Real Port Talbot
Port Talbot is for many a version of the ‘Valleys-by-the-sea’ and certainly its heavy industry, shoehorned into a narrow belt of flat land, feels like a twenty-first century throwback to coal-mining Rhondda. It is the result of an old fashioned local industrial baron building a port to export his coal, and of the politically-inspired siting of heavy industry in the post-war period. But it has a more genteel past as a resort, and may have a more dynamic ‘clean’ future as a centre of environmental research and practice. The cultural event that was ‘The Passion’ in April 2011 is a further clue as to new directions which the town might take. That event also links to Port Talbot’s other famous export, actors: Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Sheen.
Real Port Talbot takes Michael Sheen’s description of the “small but mythic town of Port Talbot ... a town of earthly and sometimes unearthly delights”, and goes in search of those delights. Using the series mix of history, the author’s personal memories and oblique approaches to the physical aspects of the locale, Lynne Rees explores her past and discovers a place both familiar and unexpectedly new. Her text is accompanied by similarly oblique photographs of the town.