A Child’s Life in Wales 1939-1962

What was it like being a child in Wales during the mid 20th Century? Let's see...

wales evacuees world war 2

 

The photos in this gallery aren’t particularly crisp and big. They won’t blow up well to hang on the wall in your kitchen diner.  But as photojournalism showing us how we used to live their high value is apparent. This was an era of war, when sugar was good for you (just look at the size of that spoonful in the picture below), boxing was taught in schools, careers in the mines were expected – although 50 collieries closed in south Wales between 1957 and 1964 – and thousands of children evacuated from British cities arrives in the Welsh countryside. Each evacuee escaping the German bombs came with three items: a suitcase, their name and address on a tag worn around their necks and a gas mask.

As ever, if you or anyone you know  is in these photographs, please get in touch.

 

A New Year party for the children of Brithdir near Dolgellau
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Parti dydd Calan i blant y Brithdir ger Dolgellau
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: January 7, 1955.

 

The Urdd camp, Llangranog Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title:Gwersyll yr Urdd, Llangrannog Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: August 22, 1947

The Urdd camp, Llangranog
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title:Gwersyll yr Urdd, Llangrannog
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: August 22, 1947

Barber's chair at Menai Bridge in the shape of a small car Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Cadair Barbwr ym Mhorthaethwy mewn siap car bychan. Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: 01/09/1958

Barber’s chair at Menai Bridge in the shape of a small car
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Cadair Barbwr ym Mhorthaethwy mewn siap car bychan.
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: 01/09/1958

Children outside air raid shelter, Gresford Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant tu allan i gysgodfa rhag cyrchoedd awyr, Gresfordd Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: November 10, 1939.

Children outside air raid shelter, Gresford
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant tu allan i gysgodfa rhag cyrchoedd awyr, Gresfordd
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002)
Dyddiad/Date: November 10, 1939.

 

Many of these images were taken by Geoff Charles (1909 – 20012).

From the 1930s onwards he worked extensively in north and mid Wales for newspapers such as The Wrexham Star, The Montgomeryshire Express and Y Cymro. On his retirement in 1975 he gave his collection of about 120,000 negatives to The National Library of Wales.

 

A boxing school established in Llanarmon by W G Buchanan, an ex-air force boxing champion, and the Rev T D Williams Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Ysgol focsio a sefydlwyd yn Llanarmon gan W G Buchanan, pencampwr bocsio o'r Llu Awyr, a'r Parch T D Williams Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: 13/11/1958

A boxing school established in Llanarmon by W G Buchanan, an ex-air force boxing champion, and the Rev T D Williams. Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: 13/11/1958

Colliery boys holiday camp, St Athan's Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Gwersyll wyliau i fechgyn ardaloedd glofaol, Sain Tathan Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: 3/8/1951

Colliery boys holiday camp, St Athan’s
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Gwersyll wyliau i fechgyn ardaloedd glofaol, Sain Tathan
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: 3/8/1951

Proclamation of the Urdd National Eisteddfod 1964 at Porthmadog, June 1963 Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Cyhoeddi Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yr Urdd 1964 ym Mhorthmadog, Mehefin 1963 Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: 20/6/1963

Proclamation of the Urdd National Eisteddfod 1964 at Porthmadog, June 1963
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Cyhoeddi Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yr Urdd 1964 ym Mhorthmadog, Mehefin 1963
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: 20/6/1963

Singing class at Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Dosbarth canu yn Ysbyty Orthopedig Gobowen Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: 1/6/1954

Singing class at Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Dosbarth canu yn Ysbyty Orthopedig Gobowen
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: 1/6/1954

Girl patient at Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital with pet lamb Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Merch sy'n derbyn triniaeth yn Ysbyty Orthopedic Gobowen gyda oen anwes Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: 1/4/1954

Girl patient at Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital with pet lamb
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Merch sy’n derbyn triniaeth yn Ysbyty Orthopedic Gobowen gyda oen anwes
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: 1/4/1954

Christmas party for evacuees and children in Llanidloes Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Parti Nadolig ar gyfer faciwîs a phlant lleol yn Llanidloes Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: 23/12/1939

Christmas party for evacuees and children in Llanidloes
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Parti Nadolig ar gyfer faciwîs a phlant lleol yn Llanidloes
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: 23/12/1939

 

wales evacuees world war 2

Evacuees arrive

Harlech bonfire ready for 5th of November.. Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Coelcerth Harlech yn barod ar gyfer y 5ed o Dachwedd Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: 01/11/1958.

Harlech bonfire ready for 5th of November.
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Coelcerth Harlech yn barod ar gyfer y 5ed o Dachwedd
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: 01/11/1958.

Cwmbach Street Party Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Parti stryd Cwmbach Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: September 14, 1951.

Cwmbach Street Party
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Parti stryd Cwmbach
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: September 14, 1951.

Standard Eight road test Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title:Prawf ffordd i'r Standard Eight Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: September 23, 1953

Standard Eight road test
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title:Prawf ffordd i’r Standard Eight
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: September 23, 1953

Sea-side views from around the North Wales coast for a pictorial supplement Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Golygfeydd glan môr o amgylch arfordir Gogledd Gymru ar gyfer atodiad darluniadol Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: August 1, 1959

Sea-side views from around the North Wales coast for a pictorial supplement
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Golygfeydd glan môr o amgylch arfordir Gogledd Gymru ar gyfer atodiad darluniadol
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: August 1, 1959

Irish gypsies in Anglesey Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Sipswn Gwyddelig yn Sir Fôn Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: November 1, 1963.

Irish gypsies in Anglesey
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Sipswn Gwyddelig yn Sir Fôn
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: November 1, 1963.

wales evacuees world war 2

Evacuees

 

Llandudno Sea Fishing Society competition Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Cystadleuaeth bysgota Cymdeithas Bysgota Môr Llandudno Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: September 20, 1962.

Llandudno Sea Fishing Society competition
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Cystadleuaeth bysgota Cymdeithas Bysgota Môr Llandudno
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: September 20, 1962.

Wem schoolchildren learning domestic skills and gardening Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant ysgol Wem yn dysgu sut i arddio a gwneud gwaith tŷ Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: December 1, 1947.

Wem schoolchildren learning domestic skills and gardening
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant ysgol Wem yn dysgu sut i arddio a gwneud gwaith tŷ
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: December 1, 1947.

Harlescott [Junior] School Sports Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Mabolgampau Ysgol [Gynradd] Harlescott Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: July 1, 1952

Harlescott [Junior] School Sports
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Mabolgampau Ysgol [Gynradd] Harlescott
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: July 1, 1952

Llangefni children enjoying the sun with their pet rabbit Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant Llangefni yn mwynhau yr haul gyda'u gwningen anwes Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: July 1, 1964

Llangefni children enjoying the sun with their pet rabbit
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant Llangefni yn mwynhau yr haul gyda’u gwningen anwes
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: July 1, 1964

The McGrath Family emigrating to Canada from Wrexham, 1948 Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Teulu McGrath oedd yn ymfudo i Ganada o Wrecsam, 1948 Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: September 6, 1948

The McGrath Family emigrating to Canada from Wrexham, 1948
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Teulu McGrath oedd yn ymfudo i Ganada o Wrecsam, 1948
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: September 6, 1948

British Legion carnival in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Carnifal y Lleng Brydeinig yn Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: May 24, 1956

British Legion carnival in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Carnifal y Lleng Brydeinig yn Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: May 24, 1956

Geoff Charles' children wearing their St David's Day leeks Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant Geoff Charles yn gwisgo'u cennin Dydd Gŵyl Dewi. Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: March 1, 1957.

Geoff Charles’ children wearing their St David’s Day leeks
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant Geoff Charles yn gwisgo’u cennin Dydd Gŵyl Dewi.
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: March 1, 1957.

Whitchurch [War Memorial] Hall Chrysanthemum Show Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Sioe Eurflodau Neuadd Goffa Whitchurch Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: November 4, 1949.

Whitchurch [War Memorial] Hall Chrysanthemum Show
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Sioe Eurflodau Neuadd Goffa Whitchurch
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: November 4, 1949.

Girls carrying water, Anglesey Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Merched yn cario dwr yn Sir Fon Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: December 1, 1962.

Girls carrying water, Anglesey
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Merched yn cario dwr yn Sir Fon
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: December 1, 1962.

Children building an igloo in the snow Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant yn codi iglw yn yr eira Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: January 1, 1955

Children building an igloo in the snow
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant yn codi iglw yn yr eira
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: January 1, 1955

Children of Moss Valley, near Wrexham Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant o Ddyffryn Moss, ger Wrecsam Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: August 25, 1953

Children of Moss Valley, near Wrexham
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Plant o Ddyffryn Moss, ger Wrecsam
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: August 25, 1953

 

wales evacuees world war 2

Derek Hopley, winner of the Midland Area final of the National Association of Boys Clubs flyweight championship Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Derek Hopley, enillwr rownd derfynnol y canolbarth yng nghystadleuaeth pwysau pryf y Gymdeithas Cenedlaethol o Glybiau Bechgyn. Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: March 12, 1952

Derek Hopley, winner of the Midland Area final of the National Association of Boys Clubs flyweight championship
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Derek Hopley, enillwr rownd derfynnol y canolbarth yng nghystadleuaeth pwysau pryf y Gymdeithas Cenedlaethol o Glybiau Bechgyn.
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Dyddiad/Date: March 12, 1952

Dolgellau Fair Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Ffair Dolgellau Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Nodyn/Note: Robert Keith Jones with a toy gun Dyddiad/Date: April 26, 1956

Dolgellau Fair
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Ffair Dolgellau
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Nodyn/Note: Robert Keith Jones with a toy gun
Dyddiad/Date: April 26, 1956

A tame fox cub at home with Mr and Mrs Gordon Jones, Talysarn Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Cadnawes ddof yng nghartre Mr a Mrs Gordon Jones, Talysarn. Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Nodyn/Note: Mr and Mrs Jones' son, Heddwyn, sitting on the kitchen table holding the cub. Dyddiad/Date: July 16, 1959

A tame fox cub at home with Mr and Mrs Gordon Jones, Talysarn
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Cadnawes ddof yng nghartre Mr a Mrs Gordon Jones, Talysarn.
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Nodyn/Note: Mr and Mrs Jones’ son, Heddwyn, sitting on the kitchen table holding the cub.
Dyddiad/Date: July 16, 1959

Llanelwedd School activities Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Gweithgareddau yn Ysgol Llanelwedd Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Nodyn/Note: Group portrait of Llanelwedd School gymnasts. Dyddiad/Date: November 1, 1953.

Llanelwedd School activities
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Gweithgareddau yn Ysgol Llanelwedd
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles
Nodyn/Note: Group portrait of Llanelwedd School gymnasts.
Dyddiad/Date: November 1, 1953.

Longden Bay Go-cart Racers Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Raswyr Gwibgerti Longden Bay Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: September 8, 1953

Longden Bay Go-cart Racers
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Raswyr Gwibgerti Longden Bay
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: September 8, 1953

Craftwork at Newtown Church School Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Crefftwaith yn Ysgol yr Eglwys, y Drenewydd Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: November 18, 1939

Craftwork at Newtown Church School
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Crefftwaith yn Ysgol yr Eglwys, y Drenewydd
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002)
Dyddiad/Date: November 18, 1939

Ian Williams of Trewern, Welshpool who dug up a "V-shaped" for victory potato Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Ian Williams, Ysgol Trewern, Trallwng a ddarganfu daten siap 'V' (am fuddugoliaeth). Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: November 1, 1941.

Ian Williams of Trewern, Welshpool who dug up a “V-shaped” for victory potato
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Ian Williams, Ysgol Trewern, Trallwng a ddarganfu daten siap ‘V’ (am fuddugoliaeth).
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: November 1, 1941.

Boys of the Newtown Scout troop collecting waste paper Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Bechgyn mintai sgowtiaid y Drenewydd yn casglu papur gwastraff. Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002) Dyddiad/Date: November 4, 1939

Boys of the Newtown Scout troop collecting waste paper
Teitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Bechgyn mintai sgowtiaid y Drenewydd yn casglu papur gwastraff.
Ffotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles 
Dyddiad/Date: November 4, 1939

wales evacuees world war 2

Evacuees in MontgomeryshireTeitl Cymraeg/Welsh title: Faciwis yn Sir DrefaldwynFfotograffydd/Photographer: Geoff Charles (1909-2002)Dyddiad/Date: September 9, 1939.

Via: National Library of Wales