Robert Haines: Once Upon A Time In Wales

I have just discovered Robert Haines’ photographs from the Welsh village of Heolgerrig and the nearby town of Merthyr Tydfil, taken around 1971/2 by the then 19-year-old Haines.

The area was home to a close-knit mining community with much of life revolving around work, pub and chapel and was full of colourful characters. Haines caught the community at a time of change, when redevelopment was underway and the old ways were being lost.

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Mad Malcolm

“No chemical substance was too hot for Malcolm. He had just taken some speed with his cider before I photographed him. He died after hitting a wall at high speed on a motorbike while fleeing the police. A lovely friendly type.”

 

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Tex Jones

“Tex was the father of my school friend Wayne. He lived on the Gurnos Estate and was crazy about the Wild West. He was a very skilled leather worker and made belts, wallets and all sorts of things. He made a stool out of a Western Saddle and perched on it he would eat baked beans from a tin while watching Westerns on the television. I photographed him at Morlais Castle quarry not far from his home.

 

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“Two women gossiping in Bethesda street near Jackson’s bridge, Georgetown.”

 

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Billy Diana

Billy loved to woo the women with his sexy rendition of Paul Anka’s Diana – his signature tune. After a few pints you couldn’t stop him. He would gyrate his hips wildly in an Elvis Presley style.”

 

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Arwel and Mel

“Arwel Reed and Mel Jones emerge after a good afternoon session in The Six Bells. Arwel was a young police officer. He used to go fishing with Mel who was a very keen fisherman.”

A book, entitled Once Upon A Time In Wales, is available from Dewi Lewis Publishing. Please visit Robert Haines for more details.

 

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