“This project is a documentary of the small village Aberfan, located in the South of Wales. It was a typical mining town with back to back terraced homes where people would sit on their front step and chat whilst their children played in the street. This all changed on the 21st October 1966. At approximately 9:15 am on that day the colliery spoil tip at location 7, positioned to the East side of Mynydd Merthyr Hill collapsed.
However, this all could have been prevented. In 1963 alarms were raised when residents realised that Tip 7 was actually built on a spring, and had slipped over the years. Nothing came about from the alarms, until, 7:30am on the 21st October 1966. The tip had been reported to have slipped 20ft after several days of straight rain. By that time, it was too late and nothing could be done.
Pantglas Junior School was engulfed in the rubble which at the time was housing 240 students. For what many thought was the last day of the first term back at school would actually be their last. Unfortunately, on that day 144 people lost their lives including 116 school children. Many of the churches around the town became a place of reflection for many of the families.
Wondering up to the cemetery you feel a sense of tranquillity. The gardens hold pearl white arches which interlink the graves together as one. They symbolise a day of tragic loss, but offer a place to soothe broken hearts of family whose lives changed that day.
In addition to the documentation of the town, there is also a personal story from Reverend Irving Penberthy who was one of the Ministers at the time. Whilst I was photographing Rev Penberthy for this project his wife also passed away, the images became very thought-provoking and actual offer a feeling of mourning in themselves.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I am currently coming towards the end of my degree at the University of Gloucestershire where I have been studying Photography: Editorial and Advertising, voted AOP’s Best Course. I tend to focus on landscape documentary with elements of portraiture. For me I love to research and understand a place before visiting and capturing the surroundings. I like to become part of the community; I never want my images to feel as if I am just a fly on the wall.
I grew up in Cornwall which is where my passion and inspirations evolve from. The Sunday walks with the family along the beach at Perranporth, or the late evening strolls along the coast line by Polzeath really triggered my creative flare within photography. I am currently based in Cheltenham, so have been very fortunate to swap one beautiful location for another.
Thank you Joshua for sharing your work with Togspace. Are you accepting any commissions at the current time or in the future?
Yes, I'm more than happy to accept commissions at the moment.
I'm planning on moving to London next month but am more than willing to travel for anything. Once I’ve moved, I have some new projects on the horizon which is going to look at the forgotten towns of London’s outskirts