A BBC Cymru Wales film about the chance discovery of 18,000 unpublished photographic negatives depicting life in the Valleys during the 1960s and 70s is currently in production and needs your help.

I have been photographing the Rhondda Fawr for several years, because I love the changing topography, the architecture, and most of all, the people!

Can you help identify the people or place in this 'Gambo' derby?

This work led to me being asked to do a project celebrating the communities of Cwmparc and Treorchy, two very different but closely-knit villages at the top of Rhondda Fawr. While Cwmparc is now sleepy and idyllically placed at the foot of the Bwlch mountain, Treorchy is a thriving and vibrant shopping stop-off.

Treorchy stands out because it has retained many attributes now sadly missing from other Valley towns - Bute Street is a vibrant shopping centre; It has a fantastic theatre, the Park and Dare; and it also has a brilliant library.

Can you remember when elephants came to Merthyr high street?

Researching my new project in that library led to one of those life-diverting moments that come along every so often. I was allowed into a storeroom behind the reference section, and directed to eight anonymous cardboard boxes.

Opening the first one was like releasing the genie from the bottle - tens of little yellow Kodak boxes from the 1960s were in there. Tentatively I opened the first one that came to hand, and I genuinely couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that the first packet of negatives was labelled 'Enoch Powell visits Merthyr' in a clear hand, written in old-fashioned fountain pen.

Are these Freddie and the Dreamers' Freddie Garrity and Bernie Dwyer playing football?

To my amazement, they were ALL full of old photographs and negatives, and as I looked more closely I realised I had discovered the most incredible archive of life in the Valleys. I was told they had been donated to the library by a local family after the owner died, and after more digging I learnt that this amazing collection was the work of Rhondda-based photographer, David Thickins.

The boxes contained about 18,000 negatives and a handful of black and white photographs. There were pictures of ordinary people going about their everyday lives, as well as celebrity visits to the area, political rallies, circus shows and even - bizarrely - car crashes.

Superstar singer Petula Clark - but where is she?

The photographs dated from the 1960s and 70s; they were beautiful and haunting and provided a unique record of a lost era. I decided to find out more about the people featured in some of the photographs and began to visit some of the places I was able to identify.

I now need to widen my search, and hope that this blog can help. A small selection of the pictures are featured here - do you know any of the people in them? Can you tell me where they were taken? Maybe you have elderly relatives who lived in the area or who may have been at one of the events?

Here I am just showing a handful of pictures, but there are hundreds more. Please get in touch if you think you can give me any information about them.

Discover more pictures on BBC Wales' Facebook album.


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