Sunday, February 25, 2007

Steel Town

I recently came across this 1952 edition of Picture Post (see pic). Inside is a big feature on the post-war steel boom in Ebbw Vale.

It's a very positive piece although somewhat stereotypical in its choice of photographic subject matter: the noble Welsh worker; the chapel; terraced cottages; brass bands; committees etc.

The aesthetic is somewhere between cosy Wales and Soviet Wales. Everyone is really into the joy of work and much is made of the area's socialist orthodoxy.

When not striking Stakhanov-like poses at the steel furnace the workers are shown enjoying picnics with their families at municipal parks. It's Ebbw Vale as a kind of socialist Eden.

One small nod toward the decadent joys of capitalism though - the Steel Town of the title refers both to Ebbw Vale and a Hollywood film showing in local cinemas at the time.

Ebbw Valians and others of an industrial persuasion can find the Steel Town article in Picture Post Vol 56 No 7, 16th August 1952.