THE THREAT of having their village swallowed up by residential development has led to a unique and historical record of Henllys Village being produced by its young people.Members of the village Amenity Committee fought a public inquiry five years ago opposing plans to build a 2,000 house development on their doorstep. The enquiry failed leaving the Amenity Association with £150 to spare in the fighting fund.
This they gave to the village school for it to be used to produce a record of the village before development. The school contacted Jenny Barnes, a professional photographer known for her sympathies for the village, and a deal was struck to produce a book recording, through photographs and children's writings and drawings, the life of Henllys.
At a special end of term concert last month, a more than usually packed hall saw the fruits of this twelve-month long project, which included a special slide show containing a small but fascinating selection from the 1,000 photographs that Jenny Barnes had taken.
These included shots of village houses, some of which are over 400 years old and are a living museum of time gone by.
There was also a selection of slides portraying wildlife around the village which included some rare wild flowers.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a beautifully presented book with historical records, drawings and photographs capturing life in this extraordinary community.
It was presented to Mr Alan Baulch of the Amenity Association by Mr Arthur England, chairman of the county education committee, who admitted to having never visited Henllys before and being surprised that such a historical and important community could have escaped his attention for so long.
Discussions are now afoot to mount the exhibition somewhere in the centre before it is placed in the archives of Torfaen Museum. But Jenny Barnes quietly admits that her work, far from being finished, has only just begun.
It is a credit to the entire community, and particularly to the children and teachers of the school, that the project has been submitted to the Prince of Wales Committee for consideration for an environmental study reward. But even if it fails, so much will have been learnt not only by the villagers, but also by many whom though Henllys was just a nice place to walk.
By Sue Pickavance