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