Jamie George Stevens – Eradication
24th August - 29th September 2018
Eradication documents the disused Great Western Railway (GWR) line between Bala and Blaenau Ffestiniog in Snowdonia, North Wales.
The railway was built to try and capitalise on the slate industry around Blaenau Ffestiniog in the 1870s while serving an extremely remote area. This opened the door on a new and distant world for the scattered communities as the area was only served by the single width B4391 until the A4212 road opened in the early 1960s. The 25-mile route took 10 years to construct and consisted of 16 stops which were a combination of stations and halts. At the summit of the line, the main feature was the spectacular nine-arch Cwm Prysor viaduct, located at 1278 feet (390 metres) above sea level.
In 1955, plans were submitted by the Corporation of Liverpool to construct a reservoir in the valley above Bala to supply water to the growing population of Liverpool. The city had some of the worst slums in Britain post-war and they argued for more water for improved sanitation. This wasn’t the first time they had turned to Wales for water as eighty years earlier they drowned the village of Llanwddyn to create the Lake Vyrnwy Reservoir only 18 miles away. Residents were shocked by the news that their valley where the Welsh language was dominant may be drowned.
By obtaining authority through an Act of Parliament in 1957, Liverpool City Council avoided having to gain consent from the Welsh planning authorities, and in 1965 after hard campaigning and attempts to stop the construction with several sabotages, the Tryweryn valley was flooded. The village post office, school, chapel and cemetery, were all lost. Twelve houses and farms were also submerged, and 48 people of the 67 who lived in the valley lost their homes. This also led to over a mile of the railway line being flooded along with parts of the B4391.
Although the powers granted under the act allowed for a diversion of the line, the British Transport Commission decided that the level of traffic would not justify the expenditure of £1,000,000 that re-routing of the line would entail. To allow the new works to proceed, passenger services ceased in January 1960 with the freight following a year later. Local people fought hard to save the line as it was regarded as the only means of transport for the local community. Even to this day, there is resentment to the flooding of the valley and the eradication of the village which was one of the last monoglot Welsh speaking communities.
It is known as one of the most controversial construction projects in modern Welsh history.
'Eradication' documents part of the disused line where it was at its most remote, through photographing the track bed which has been reclaimed by nature since its closure, and also by highlighting the environment and evidence of current usage of the land. The photographs appear in sequence from Bryncelynog halt, heading east through several halts and stations towards the former location of Tyddyn Bridge halt around nine and a half miles further.
Jamie George Stevens
Jamie is based in Llanrug, North Wales. Using disposable cameras along with his dad’s photographic knowledge gave him the opportunity to start experimenting with the medium from an early age, but being highly involved in outdoor activities and growing up close to the Snowdonia National Park became the main pathway into photography. Jamie’s mind was set on a career in sports teaching after competing at international levels throughout his childhood, but after completing his A Levels in 2012 he decided to change direction and follow a career in photography.
In 2014, Jamie decided to study a Foundation Degree in Photography at Coleg Llandrillo Menai, Rhos-On-Sea. After graduating with a First Class Foundation Degree in July 2016, Jamie moved to London to continue his studies to top-up to a Bachelor of Arts Photography Degree at London South Bank University, where he has recently achieved a First Class Honours.
Spending the past few years in London has allowed Jamie to develop various bodies of work about his home location, through using industrialisation and landscapes as his subjects, drawing on their history.
After several successful group exhibitions both local and in London, this is Jamie’s first Solo exhibition.
Difodiad – Jamie George Stevens
Prosiect sy’n dogfennu llinell Great Western Railway (GWR) rhwng Bala a Blaenau Ffestiniog yn Eryri, Gogledd Cymru yw Difodiad.
Adeiladwyd y rheilffordd er mwyn manteisio ar y diwydiant llechi yn ardal Blaenau Ffestiniog yn y 1870au ac er mwyn gwasanaethu ardal anghysbell iawn. Agorodd hyn y drysau at fyd newydd a phell ar gyfer y cymunedau gwledig oherwydd yr unig ffordd i deithio yn yr ardal hon cyn hynny oedd y ffordd un lôn B4391 nes i'r A4212 agor yn y 1960au cynnar. Treuliwyd 10 mlynedd yn adeiladu’r llwybr 25 milltir, roedd 16 stop ar hyd y ffordd yn cynnwys gorsafoedd ac arosfeydd. Ar frig y llinell roedd traphont naw arch arbennig Cwm Prysor, sydd 1278 troedfedd (390 medr) uwchben lefel y môr.
Ym 1955, cyflwynwyd cynlluniau gan Gorfforaeth Lerpwl i godi cronfa ddŵr yn y dyffryn uwchben Y Bala i gyflenwi dŵr i boblogaeth cynyddol Lerpwl. Roedd rhai o’r slymiau gwaethaf ym Mhrydain yn y dref yn dilyn y rhyfel, ac roeddent yn ceisio cael mwy o ddŵr ar gyfer glanweithdra gwell. Nid hwn oedd y tro cyntaf iddynt droi at Gymru am ddŵr, oherwydd wyth deg o flynyddoedd yn gynt, bu iddynt foddi pentref Llanwddyn i greu Cronfa Ddŵr Llyn Efyrnwy sydd 18 milltir yn unig i ffwrdd. Roedd y newyddion o’r bwriad i foddi eu dyffryn lle'r oedd yr Iaith Gymraeg yn ffynnu yn sioc enfawr i drigolion.
Drwy ennill awdurdod gan Ddeddf Seneddol ym 1967, llwyddodd Cyngor Tref Lerpwl i osgoi gorfod cael caniatâd gan awdurdodau cynllunio Cymru, ac ym 1965, yn dilyn llawer o ymgyrchu a sawl ymdrech i rwystro'r gwaith adeiladu â sawl difrod, boddwyd dyffryn Tryweryn. Collwyd swyddfa bost, ysgol, capel a mynwent y pentref.Yn ogystal â hynny, boddwyd deuddeg o dai a ffermydd, a chollodd 48 allan o 67 o'r bobl a oedd yn byw yn y dyffryn eu cartrefi. Arweiniodd hyn at bron i filltir o'r llinell rheilffordd hefyd yn cael ei boddi ynghyd â rhannau o'r B4391.
Er bod y pwerau a roddir dan y ddeddf yn caniatáu gwyriad i'r llinell, penderfynodd y Comisiwn Cludiant Prydeinig na fyddai lefel y traffig yn cyfiawnhau gwario £1,000,000 ar ail-osod y llinell.Er mwyn dechrau ar y gwaith, daeth y gwasanaeth i deithwyr i ben ym mis Ionawr 1960 â'r gwasanaeth cludo yn dod i ben flwyddyn yn ddiweddarach.Brwydrodd y bobl leol yn galed er mwyn ceisio arbed y llinell oherwydd ystyriwyd hon fel yr unig fodd o deithio i'r gymuned leol. Hyd yn oed hyd heddiw, mae drwgdeimlad am foddi’r dyffryn a difodi’r pentref, a oedd yn un o’r cymunedau uniaith Gymraeg olaf. Dyma un o’r prosiectau adeiladu mwyaf dadleuol yn hanes modern Cymru.
Mae’r prosiect hwn yn dogfennu rhan o’r llinell nas ddefnyddir bellach yn ei hardaloedd mwyaf gwledig, drwy dynnu lluniau o olion y trac sydd wedi'u hawlio gan natur ers ei chau, ac amlygu’r amgylchedd a’r dystiolaeth o ddefnydd presennol y tir. Mae’r lluniau yn ymddangos mewn trefn o arosfa Bryncelynog, yn anelu i’r dwyrain drwy sawl arosfa a gorsaf tuag at hen leoliad arosfa Tyddyn Bridge tua naw milltir a hanner ymhellach.