“I believe that old photographs develop a special character. It’s a unique sheen imbued by the passage of time. Looking through these photographs today, four decades later, I find myself transported to a very different era, almost a different country.”
– Robin Weaver
Pill, Newport, South Wales, 1974
In the 1970s Robin Weaver was a newspaper photographer in South Wales. When he wasn’t covering hard news or local events for his paper, he liked to photograph the people and everyday scenes he came across. For years his photographs remained in his private collection but then, 40 years on, he revisited his old negative files, placing the images in photo libraries and publishing a book which he says is “a portrait of a unique place and time”.
These photographs are miles above hackneyed whispers of the past, those routine black and white images that tell of only a photographer’s flimsy grasp on the power of pictures and the yuppie’s idea of what might be arty things to cover bare white walls in a new city flat. Robin gets into the heart of the crowd and shows us things as they were. This intimacy between photographer and subject – just look at how at ease people are as they stand for their portraits – is reminiscent of Tish Mustha’s Elswick Kids. They really are terrific.
Recently a selection was published by Cafe Royal Books in one of their excellent limited edition photozines.
Silver Jubilee fancy dress parade, Monmouth, Monmnouthshire, Wales, June 1977.
Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, 1977
Portland Street, Pill, Newport, South Wales, 1974
Children playing on their way home from school, Rhymney, Wales, 1975
Girl minding a baby, Splott, Cardiff, Wales, 1974
Mr Parfitt, aged 84, last resident with his wife of old ironworkers’ cottages, Blaenavon, South Wales, 1972. This row of terraced cottage has now been restored as part of the Blaenavon Ironworks museum within the UNESCO World Heritage Site which comprises the ironworks and Big Pit National Mining Museum.
Woodland Terrace, Aberbeeg, Abertillery, Gwent, Wales, 1976
Neighbours in Blaen-y-Cwm, Treherbert, Rhondda Fawr, South Wales
Shocked steelworkers are told that their plant is to be closed, Ebbw Vale Welfare Ground, South Wales, 1975
Treharris, South Wales, 1977
Women chatting in a street of boarded up houses awaiting demolition, Butetown (Tiger Bay), Cardiff, Wales, 1974 – all this working class area near the docks was totally demolished to make way for redevelopment of the up-market Cardiff Bay area.
Children playing where old terraced houses have been demolished to make way for redevelopment, Pill, Newport, South Wales, 1974
A corner shop in Splott, Cardiff, Wales, 1974
Flower show, Llanfrechfa, Wales, 1976
Army bandsmen feeling the November cold, Remembrance Sunday parade, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, Wales, 1977.
Band members relax at The Miners’ Gala, Cardiff, 1978
Anti-racism demonstration, Cardiff, Wales, 1978.
Carnival Queen Competition, Newbridge, South Wales, 1974
Bank holiday tug of war competition, Pill, Newport, 1978
You can buy Robin’s book at his website. See his and other great books at Cafe Royal Books.