When people think of Port Talbot, they are probably most likely to associate it with its famous steelworks which towers above.

But just a few miles away lies contrasting natural beauty, Aberavon Beach.

Along the seafront you can catch a glimpse of its stunning sunsets, enjoy fish and chips and play a game of crazy golf with your family.

But as much as the area has to offer today, it looks very different to its glory days of the 1950s and 60s.

Harry Worth is someone who looks back on that period very fondly.

Aberavon in the 1960s

He worked at probably one of Aberavon's most iconic venues, the Afan Lido, for three decades.

"The lido was opened in 1966 by the Queen and then the sports centre was added on to it. It had a 50 metre pool with 10 metre diving boards," he remembered.

"There was a function room and restaurant while you had thousands working at the steelworks and Metal Box factory. Many of them would use the room for their work dos. That became more common in the 60s and 70s.

"The sports hall could fit eight badminton courts and could seat around 2,300 people. Lots of famous people performed there including Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey. It was able to compete with St Davids Hall, but as more venues came to Cardiff, acts would go there instead."

Tragically the lido, which was integral to the local economy, was damaged in two separate fires.

"There was a fire while the firefighters were on strike (in 1978) - a minor fire became a major fire and then (in 2009) the pool caught fire again, after it had been turned into a pleasure pool with slides," Mr Worth explained.

In December, 2009, more than 100 firefighters tackled the enormous fire, which destroyed the lido as people knew it.

Looking across the sunken gardens alongside the promenade at Aberavon Beach towards the Afan Lido, 1965
South Wales Evening Post
The site of the former Afan Lido complex in Aberavon when it was earmarked for redevelopment
South Wales Evening Post
Firefighters use an aerial platform to assess the damage done to the roof at the Aquadome on Aberavon seafront

Roads were closed and homes were evacuated as flames burst through the roof.

Six years later, it was replaced by the current Aberafan Sports and Leisure complex.

"It's a shadow of its former self, but it is still a very nice community pool," said Mr Worth.

"I think people in Port Talbot still have a real affection for the old lido. People went there with their schools, it had squash courts, you could see entertainment, people got married there and enjoyed other functions."

But it wasn't just the lido that brought the masses to Aberavon seafront.

"In the 60s on a sunny day every car park would be full, it really was a very busy time along the seafront," said Mr Worth.

"Jersey Beach Hotel was near the pool, now there are flats there, but it had been there a very long time. Day's fair was near it and just across the road was Miami Beach Fair.

"It was an established hotel with a strong trade in functions and events. It was there before the war and went around the 90s before it was destroyed by a fire.

"We also had a rollerskating park long before it was popular, where you could hire a couple of skates and go around the tarmac."

The former Jersey Hotel on Aberavon seafront
A fire at the Jersey Beach Hotel, Aberavon, in 2001
Aberavon seafront's Miami Beach in the 1960s

Local resident Bernard Donovan, 86, also had happy memories of the seafront as it boomed.

He was among the original 20 who took part in the Round The Pier Swim and has been involved with organising it ever since.

"From the 1950s was the boom period in line with the building of Sandfields housing estate, the Abbey Works and Aberavon promenade.

"The first kiosk appeared before the war and the promenade and it sold cider pop. Then when the promenade was built, there were kiosks all along it. You could buy beach balls, sticks of rock, buckets and spades - all sorts.

"They weren't sit down areas, if you wanted to sit down you could go to the Alexandra cafe for chips or a coke, it's where the Gallois is now.

"Many people used to bring their own food to eat on the beach as it was cheaper. The kiosks were there for decades but were demolished in the most recent refurbishment. Franco's fish and chip shop was one of the only places that survived and that was upgraded to a lovely restaurant in recent years."

He recalled local legend Bryn Thomas, who was known for holding a beach pavilion in the 1950s.

"It was an open air stage with a covered roof and came four or five months a year. It had a large lawn area where people would sit on deck chairs. Bryn would organise amateur shows for those coming down to visit the beach.

"There was also Miami Beach funfair that was on the seafront for about 15 or 20 years and it had everything such as the big dipper and bumper cars. It was a fully fledged amusement park and stretched four or five acres.

"The boat lake was very popular and is missed by many people. You would pay and get to row boats for about half an hour with little oars. It was only about a foot deep so if a child fell in they could stand up."

The boating pool at Aberavon seafront and Bay View Social Club under construction in the 1960s

Mia McNab, 47, is granddaughter of Franco Di Francesco, who opened Franco's in 1970.

She now runs the business, as well as seafront cafe, Remos, with her brother and sister.

"As a lot of Italians did, my granddad came here to work at the steelworks. He originally bought a chip shop on North Hill Road in Swansea.

"Along Aberavon seafront were tea gardens - businesses selling different things like sweets all along the promenade. My grandparents had one that sold tea and sandwiches.

"Then they bought a fish and chip shop there - Franco's. It was established in 1970 and my dad, uncle and aunt worked there alongside my grandparents.

"In the 1980s, my granddad had a stroke and then my dad took over until he retired. I work here with my sister and my brother is over in Remos, we all love working together.

"It was rebuilt in the early 90s to a bigger premises and then in 2015, it was rebuilt as a restaurant about 20 feet to the left. Then about 16 years ago we opened Remos. It's an ice-cream parlour but it offers much more. We make our own ice-cream and also do burgers, pizza and pasta - that sort of thing - and lots of really good coffee.

"In the summer, it's still really, really busy at the beach. It has amazing parking and good access for disabled people. It's a lovely beach. there are not as many businesses down here as there used to be, but they can still get good coffee and food so they all come back."

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Though Aberavon seafront is no longer what it was in the 1950s and 1960s, there have been efforts by the local council to improve the area.

Since 2001, the council has been undertaking a regeneration of the seafront project. More than £22 million has been spent on enhancing the seafront and upgrading public facilities.

So far, investment has resulted in the opening of a number of attractions, including the skate park in 2015 and adventure golf course in 2016, as well as parks, renovation of restaurants and improved parking.

The seafront itself has also undergone multi-million major sea defence work so families and visitors, can enjoy the seafront and its promenade for generations to come.

But it is the memories of generations past that shed light on Aberavon's true glory years