The Shell Guide to South-West Wales (1)

Using the second edition of the Shell Guide to South West Wales in its second edition (first edition published 1963, second edition 1976), I became intrigued by the quality and character of the photographs, invariably black-and-white, in a tradition of people-less, atmospheric photography of wild landscape and cottages (there is also a page of vanished workers’ cottages in Llanelli).   Most of the photographs were taken by John Piper, a great photographer, and his son, Edward, who died young, but some were taken by someone called Peter Burton.   Who he ?   It turns out that he was a school master in Scarborough who had read English and Spanish at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he had rooms under Wittgenstein, with whom he would go for walks in Grantchester Meadow.   A bachelor, he was a keen amateur photographer who sent examples of his work on spec to John Betjeman, the editor of the Shell Guides, who recognised the quality of his work and thereafter commissioned him.   One of his photographs of Whitby Abbey apparently hung in the lavatory at John Piper’s house in Fawley Bottom.

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3 thoughts on “The Shell Guide to South-West Wales (1)

  1. A lovely, generous tribute to Betjeman and the Shell Guides ( quite right ) but your Blog/Book suffers not one jot in comparison, either in text or photographically. And like the Shell Guides, will last.

  2. Dan Franklin says:

    Charles, when I was a Collins many years ago I did a wonderful book by Henry Thorold called THE CATHEDRALS, ABBEYS AND PRIORIES of ENGLAND AND WALES, with photographs by Peter Burton. It was very much in the Shell Guides tradition.

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