My name’s Mel Rohse and I’m thrilled to be part of the Stories of Change project, especially because it brings together people from a range of disciplines across several universities to work with stories. I’m one of the researchers on the smaller project within Stories of Change called Everyday Lives. I’m based at Birmingham but our team is split between the University of Birmingham and the University of South Wales, and as you may have already read in previous blogposts, our work is based in Wales. So last month, I paid the rest of the team a small visit. I’m French and I’d not been to Wales much before and not for very long so I was very much looking forward to the trip to discover the country a little but more.
My colleague David played tour guide and after some productive meetings in Clydach Vale with potential partners, we set off for a mini road trip through the Rhondda Valley starting in Pontypridd and heading up to Aberdare before driving past the site of Tower Colliery and up the Rhigos Road to take in the view of the valleys.
After a small stop to take some photos, we headed back to Pontypridd but via Treherbert and Treorchy this time. I found the landscape really fascinating. We’re interested in energy and the history of coal mining in Wales is part of that. Although I grew up in a city, there is also a history of coal mining in my native region back in France, Lorraine. But the landscape back home is very different. Lorraine is a plateau and the few coal mining sites I’ve visited are vast flat expanses so it was interesting to drive through some of the old mining communities in the Rhondda Valley and think of the challenges that the hills must have raised there for the industry. And what is the role of the landscape now in people’s lives? If the landscape is strikingly different, I’m expecting there could be similarities between the human experiences of life Wales and in Lorraine during and after long coal mining eras.I look forward to finding out more when we talk to people about their stories of energy.