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Iconic photographs of twentieth century Wales published in new book

Photographs from the Gresford mining disaster, the drowning of Capel Celyn, Lloyd George’s funeral and many other iconic moments in twentieth century Wales are published for the first time in an English book by Y Lolfa.


Geoff Charles: Wales and the Borders – Photographs of a lost way of life 1930s–1970s is a book of stunning black and white photographs that documents ordinary life and extraordinary events. It is the first book in English that chronicles the life and work of celebrated photographer and photojournalist Geoff Charles (1909 – 2002) who captured a unique record of the twentieth century throughout his career.


The book includes 120 photographs of Wales and the border areas of England taken from the 1930s to the 1970s and a biography written by a journalist colleague Ioan Roberts who knew the photographer well.


“I first met Geoff Charles beneath the statue of Lloyd George in Caernarfon on St David’s Day 1969. We were covering a rally protesting against the forthcoming Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales for Y Cymro. Over the next six years we shared numerous car journeys throughout the northern counties of Wales in pursuit of stories,” says Ioan Roberts.


“Consciously or otherwise we were recording history. Taking good photographs required a lot more technical and visual skills in those days and he possessed the equally vital knack for getting on with people and making his subjects feel at ease.”


Amongst the powerful and evocative images in the book are the Gresford mining disaster of 1934, the effect of the Second World War on rural Montgomeryshire and the controversial flooding of the Tryweryn valley to provide water for Liverpool.


The pictures are part of Geoff Charles Collection at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. On his death in 2002, Geoff Charles left a unique collection of 120,000 photographs to the National Library of Wales. This outstanding collection of photographs preserves a way of life that has now disappeared.