A PHOTOGRAPHER has captured the past and present of a Gwent manufacturing site.

Newport documentary photographer Robert Smith’s most recent work is part of an exhibition that is on show until the end of the month at the Sustainable Studio in Cardiff as part of the Diffusion Festival.

This Human Fabric project investigated the former site of the British Nylon Spinners at Mamhilad near Pontypool, which was built for the production of nylon thread in 1948.

The South Wales Argus featured an appeal for people who worked at the factory for the project in January.

He said: “It came about when I went to see the factory with friends. When having a look around the factory I fell in love with the site. That led me to the Pontypool Museum and they let me spend a lot of time scanning photographs and documents, and that became the backbone of the work.

“30 people got in touch with me about the site and every week I get new contacts. I record their stories and take their portraits.”

The factory was designed by architect Sir Percy Thomas and, at the height of nylon production in the 1960s, it was estimated that nearly 10,000 people worked throughout the industrial complex.

The exhibition shows new photos taken at the Mamhilad factory over the last three years, together with historical archive images and films on the manufacturing process of nylon from the Pontypool Museum archive. It also features testimonies and photographs of people who worked at the factory before it closed in 2003.

The Mamhilad Park Estate is now located at the former manufacturing centre and office space is being refurbished in an ongoing programme by owners Johnsey Estates Ltd.

Find out more about Mr Smith’s work at