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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