Casgliad hynod ddiddorol o tua 200 o ffotograffau du-a-gwyn ynghyd â nodiadau eglurhaol perthnasol am amryfal agweddau ar fywydau trigolion Glynebwy a'r ardal ym meysydd diwydiant a busnes, llywodraeth leol a thrafnidiaeth, diwylliant a sefydliadau, addysg a chrefydd, chwaraeon a hamdden, 1900-2003.
A fascinating collection of nearly 200 black-and-white photographs with relevant explanatory notes about various aspects of the lives of the inhabitants of Ebbw Vale and surrounding areas in the fields of industry and commerce, local government and transport, culture and organisations, education and religion, sport and leisure, 1900-2003.
Ebbw Vale, once one of the cradles of the Industrial Revolution, was dealt a mortal blow with the closure of its steelworks and has not recovered. I well remember the workers booing Michael Foot, the local Labour MP, for allowing this to happen, and the bitterness has lasted to this day.
Steel-making dominated the towns life for three generations. It is said that a pupil at the grammar school, where I taught in the 'sixties, when asked to name the three men who were cast into the fiery furnace, replied, 'Richard, Thomas and Baldwin'. Few nowadays will understand the reference to the former owners of the steel companies before nationalization and the industry is now only a memory among the older generation.
Idwal Williams had a hard task in compiling this pictorial account of Ebbw Vales history over the last hundred years or so. There is hardly any noteworthy architecture or anything much to be seen in the town except what industry has left. The overall picture is grey, gloomy and altogether unphotogenic, unless one is interested in industrial archaeology.
Even so, he manages to suggest a thriving social life by including photos of schools, chapels, cinemas, drama groups, horse shows, bowls matches, choral societies, carnivals, brass bands, street parties and rugby clubs in short, all the leisure activities of a community that owed its existence to the making of steel.
Usually in this series there are lots of pictures of a towns famous sons and daughters, but here only Aneurin Bevan, MP and creator of the National Health Service, is featured, together with his wife, Jennie Lee, once Minister for the Arts. Michael Foot does not appear.
The most evocative plate for me is a shot of the railway station at Cwm, a couple of miles down the valley from the town, where I used to go on holiday to stay with my grandmothers people in Railway Terrace near the Marine colliery. But all areas of Ebbw Vale are represented: Carmeltown, Beaufort, Rassau, Waunllwyd and Victoria. For anyone whose childhood memories are associated with these ravaged places, this book will provide immense pleasure.
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.