Landscapes and Post-Industrial South Wales

Stuart enjoys taking great photos and uncovering the stories behind them.

His main photography project is Merthyr Road - a look at the history and the legacy of the industrialisation of the South Wales Valleys.

Towards Pontypridd

The Spice Island Inn, Portsmouth Harbour

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My desktop wallpaper today is this shot of the Spice Island Inn in Portsmouth Harbour from 2006. I’ve never been in this pub, but today I find myself feeling like a pint at lunch time for a change. How about you?

I’m trying to remember which lens I used to take this shot, because I’m surprised at how well it looks at full size. I think it must have been the 28-70mm kit lens that came with my first Nikon film camera, the Nikon F55; I didn’t own the 18-135mm lens at the time. I might have to dig it out from whatever box it’s sitting in and use it some more with the Nikon D200 at the weekend.

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Where Brown Lenox Used To Be

This is the site where the Newbridge Chain Works, operated by Brown, Lenox, and Co Ltd used to be.

The Chain Works were built in 1816, and Brown Lennox operated a factory here until 2000. Since then, the site fell into disrepair, until in 2007 the local council took steps which eventually led to the site being cleared in 2009.

The Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries Digital Archive contains over fifty photos of the chainworks, several of which have been published in local history books over the years.

Today, the town is waiting to hear what will happen next on this piece of prime land … one of the oldest pieces of developed land in the town. Originally it was going to be a Morrisons supermarket, but that was rejected by the Welsh Assembly Government. Now? It might become a Sainsbury’s supermarket instead.

Or maybe in 10 years time we’ll still be left wondering what will happen.

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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16361

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My desktop wallpaper today is one of my favourite shots. Although I like my feet firmly planted on dry land, I love walking beside rivers just as much as my wife enjoys walking under trees. Rivers are normally deep and calming, or like this … fast-flowing and bursting with energy and excitement.

Taken on the River Taff in Hawthorn.

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I want to share with you Norman Priesset of photographs of Pontypridd from New Years Day, 2005, which I recently found on Flickr.

I’ve written before about the decline of Pontypridd, and am planning on doing so again later this year. For as long as I’ve lived here in Ponty, the talk of the town has always been about how local council neglect has seen Ponty become more and more run down over the years. And sets of photos like Norman’s are an important example of how this has been the case for years, under successive administrations. Compare his to mine from 2007, and you’ll see little difference, sadly, in the state of this town.

I’d urge you all to go out and vote in the local elections next month, but in all honesty I’ve been unable to work out from the ‘net whether or not there will be any local elections in Pontypridd.

Anyways, go and check out Norman’s photos, and see the situation for yourself.

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Birds

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My desktop wallpaper today is this shot of some birds on a rock by the sea by the Butt of Lewis in Scotland.

Every time we choose to holiday in Scotland, we have a great time. We’ve thoroughly fallen for the country, and hope one day to be able to afford to move up there permanently. (That’ll have to wait some years, until Kristi’s elderly parents don’t need us any more, and until my Tai Chi school down here doesn’t need me either). Scotland in general, and the islands in particular, are a photography paradise. One day, I’d love to write and publish a book just of Scottish island photography. That really would be a labour of love.

I’ll be back on Monday with more desktop wallpaper for you to stare at behind those dull Word documents and Excel spreadsheets :)

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Desktop Wallpaper: Bath

Posted by Stuart Herbert on April 8th, 2010 in Desktop Wallpaper.

2008 Review: Bath

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Today’s desktop wallpaper is one of the few shots I’ve published so far of the city of Bath. I currently have this mad lifestyle where I commute from South Wales, past Bristol, and out to Bath and back, five days a week. It takes me five hours a day … and six and a half hours twice a week when I’m teaching Tai Chi on an evening. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t that I work for a very exceptional business leader in Peter.

I’ve picked this photo as my wallpaper today partly because I’m not expecting to actually make it out of the office at lunch time today, and partly to remind me that I really should publish some more photos of Bath … and get out there and take some more too, now that the nicer weather is approaching at last.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Pontypridd From The Common

The valleys town of Pontypridd sits at the head of the Taff Vale. Here, the valley splits into two, following the River Rhondda to the north-west and the River Taff to the north-east, where it is joined by the River Cynon at Abercynon (formerly Navigation, headquarters of the long-defunct Glamorganshire Canal).

Pontypridd is enclosed on three sides … the Graig to the west, Graigwen to the north, and Ynysangharad Common to the east. All three provide great views across the town, but only the Common remains open and unspoilt by housing.

This shot, taken from the Common, is looking north west towards the housing that smothers the Graig. On warmer days, it’s great to simply sit on this bench and enjoy sunny afternoons … although Ponty is normally shrouded in haze on such days.

In days gone by, from here you probably would have been able to watch the flywheels turning at the Maritime Collery to the north west.

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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Avebury

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My desktop wallpaper today is this shot of one of the many standing stones of Avebury.

I’ve always had a fascination with standing stones, and one of my very first photography jaunts was when my friend Hugh kidnapped me in his company car (it had air-con … delicious, and rare back in the 1990’s) and whisked me down first to Stonehenge (which everyone has heard of) and then up to Avebury (which I’d never heard of at the time). We were shooting chemical back then (I’d just bought my first Nikon, an F55), and none of the (probably utterly rubbish) photos I took that day have survived (thankfully!)

I’ve been back to Avebury many many times since, but always struggle to take any photographs that do the place justice. It’s partly the beauty of the place, and partly that I spend all my time just gawping at the stones! This photo is possibly about the best I’ve managed so far. So I’ve picked this as my wallpaper today to remind me that it’s time to head back there again and have another go. Preferably in dry weather this time, so that I don’t have to try and salvage the photos by converting them to black and white :)

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Sunset On The Hill

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I’ve featured this photo before, but that’s not going to stop me choosing it as my desktop wallpaper for today. It was taken last year just after Easter weekend, and I’ve chosen it because I love the sunsets and the colours in the sky that we get at this time of year around here. Plus I’m much more a night person than a day person … when the sun goes down, it’s time to get my head down in ernest to get some code written. After all, all programmers know that the best code is written at 3am :)

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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The Pontypridd Sculpture

After the Brown Lennox site was cleared in 2009, this bright red sculpture appeared opposite, just outside the southern end of the Ynysangharad Park. It incorporates the Titanic (the chains for the Titanic were made at Brown Lennox), the old bridge that gives Pontypridd its name (which still stands today), and the flywheel from a mine lift (none of the mines have survived through to today).

It’s nice to see the much-maligned RCT making an effort in Pontypridd for a change, but like so much of what they do it just misses the mark. Why? Because if you’re coming north from Cardiff on the A470, this sculpture is mostly hidden from view by the turnoff into Pontypridd itself. Contrast that to other roadside art installations around the UK, such as the Angel of the North, which are sited specifically to be seen by approaching drivers.

I’m sure this thing must have an official name :) If anyone knows what it is, please leave a comment below.

It sits close to the now-lost route of the Pontypridd, Caerphilly and Newport Railway, and opposite the site where the Brown Lennox factory used to stand. In the background runs the line of the old Taff Vale Railway (TVR), today the main passenger line up and down the valleys. The road curving up and to the right crosses the River Taff.

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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