A Photographer on the loose – Taking pictures in the Neath Valley.

At Saturn Films 1969 we recently completed part one of the scanning and restoration of photographs from the Glynneath, Cwmgwrach, Pontneathvaughan and Ystradfellte areas. The photos span over a hundred years and capture significant moments and views of our local area.

My brilliant idea was to visit the same positions and take the same photographs to add to the rich collection. I will be using the photos to complile a photobook illustrating the changes in this South Wales region. Challenge accepted!

The first picture I tried to emulate was of the old wool shop in Glynneath. The old wool shop today is a pet grooming parlour opposite the Glynneath Co-op, and it is just around the corner from the current wool shop Neath Valley Wools. I walked into position and immediately realised I could not get the picture I wanted because there was a large van and several cars parked in the way. There was also a biting cold wind blowing so I briskly walked to position two for a photo of the old ‘Oddfellowes’ pub, today a delicatessan and a beauty parlour. There was a lot of traffic and I was unable to stand in the desired position to reproduce the previous pictures exactly but the one below is close (once the Glynneath Historical Society give permission the old photographs will be made publicly available).

It used to be the Oddfellowes Pub in days gone by.

The next picture was to be of the Angel Hotel in Pontneathvaughan. As it was a Sunday midday I was expecting it to be busy but as I approached it became clear that it was worse than I imagined, there was no way I could get to the position I wanted. So I turned back to Glynneath.

There were other points for photos to be taken but in each case there were vehicles blocking the object. It was very frustrating. I decided to take my last pictures in Blaengwrach and Cwmgwrach. My daughter, who I have not mentioned until now, was with me. She refused to get out of the car to help with piccys on the grounds that it was too cold. I climbed out of the car at the top of Parish Road in Blaegwrach where the road is currently blocked off. This I am told is soon to be reopened all the way to Rhigos so I thought a picture or two would not go amiss. I walked around the open gate and into the previously restricted area – and there it was! The find that made me smile and reminded me that there is history all around us..

Behind the gate, which is looking in a very sorry state, there are two roadways you can follow, one goes Northeast, this was the old route to Rhigos, the other Eastwards into the forested area. There is a bank of youngish trees by this junction and there amongst the undergrowth is a rusted sign. It may not seem much but its very presence tells of a time when this was a public roadway before it was transformed into a quarry area.

So here is my picture for the day – this old post may be a century old !!

A rusted signpost in the woods. Where is it pointing to ??

So a bit of a failure in achieving the objectives ….. but it was fun and at the end of the day thats what photography is all about.

Now I feel clearer about my personal objectives. It’s about taking photos to add to our regions history and getting out and seeing what is in our backyard.

And I am learning to love my Nikon D7100 all over again 🙂

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