Miss Gwladys Davies was a local historian and keen photographer who, between the mid 1930s and the mid 1960s, captured on film a large number of views of Gloucestershire. More than 1000 of these have survived, mainly in the form of negatives, and are now at Gloucestershire Archives [D14791].
The collection has been hitherto little used, mainly because it is comprised mainly of negatives with some small contact prints and so until now it has been difficult to see what each image contained.
However in 2018, members of the Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology (GSIA) digitised the collection and have been working to put the images online
Of particular interest to GSIA are nearly 400 images of the local mills. Most of the photographs are of the small village corn mills, rather than the large cloth mills. Miss Davies also appears to have had an interest in moated sites and this section of the collection contains 120 photographs. A further 500 items show various views and buildings from around the County. Currently only the 'mills' section of the collection is online.
While Miss Davies provided most of the photographs with at least a very brief caption it is unfortunate that she gave the date for only a few of them. However, we are fortunate that she used “120” medium format rather than 35mm film which, all other things being equal, greatly improves the quality of the final images. Inevitably, some of the images do lack contrast or are slightly out of focus but this is a relatively small price to pay for the wealth of interest they contain.
It is interesting that some sites appear to have changed little over the years and in other cases Miss Davies has captured buildings that have long since been demolished.
At present GSIA knows very little about Miss Davies. It is known that she was born on 24 February 1903 in Montgomery, Mid Wales and that at the time of the 1911 census she and her family were living at Ironbridge in Shropshire. At some later date the family set up home at 11 Midland Road Gloucester. This was the address of her father, John Davies when he died in 1934 and it remained her only known address up to her death on 9 August 1985.
Miss Davies was a primary school teacher and from newspaper reports was active in the Gloucestershire Welsh Society and the Gloucester branch of the Workers Education Association. She published articles in the GSIA Newsletter in the 1960s and in Glevensis, the Journal of Gloucestershire Archaeology during the 1970s.
Very rarely are people included in photographs, but in just one of the 1000 plus images there is a lady standing next to her bicycle. The same bicycle appears in a couple more shots and it is tempting to think that this might be Miss Davies.
If anyone can supply further information GSIA will be very pleased to hear from them. Contact information is available at www.gsia.org.uk or send an email to enquiriies@ gsia.org.uk