The amazing photographs were taken by Tom Mathias, a self-taught photographer, at the turn of the 20th Century. Using simple equipment, Tom Mathias recorded the daily life around the Cilgerran district of Dyfed, west Wales.
Following Mathias’s death in 1940 all his negatives were dumped in an outhouse, where they lay, forgotten, for more than thirty years.
James Maxwell (Maxi) Davis, a professional photographer living in the area, discovered them in the 1970s. The glass negatives were in a very poor condition. Many were broken and damaged beyond repair. Most of the reminder were very badly degraded, meaning a slow and painstaking process to print what images could be saved. Enough had survived however for Maxi to appreciate the importance of what he had found and set about the task of conserving and restoring the photographs.
It is thanks to these efforts that Tom Mathias’s remarkable photographs have been saved for posterity.