Port Talbot, Wales / by Alastair Wiper

port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-11

Port Talbot is a town on the south coast of Wales, about one hour west of Cardiff. The town is dominated by the huge steelworks which opened in 1952 and was, at that time, the largest steelworks in Europe and the biggest employer in Wales with 18,000 employees. A chemical plant followed in 1960, and in 1970 a massive new harbour was opened to bring in iron ore to be used at the steelworks.

It was a true Welsh summers day when I visited Port Talbot - grey and drizzling. As I drove along the M4 on the way to Port Talbot, the huge steelworks appeared on the horizon and stayed there for the duration of the visit. Several very famous actors have grown up with those steelworks as part of their daily lives - Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Michael Sheen and Rob Brydon were all brought up in Port Talbot - not to mention Pancho (the little one) from Dirty Sanchez. It's interesting to think about what it is like to live in an industrial town like this, where the life of the town is dominated by the industry both physically and in terms of employment and economy. For those of you who haven't been there, south Wales is a beautiful place and you only have to turn your back on the steelworks and look in the other direction to see this, so I imagine escape is fairly easy ...

Demand for steel in Europe has dropped by 25% since 2007, and is forecast to fall another 10% this year. In November 2012 Tata Steel, owner of the steelworks, announced they would be cutting 600 jobs in Port Talbot.

port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-26
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-1
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-2
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-22
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-10
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-1
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-3
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-5
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-7
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-27
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-24
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-9
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-12
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-13
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-14
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-15
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-16
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-17
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-18
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-19
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-28
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-25
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-23
port-talbot-©-alastair-philip-wiper-21
Posted in