Geoff Charles (1909 – 2002) occupies a unique position in a tradition of press photography and photojournalism within Wales. Born in Brymbo, Wrexham, Charles’ worked for newspapers and magazines such as Wrexham Star, Montgomeryshire Express, Y Cymro and Farmers Weekly.
He studied at the University of London, obtaining a first-class diploma in journalism in 1928. Returning to Wales, he was involved in one of the Wrexham Star‘s scoops when he gained access to the lamp room of Gresford Colliery following the disaster there in 1934 to reveal the true number of casualties. During the war years he worked for the War Office to improve farming practices and after the war he again worked for the Welsh language newspaper Y Cymro. Among the notable events he covered include the flooding of the Tryweryn Valley and the village of Capel Celyn and the related protests in the early 60s. Above all, his archive combines some of the major social and political changes in Wales with a far greater account of quotidian life. It is in the celebration of the seemingly ordinary and overlooked moments that his photography becomes distinctive as social and historical document.
The National Library of Wales houses the Geoff Charles Collection, which consists of over 120,000 negatives.