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Photographer who captured ‘defining’ image of Aberfan disaster dies at 85

A regional press photographer who captured the “defining” image of a disaster which killed 144 people has died aged 85.

Tributes have been paid to Godfrey Harris, who worked for Cardiff-based dailies the South Wales Echo and Western Mail for more than 40 years.

Godfrey covered the aftermath of the Aberfan disaster, which claimed the lives of 116 children and 28 adults when a colliery waste tip slipped down a mountainside into the Glamorgan pit village.

He took a photo of a dirt-covered clock, recovered from the wreckage, which had stopped ticking at 9.13am on 21 October 1966 – the time the landslide started.

In an obituary on the Wales Online website, the picture has been described as the “defining” image of the tragedy.

Godfrey Harris, left, and his 'stopped clock' photo taken in the aftermath of the Aberfan disaster

Godfrey Harris, left, and his ‘stopped clock’ photo taken in the aftermath of the Aberfan disaster

Starting as a messenger for the Echo and the Mail as a teenager, Godfrey worked his way up to the position of photographer and later became photographic manager.

He was also present during the investiture of Prince Charles on 1 July 1969, in front of 4,000 guests at Caernarfon Castle.

Retiring in the early 1990s, Godfrey continued his passion for photography, spending his free time capturing images of the countryside around his home after moving to Brecon.

Godfrey died on 16 December 2017, after a short battle with pneumonia.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Margaret, son Christopher and daughter Jane.

Christopher said: “Photography was his main passion, he would always be taking a lot of photos in the countryside in later years. My father was dependable and reliable and honest. What you saw was what you got with him.

“He was quiet but liked a good laugh and was very sociable and gentle. He was great with the kids and helped my son’s own interest in photography, giving his advice.”

Godfrey’s funeral will take place on Friday at Kensington Baptist Church, in Brecon.

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