Living in the charming, old-world, little town of Ebbw Vale surely has its advantages. Photographer Alan Coles can certainly attest to that as he relishes strolling in the hills while indulging his favorite hobby, photography. Ebbw Vale is a town at the top of the valley made by the Ebbw Fawr tributary of the Ebbw River in Wales.
It is the biggest town and the administrative center of Blaenau Gwent county borough. Initially a rather unimportant place in rural Monmouthshire with only around 120 residents at the end of the 18th century, Ebbw Vale and the entire valley was changed profoundly by the Industrial Revolution.
The Ebbw Vale Iron Works, which later became the Ebbw Vale Steelworks, opened in 1778, followed by the establishment of numerous coal mines around 1790. At its peak in the early 1930s to 1940s, the steel works in Ebbw Vale was the biggest in Europe. That has since changed, and in 2002 a mere 450 people were working there, and by July of that year the final iron works ceased operations.
The Ebbw Vale shown by Cole is a much more desolate one as he shows some tranquil rolling hills. Coles shot breath-taking images of Ebbw Vale in dramatic black and white, with the pictures often adorned with an ethereal air.
As a resident of Ebbw Vale, Coles walks the gentle hills and takes photos as he goes along. He has also captured lovely snapshots of the mountain range Brecon Beacons in South Wales. The Brecon Beacons’ name refers to the range of Old Red Sandstone peaks well-liked by walkers, which lie to the south of Brecon. At times called “the central Beacons” they include South Wales’ tallest mountain, Pen y Fan.
Coles also shot a painting-like image of the Bristol Channel, which is a key inlet in the island of Great Britain, demarcating South Wales from Devon and Somerset in South West England.
See Coles’ images that celebrate the beauty of Wales here.