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Currently at number two in my flickr statistics is a photograph that I didn’t take. A few years ago I acquired a wonderful set of 120-size negatives from the camera of Keith Coles who was the woodwork teacher at Blaengarw Secondary School in the 1950s and 60s. Keith, who was a member of Bridgend & District Camera Club, passed away many years ago and it was thought his collection of photographs and negatives had been subsequently lost for future generations, but I was delighted to have tracked them down and found some little gems amongst them, like this photograph from 1957/8.

Boys at Blaengarw Secondary School in the late 1950sThere is so much detail in this photo that is evocative of a past era: secondary age boys in short trousers, short back and sides haircuts, jackets with holes on the elbows, down-at-heel shoes, pullovers with holes, trousers with tears, wellington boots in place of shoes, all indicative of a community that was not well-off financially. There was nothing unusual in any of this, that’s just how it was during that period of hardship in the late 1950s. All of these lads could have looked forward to a period of National Service, followed by a career down the pit. Little did they know that, unlike their fathers and their grandfathers, work down the mines would not be a life time occupation. All these boys would now be in their mid-to-late sixties and following a lot of detective work by Vici Lloyd from Nantymoel a number have been identified.

L-R: Michael Richards with conker; David Davies; Haydn Hooper; unknown; Reggie Hoof; Tony Jones (under arm); unknown (over arm); unknown (over arm); David Rees with conker; unknown; Clive Griffiths; unknown.

Boys playing in an unidentified river in the late 1950sAnother photograph from Keith’s negatives is this one taken at an unidentified location showing two young boys aged about 7 or 8. Like the previous photograph there is so much detail of a past era: boys in short trousers, short back and sides haircuts, well-worn jackets with patches on the elbows, shoes with worn-down heels and clothing with holes and tears. The boys do look as if they have been partially posed by the photographer, the lad on the bridge is certainly aware of the camera; he is probably a bit envious of his young friend paddling in the stream in his wellingtons. The boy was probably wearing his only pair of shoes and he would likely have had a severe scolding had he gone home with wet feet. The other boy paddling in the stream is probably able to do so because his everyday shoes are his wellington boots.

Anyway, apart from enjoying the 1950s sentiment of this image, I am hoping someone will recognise the location. I assume it is in the Bridgend area but I’m not able to identify the bridge or the stream. It could possibly be in the Garw or lower Garw area where the photographer lived and worked.

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