Trydydd casgliad o dros 200 o ffotograffau du-a-gwyn hynod ddiddorol gyda phenawdau llawn gwybodaeth yn adlewyrchu amryfal agweddau ar fywyd trigolion deg o bentrefi'r Rhondda Fach, ym meysydd busnes a masnach, bywyd teuluol a chyhoeddus, y lofa a'i thrychinebau, diwylliant ac addysg, crefydd a chwaraeon.
A third collection of over 200 fascinating black-and-white photographs with relevant informative captions reflecting various aspects of the lives of the inhabitants of ten Rhondda Fach villages, in the fields of business and commerce, family and civic life, mining and its disasters, culture and education, religion and leisure.
This, the third in the excellent Images of Wales series, is a photographic study of the lesser Rhondda, from Porth to Ynyshir and Maerdy. It was first published in 1996.
Inevitably, collieries and colliers predominate, because the Rhondda, Fach and Fawr, was one of the great power-houses of the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire and everything was built on coal.
All the more poignant then is the shot on page 123 of the leaders of the procession that walked to and from the Mardy, the last pit in Rhondda, in December 1990. There were a lot of clenched fists at that ceremony (I was there) but not much resolve to replace the pits with some other form of employment for the stricken valley. The valleys decline has continued apace since then, and now it is a byword for an ageing population, poor health, crime and drugs. Those who fought for Socialism, as the banners declared, must be spinning in their graves.
The cultural aspect of life in Rhondda Fach is caught in photo after photo. Here is the Pendyrus Choir, one of the best ever produced in Wales; here the fun and excitement of a fancy dress parade; here a group of pigeon fanciers; here a boxing club; here the Ynyshir Brass Band; here a dance with dignitaries from the Welsh Guards in evening dress (an unusual sight in proletarian Rhondda); and here a group of unemployed miners repairing boots during the grim 1920s. The poverty and deprivation of Rhondda society is never far from the surface, even in the happier shots in this book.
For historians of the Rhondda, as well as for those who simply want to see whether they can spot a relation or friend, this book will provide hours of enjoyment. The photos are of exceptional quality and arranged thematically. What we are not shown is the breathtaking scenery on either side of the Rhondda Fach, the treeless hills and high moorland. Only the very early photos of collieries and townships suggest how they were built in what was essentially a rural area sylvan Rhondda in which sheep and ponies were the natural occupants rather than people.
But it is the people who make the Rhondda and here they are in all their vivacity, courage and humour. This book is a silent witness to the society they created and the communal values which, even at this late stage of their history, might be turned to their advantage. God knows, they deserve it.
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.