted by filmmakers from Wales with questions about the former ironworks and current museum.
Since LeHuray works at the museum, and is a history professor, choosing him as a “talking head” expert for the film was an easy choice for the filmmakers.
“I was one of the people who was interviewed in the United States to give information about the history of Tredegar and the history of immigration and things along those lines,” says LeHuray.
“I thought I would be in it one or two times, but I was in it over ten times,” he laughs.
The producers of the film were interested in the relationship between the Tredegar Iron Works in Wales and the one in the United States, which were constructed by some of the same people. A Welsh engineer was hired in the mid-1800s to take part in the building of the iron works, and as a tribute to his home, it was named after the original.
LeHuray enjoyed his role in the project and raved about the special effects that they used to make the old buildings come to life again. He did note that the while he and the filmmakers shared a common language, the strong accents of the crew sometimes made questions difficult.
“Once you listen to them a while, it was OK,” says LeHuray. “But every once in a while I had to stop them to say ‘I don’t know what that word was that you just said.’”
Even the name of the town in Wales and the museum in Richmond fell victim to the heavy Welsh accents.
“In Wales, it is pronounced “tra-DEE-ger,” but it became Americanized as “tre-duh-ger” which is how we pronounce it today,” says LeHuray.
Now LeHuray can add documentary “talking head” to his resume, which includes authoring a book on music before the Revolutionary War, and as a teacher for RCC.
“I’ve been here for six years now, and it’s a real honor to work for the school,” says LeHuray. “The students are engaged. It’s fun to speak with them and to get their feedback on different things.”
“Even though many of the students are taking history classes because it’s a requirement, it’s nice to see that by the end of the classes, most of the students engage with the material that I’m giving to them.”