A waggon and horses pounding along a busy dual carriageway is an awesome sight, and the sound of iron tyres and horses hooves is enough to stop people in their tracks. It is the sound of “ROLLING THUNDER”!

A unique journey shot whilst travelling with horses by road to Appleby fair, the largest horse fair in Europe. ROLLING THUNDER uncovers the history of the fair as well as the different groups who society labels as Gypsies.

Tom Lloyd
In development

About the project

I have travelled with horses with my father since childhood, and for the last 15 years I have been immersed in the world of Gypsies and Travellers. I have shot hours of documentary footage and have been given lots of archive by the travelers themselves.

This material tells the stories of the Gypsies and Travelers from the inside. Through interviews and verite footage shot over many years I am able to show the reality of this world and these people that I have come to love.

This is a film made with real heart about a people I have come to know and love. Itʼs a film about ancient traditions. People holding on to traditions and values and ways of life that are many thousands of years old. It is a film about of the different subcultures within the travelling community. It is film about their relationship with the land, with animals, with each other – and now how this ancient way of living is being squeezed and changed by the modern world it now has to sit within.

I want this theme to merge through character. Iʼve filmed with Billy Welch, Head Gypsy at Appleby and his wife Rachel and her sister Margaret. The women talk about how women are women and men are men how this can never change. Billy explains the rules and role of bare knuckle fist fighting.

Iʼve filmed with young modern gypsy women like Mercedes and Tiffany, who are proud to call themselves Gypsies and who talk about how having a “Gorgio” or house-dwelling boyfriend impacts on their community.

Mark, a Didicoi told me about cleanliness on the road, about language or cants. Violet, a gypsy grandmother who sells boutique bling fashion to the traveller girls on a stall at Appleby with her granddaughters and has felt a sense of change through the generations. “I’ve heard the boys shouting for your telephone numbers” laments Violet. “We didn’t
have telephones!”

The film goes deep into gypsy culture and life but does so with a respect and integrity. The fact that I have filmed over so many years gives a sense of the collision of age old tradition with the changes that the modern world is forcing on the gypsies.

The material I have shot is verite and the archive material is rougher but much of it is on Super 8 and has a terrific quality. I have recorded music buy campfires on the road and on fair hill within the film to bring a life and energy to the film.

This is a film from inside gypsy culture made with love and passion and guided by my fascination with how the ancient sits in todays culture and how and why it changes.


A Dreamtime Film project

Dreamtime Film is an award-winning independent film company based near Windermere in Cumbria. We produce original fiction and documentary films in partnership with arts, educational and corporate organisations throughout the UK.

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