Casgliad o bron i 200 o hen ffotograffau du-a-gwyn a nodiadau perthnasol yn portreadu amryfal agweddau ar fywyd, gwaith a hamdden yng nghymunedau glofaol Blaenrhondda a Treherbert, Cwmparc a Treorci, Tonypandy, Clydach Vale a Llwynypia, 1895-1991.
A collection of nearly 200 old black-and-white photographs with relevant captions portraying various aspects of life, work and leisure in the mid-Rhondda communities of Blaenrhondda and Treherbert, Cwmparc and Treorchy, Tonypandy, Clydach Vale and Llwynypia, 1895-1991.
It is possible, when looking at the Rhondda through rose-tinted spectacles, not to see how dirty and ugly it was in the heyday of coal. Work underground was not only dangerous, it was filthy, and the built environment was monotonous and undistinguished. The housing stock, in particular, was atrociously bad.
To see what I mean, you have only to look at page 119 of this book and see the coal dumped on the pavement of Long Row, Blaenllechau. It is no wonder that so many of Rhonddas people, especially the educated and the ambitious who had passed through the excellent Grammar Schools, got out as soon as they could, never to return.
But it was not all grime and grinding poverty. The people of Rhondda, Fawr and Fach, always knew how to entertain themselves. There were chapel walks through the streets, eisteddfodau, brass bands, football matches, concerts, billiard halls, theatres, cinemas, and a host of homemade pleasures such as quoits, jazz bands and street parties.
Rhondda sent its coal to the four corners of the world and, from time to time, the world came to Rhondda. King George turned up in 1912. Lloyd George visited the National Eisteddfod at Treorci in 1928. In 1941 German bombs fell on Cwmparc, killing twenty-eight people. Harold Wilson was mobbed by the people of the Penrhys estate in 1971. The bandleader Joe Loss brought his music to Treorci in 1976.
It was the people of Rhondda who made the vibrant society of the two Valleys, and here they stare out at us from every page of this fascinating book with pride, amusement and sometimes anguish on their faces, as if to say, This is where we live and this is how it was for us.
On page 56 there is a shot of the old Pentre Library, with a rather grand car parked outside and three scruffy sheep making ambling past it as if they have right of way. This is still such an everyday sight in the Rhondda that the caption makes no mention of the sheep, but apart from that the captions are full and informative.
This is a reprint of a book first published in 1994 and its appearance attests to the popularity of its subject, at least in the hearts of Rhondda people.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.