Once Upon a Time in Wales
For decades this extraordinary collection of photographs has remained hidden from the world. Taken around 1971, by young photographer Robert Haines, they record life in the Welsh valleys, in the village of Heolgerrig and nearby Merthyr Tydfil. It was a very close-knit community with Welsh the first language: a mining community where most of the men worked underground and life seemed to revolve around the pub and the chapel. Merthyr Tydfil, once the 'Iron Capital' of the world, had a justifiable reputation as 'tough' with characters such as hard man, Melvin Webber, who died after being blasted by a shotgun, and 'Mad' Malcolm for whom it was said no chemical substance was too strong.
The photographs tell us of a very different and distant world. The early 1970s were a time of great change and, looking at these powerful photographs now, it seems as if many of these extraordinary characters have drifted in from a previous age.
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Arwel Auntie Rhoda barrister beautiful landscaped Bethesda Street Bill Baldy Billy bought Penyrheol House Brigadier brother Martin Bryn Castle Hotel Castle Street Cefn Cemetery character charming ladies Chinese takeaway Christmas Evans cider close-knit community coal tip Delilah died Dowlais drink Eddie Abrahams Evan Evans father Georgetown grandfather Griffiths the undertaker hard head teacher Heolgerrig Social Club Heolgerrig who invited home to take horse and cart Ironworks Jim Ryan Job Haines Jones and Old ladies from Heolgerrig Lamb Lewis Evans lived Llewellyn lounge loved Maggie Merthyr Tydfil never fucking Ngai old colliers Old Mister Jones Old Mrs Jones Olde Express pub once pauper's photo was taken photograph was taken pints poet Red Lion redevelopment Rhondda ROBERT HAINES Six Bells pub song South Wales power take their portrait Tommy Gravedigger town centre Tudor underground village of Heolgerrig Wales power stations wealthy mine owner Welsh collier wife Martha workmate Ye Olde Express