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Photo treasure trove charts key decades in Swansea’s rich history

Swansea Museum
A priceless collection of photos showing Swansea more than half a century ago is now in the safekeeping of Swansea Museum.
The evocative images show the area in the 1960s and 1970s – around the time it became a city.
They were all taken by celebrated artist George Little who died in 2017, aged 89.
His widow Carolyn, of Caswell, has gifted them the Swansea Council-run museum for the good of people across the city.
Council cabinet member Elliott King said: “George Little’s photo archive is a beautiful collection of important imagery.
“It’ll be valuable to local people now and in future generations as they seek to understand Swansea of the 60s and 70s.
“There’s so much to treasure in the collection and we’re very grateful indeed to Carolyn for allowing the collection to become part of the council’s permanent collection.”
Carolyn Little said: “I’m delighted that George’s photographs will stay in the city he loved and documented.
“He was best known as a painter but he was also a very accomplished photographer.
“It’s good that Swansea Museum values the collection highly and is eager to use it for the good of local people now and in future.”
As a painter, Swansea-born George Little chronicled the heavy industry of South Wales.
He was a student and, later, an academic at Swansea School of Art – and other teaching posts included Swansea University where he was a founder of the Taliesin arts complex.
After his death, Mrs Little invited Swansea Museum exhibitions officer Karl Morgan to view the archive.
He said: “The collection, which George had carefully built up and curated, blew my mind – the hundreds of negatives in the archive show that he was a fantastic photographer in addition to his skill as a painter.
“Swansea became a city in 1969 and the images show the area immediately before and after that momentous change in status.
“Last year we put on a really popular exhibition that featured some of the images. We’ll continue to make them accessible to our visitors in the best ways we can.
“Already we sell postcards featuring some of the pictures – they’re very popular indeed.”
The museum hosted an event (note: on October 26) that launched a new biography – George Little: The Ugly Lovely Landscape by art historian Peter Wakelin, originally from Swansea.
Mrs Little’s gift to the museum was announced at the same time.
The gift includes large oil painting The Cockle Women of Penclawdd, completed in 1953. It complements the museum’s highly regarded collection relating to Penclawdd’s cockle industry.
Peter Wakelin said: “Some of George’s photographs appear in my book as do many of his paintings.
“Born in the east end of Swansea in 1927 he grew up next to the abandoned copper works, slag heaps and still-busy docks of Dylan Thomas’s ‘ugly, lovely town’.
“As a teenager the destruction of the Swansea Blitz was seared into his imagination.
“He brought a deep visual knowledge to a life’s work exploring the dramatic forms of industrial and urban decay in photographs, drawings and paintings.”