"For 35 years this extraordinary collection of photographs remained hidden from the world. Taken around 1971/2, by 19 year old photographer Robert Haines, they record life in the Welsh valleys, in the village of Heolgerrig and nearby Merthyr Tydfil. Heolgerrig a very close-knit community with Welsh the first language. It was a mining community where most of the men worked underground and life seemed to revolve around the pub and the chapel. Merthyr Tydfil, once the ‘Iron Capital’ of the world, had a justifiable reputation as ‘tough’ with characters such as hard man, Melvin Webber, who died after being blasted by a shotgun, and ‘Mad’ Malcolm for whom no chemical substance was too strong"   Dewi Lewis


Book info

The book was published by Dewi Lewis Publishing of the UK on 24th April 2008. It was printed by EBS in Verona, Italy. It has 96 pages with 71 duotone images.

price £14.99
ISBN: 978-1-904587-57-6

The book is available to order from all bookshops
It is also available online from Amazon in most countries.

The first edition is now out of print. Copies sometimes become available on Amazon.

Exhibitions by

Lighthouse Gallery

Lighthouse Gallery

Exhibitions at Lighthouse Gallery in Wolverhampton, National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and Cyfarthfa Museum and Art Gallery

Some of the book reviews

The Guardian

"Home on vacation in 1972, a photography student saw that the essence of his Welsh town was about to be torn apart by redevelopment. Now the social significance of his images has been recognised. Chris Arnot reports..."

Link: The Guardian


The Independent

"In the early 1970s, Robert Haines, as a young photographer, returned to his roots to document life in the mining communities of the Welsh Valleys. Unpublished for 35 years, the results offer a fascinating glimpse of a vanished past. Introduction by Paul Vallely..."

Link: The Independent


Ag Magazine

8 page portfolio in Spring 2008 edition of Ag Magazine Ag51- The International Journal of Photographic Art & Practice.

Link: Ag Magazine


The Times

The image of Dai Edwards giving a child his first taste of beer in Heolgerrig Club is featured as the image of the day. 22.04.08

Link: The Times


Les Rencontres Photographiques d'Arles

The book was exhibited over the summer at LES RENCONTRES PHOTOGRAPHIQUES D'ARLES in the South of France as part of the publisher's selection of candidates for the Contemporary Book Award.

Link: Rencontres Photographies D'Arles



Feature on the S4C television Arts programme Wedi 7
Broadcast 9th October 2008

Link: S4C


BBC Wales

Interview with Mal Pope on the Roy Noble show on BBC Wales 25.04.08 about book and images from the Gower in the current Paris exhibition.

Link: BBC Wales


Black & White Magazine

Interview and seven page feature in September 2008 edition.


Babylon Wales review

Book review on Babylon Wales website

"The Valleys have an enduring appeal for photographers. For decades the mining areas of south Wales have been a magnet for social realist snappers keen to capture the 'authentic' or chronicle a disappearing way of life. Robert Frank’s early-fifties sojourn in Caerau being a prime example. Whilst the quality of Frank's work is undeniable, one can’t entirely eradicate the notion that many of these outsiders turned up with the specific intention of transforming poverty into coffee table art.

Once Upon a Time in Wales is excellent and should be a strong contender for Welsh book of the year (next year). It is published by Dewi Lewis and is on sale now."

Link:Babylon Wales


Amateur Photographer Magazine

"Documentary photography may not be everyone's cup of tea, but we should all be grateful to Robert Haines for this collection of black & white photographs, taken in the early 1970s, documenting life in the small Welsh communities of Heolgerrig and Merthyr Tydfil." 

Link: Amateur Photographer



"These are honest, poignant pictures with a gritty realism that beautifully captures a bygone era. Considering the radical redevelopment of the past 35 years, they are now an important record of Welsh social history. But though the photographs are superb..."


Link: Metro

Cyfarthfa Museum and Art Gallery

Cyfarthfa Museum and Art Gallery