I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the idea of value and worth.
Originally I set off on my trip with the idea of asking, ‘Is manufacturing in developed countries worthwhile?’
The problem with that question then is the definition of what is ‘worth’ our ‘while’.
I found a description recently that talked about value:
The word value, it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and sometimes expresses the utility of some particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing other goods which the possession of that object conveys.
The things which have the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange; on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have frequently little or no value in use. Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarcely anything; scarcely anything can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarcely any use-value; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it.
The real price of every thing, what every thing really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it
– Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
But Hans and I drove to Tal-y-bont today.
In the Welsh rain we arrived at the pub and asked a young boy for a cup of tea and some information about the abandoned mills.
He advised me against visiting the Lerry (Leri) Mills as the land it was on was apparently owned by a very grumpy old man. I wasn’t too fussed as it had also been photographed really well in this article.
So I went to the abandoned mill behind the town’s garage.
It is in amongst the nettles and the blackberries and is filled with the old machinery and threads.
I freaked myself out a few times in the dark, but I took footage until my camera ran out of battery.
It still has threads in drawers, on the floor, on the machines.
The Victorian desk in the corner has inscriptions under the lid of pupils from the 1850s. There is an order form from January 1959, bags of wool, rusting machinery.
What got to me, as I stood by myself in the centre of it all, was that this building and all its contents had and still has no value.
No one sold the machinery on, collected and reused the threads, picked up the wool.
It was left.
And still is.
Here are some stills.