Here is the history of Grangetown's churches and schools - those still standing and those now gone. Please email us with any stories, memories or photos. Return to Part One or Part Two

Thanks to the Grangetown Local History Society for their help.

The imposing St Paul's Church in Paget Street was conscecrated by the Bishop of Llandaff in 1890 - but it was a long journey getting there. It was built on an acre of land given five years earlier by Lord Windsor, who also donated £4,000 to build the church's 75ft-long knave. The building was aimed at accommodating a congretation of 600. The congegration initially came under the parish of St John's in Canton and first met in Vanstone's Loft, over a stable in North Street. When the Grangetown National School (renamed St Paul's Church-in-Wales Primary in 1963) opened in Bromsgrove Street in 1864, the Sunday services moved there. In 1879, Lady Mary Windsor Clive had given £500 for the building of the Iron Mission Church, known as "The Iron Room". It was here that a service was held in March 1889, ahead of the laying of a foundation stone by Lord Windsor. Around 200 then sat down to lunch at the school. As for the school, "the Nash" moved to a new building in June 1974 and the old National School building in Clive Street was demolished.

"The Iron Room" was once a church, then it became a hall for St Paul's before finally being demolished to make way for the Grange Albion club, now standing on the corner of Paget Street and Bromsgrove Street.

The corrugated iron-clad Iron Room had first stood in Earl Street as the St Mark's Mission Church before moving to the corner of Paget St and Bromsgrove Street.

The "great flood" of October 1883 was recalled 18 years later by a young bell-ringer of the time in the old Iron Room church, who described the emergency after the River Taff burst its banks during a very high tide.

"We were assembled in church - a packed congregation - for the annual harvest thanksgiving service. Presently we heard a commotion at the doors. A wild-eyed man had come to seek his daughter, for he verily believed that the whole populace of the Grange were in danger of their lives. Before anything could be done the water came percolating through the cracks in the flooring. Many sped from the building into the streets, where the water was rushing hither and thither and rising higher and higher as the tide rose.

"In the church a somewhat similar scene was being enacted. Nearly all of us by this time were standing upon the seats, instead of sitting on them, and presently as the terrible water rose inch by inch, women began to faint here and there. I remember that one beautiful young girl in the choir, whose memory will always be stamped in my mind as a maiden of wondrous eyes, shrieked 'It is the end of the world; I know it is, only you won't tell me.'

"Another chorister reminded her of the prophecy that when the Supreme Being next destroyed the world it would be by fire. but this failed to pacify her, and a prolonged swoon followed. I myself and other youngsters amused ourselves by catching shrimps and minnows - a strange pastime in church. Meanwhile, the hymn For Those In Peril On The Sea was given out, and considering that by this time most of the adults in that congregation thought that they themselves were in dire peril, for the water was still rising steadily, they sang those thrilling words with a calmness that spoke of brave and trusting hearts within.

"Happily, when the water reached the seats it had also reached its level, and from that moment began to recede. But for hours there were feet of water in the streets, and the worshippers had to be conveyed to their homes in boats. The people of Grangetown suffered much loss through damage to their household goods, but were partly compensated from a fund to which philanthropic folk in other parts of the town contributed."

The early congregations were served by a succession of curates from Canton, but four years after the church was consecrated in 1890, the Grangetown parish was formed and Rev Dr Frank Hill became its first vicar, at the age of 32. He was Manchester-born, educated in Canterbury and Cambridge and before his move to Cardiff had worked in the East End of London and his experience there informed his work with the working class community of Grangetown.

He oversaw the building of the chancel in 1901/2 and church activities included gymmnastics and a soccer team.

The vicar, said to be diligent and popular with his parishoners, encouraged photography and also in aid of church building funds, curated an exhibition at the school in 1902 in order to bring works of art and culture to the working classes, as its spread "tends to make life noble and beautiful".

Rev Hill married the daughter of a Grangetown builder, Betsy Love, a music teacher, and the couple lived with her family in Clive Street. They eventually moved to a parish in Ebbw Vale; the couple were in their late 60s when they died a day apart in 1931.

After St Paul's opened, the Iron Room became the church hall, known for dances, whist and Sunday school. But by 1968, £10,000 was spent building a new parish hall next to the church. The Echo reported in that October: "Slowly the Iron Room has lost its bloom. One summer a few years ago, a bus hit it and that did not help much. So now its day, as far as St Paul's is concerned, is done." Jackie Rule in 2009 recalled in the Grangetown History Society's Old Grangetown Shops and Memories of her family's shop, Rogers, nearby: "I recall photographs of the shop and my grandparents appeared twice in the South Wales Echo when double-decker buses No. 7a crashed into the Iron Room. After treating a young motorcyclist for minor injuries after one of the collisions, grandad was quoted as saying 'Now we're a first aid post as well.'"

St Samson's church dates from 1923. The first vicar was Father John G Garland, with a dedication ceremony taking place on 8th November, presided over by the Bishop of Llandaff. The initial building - with the foundation stone laid by Lord Tredegar - cost £5,000, with a debt of £1,000 left, reduced later to £700. The church opened a few months before Grangetown became its own parish - apart from Canton. Rev Garland moved to St Mary's, Butetown in 1929, to be succeeded by Rev W Lewis Harris.

In late 1896, St Barnabas' Mission Church in Saltmead was built, as a mission church - satellite - of St Paul's. The total cost was £450, helped by donations from local councillors Samuel Brain and Arthur Lewis, and it was built to hold between 250 and 300 people. It opened in the November by the Bishop of Llandaff. The hall was built by Oliver Purnell and designed by Mr J. Coats Carter, Penarth. The clergy and choir robed in the Court Road Mission-house, and "proceeded in processional order to the new edifice" from St Paul's and there was large crowd "not withstanding the severity of the weather."

The church was in Maitland Place, where a flats development now stands. The small Church-in-Wales church was a small hall. It appears the church was still in use until about 1960. If anyone has any memories of the church, please let us know.

St Patrick's RC School opened in north Grangetown in 1873, (with the chapel opening in 1882), to serve an estimated 500 Grangetown catholics and 100 pupils. Classes had been held from the 1860s in a small cottage in Havelock Place, followed by "The Brickyard School", opened by a pioneer of Catholic education in the town, Father Fortunatus Signini. He had arrived in Cardiff in 1854, moving to St Peter's in Roath with the ambition of spreading Catholic schools across the town. The centenary history of the school, with extracts from its log books - reflects the period in Grangetown. Residents in nearby Thomas Street, still semi-rural, hung out their washing "on the hedges and bushes," and children had to cross ditches and streams to reach school. Ilnesses like scarlet fever and measles could take their toll - three pupils died of the former in one month in 1876. These were the days before free schooling although the inspector's reports were good.

An extract from the log from 1884 gives a flavour of the time: "It is impossible to get the children to school. The mothers complain of the roads and the bad is painful to see some poor little infants with bad boots trudging through the mud. Even those who are well shod get wet feet. Another reason for the poor attendance is that the illness that is always prevalent in damp weather. Many are suffering from bad coughs, bronchitis, sore eyes, earache and sore throats. The absentees are chiefly the younger children, who as a rule, leave school in the winter months."

There were other distractions too. The school head noticed in 1874 that attendances fell off from April until October, as some pupils took up work at the brick works next door. Helping to supplement the family's income could be a necessity.

This photo is of St Patrick's School in 1926 and was donated by Helen Stradling nee Alexander of Abercynon Street.

As for St Patrick's RC Church, before the permanent building was opened, mass was celebrated in people's homes and even at the Irish pub, the London Style Inn in Lucknow Street. The first church building was opened in 1884 next to the school on St Patrick's Day. The Bishop of Newport celebrated a high mass, with various clergy officiating. The building, seating up to 500 people, cost £1,200 to build - it was 70ft by 28ft, in the Early English style by architect John J Hurley and builders Richardson and Trick. The chancel and baptistry was omitted due to lack of funds. The choir gallery had underneath the infants school, with two large classrooms, separated from the church by shutters. A second site was eventually found at Grange Gardens which eventually led to the current church opening on St Patrick's Day in 1930. St Patrick's Memorial Hall, close to the school, opened in 1921, in memory of the parish's World War One casualties. It was designed by Philip Lampiere, with room for 700 people seated and contained a billiard room. There was also memorial stained glass (D'Alton and William) to the WW1 fallen. The building was demolished in the early 2010s and a doctor's surgery now stands on the site.

The Ebenezer and (right) the Salvation Army hall, which is nearby in Corporation Road.

The Ebenezer chapel in Corporation Road was built at the end of the 19th Century at a cost of £1,250 - and opened on October 5th 1899.

It's hard to imagine now, as it stands in the middle of a long Victorian terrace, but it stood alone to begin with and there was some questioning that it was too isolated to attract a congregation. The steps leading up to the front door also give a hint that high tide once came within 20ft.

The chapel's origins stretch back to the 1830s when a preacher called John Ashley took to a mission boat along the Bristol Channel to provide services for seamen. The HMS Thisbe was eventully moored in the west dock and eventually a two-room meeting room - the Seamen's Bethel was rented in Eleanor Place in the docks. It suffered in the summer months as it was over a stables. Then a second meeting room was rented in a former shop in Harrowby Street.

The congregation outgrew these rooms and with the construction of the Clarence Street bridge - replacing the need of a ferry to Grangetown - the possibility of a larger premises over the river was taken up.

Work began in 1896 with the church having enough room for 500 people. The ambitious plans were adapted early on to accommodate a basement.

When it first opened, there were 61 people in the congregation, although attendances soon rose as new homes were built around it. As many as 500 children would also attend Sunday school under superintendent Alfred Desallioud, a local plumber.

Some of the chapel founders included boatman Ralph Roderick (above left), Peter Evans and John Dalling (right), who set up a daily soup kitchen in the basement during the depression of the 1920s and 30s to help those in need during economic hardship. Another was Edwin Patterson, a butcher in James Street, whose four sons served in World War One; Fred Patterson was killed at Ypres in 1917.

The church would be used as a shelter on the worst night of the World War Two blitz and the basement as temporary accommodation afterwards for 100 people.

A wedding at the Grangetown Baptist Church, filmed by R T Pill in 1937 - see the tradition of "out with the rusty iron," enjoyed by local children, who were thrown money by the wedding party and scrambled to pick it up!

Grangetown Baptist Church originates from 1865 - and moved to its current site in Clive Street 10 years later. The English language church began life as one of half a dozen satellite churches to the Tredegarville Church in Roath with a Sunday School and preaching services above Morley’s Stables on the corner of Earl Street. However, as the area grew and numbers swelled, the church had to find larger premises. An iron church, costing £400 to build, opened on 8th December 1875. Five years later, the Grangetown church with its 70 members became independent. Further growth in numbers, as Grangetown developed saw a new church building open next door in 1887. But there was need to further expand, especially given the success of its Sunday school - accommodated in the old iron church. It was the largest in Cardiff, with up to 1,300 pupils - set against 250 church members - so the school building had to be larger than the chapel! The new church opened in January 1902 on the site of the iron church, with the school moving to the converted chapel next door.

The Evening Express in 1901 gave a potted history of the church, saying it was formed when there were only two or three streets in Upper Grangetown and no houses at all along Penarth Road. It credits William Morgan as one of the founders, who died in 1869. The first pastor was Mr Price Jones, who "laboured with considerable patience and success in nursing the little flock" until he resigned in March 1878.

It was looking forward to the building of the current church. "The present chapel will in future be known as the schoolroom- was built in 1887, at a cost of £ 1,160. In 1895, an end gallery and organ were erected and the chapel renovated at a cost of £268."

The "formation service" was held on February 2nd 1881, conducted by the Rev A. Tilly, the pastor of Tredegarville Church "who still takes a lively interest in the chapel at Grange". At the turn of the century, there were four surviving of the 70 original members: Mrs Maddocks and Messrs J Coward, Charles Brown, and John Marsh (of Lavernock). "Absolute necessity has compelled the members and Sunday School teachers of the Grangetown Baptist Church to formulate what has been called 'the new building scheme,'for the attendance at the Sunday School reaches the enormous total of over 650. The structure, up until recently used as the schoolroom was the old corrugated iron chapel, erected 26 years ago, and which had become very dilapidated. The space occupied by the iron building was found to be totally inadequate to provide the necessary accommodation for so large a school, and after due consideration the church resolved to convcrt the existing chapel into a schoolroom, and to build a chapel on the space occupied by the iron building until its demolition a few weeks ago."

The newspaper notes that the district "being a very poor one," the church proceeded cautiously with the project to avoid debt and aimed to raise £500 within three years from 1897. Despite the coal strike, they managed to exceed their target and set about raising another £200. A further target of £300 was then set meaning the Church raised £1,000 towards the £2,500 cost.

One of the leading chapel men, a deacon and superintendent of the Sunday School was James E Turner, the head of the local building firm, who the pastor, Rev John Williams (pictured above) told the Express was"one of the most sincere Christians I have ever met." Chapel membership at this point was 135 ("well up to the average") and the Sunday School roll 650. Other officers of the church in 1901 were deacons Henry Brown, Stephen Brown, James Coward (also secretary), W. E. Ward (also treasurer), Thomas Davies, Robert Blundell, William Good and W. H. Clarke (also the organist); the choir master was James Pasley.

Pastors in the early years included Rev J Berryman (1880-1888), Mr Price Jones returned for 18 months from 1890 before stepping down due to ill health. Then Rev John Williams (b Llanelli, 1855) who started preaching at 21 - initially as a young man only in Welsh - and came to Cardiff in about 1893. The Express reported that "he feels with regard to Cardiff that it is one of the hardest spheres in which he has laboured. The indifference of the people is very depressing at times, but when visiting their homes he has always received the utmost kindness and respect. It was good to hear Mr. Williams say that he had found it very easy to co-operate with the ministers of other denominations, including the Church of England and the Romau Catholics."

North Clive Street Gospel Hall

Now converted into flats, North Clive Street Gospel Hall opened as a satellite of the former Windsor Hall in Holmesdale Street in 1886.

It began as a Sunday school and hall for gospel meetings but started holding its first services in 1924.

When it first started, its classrooms shared the ground floor with a private home but eventually it took over the whole building.

Windsor Hall itself - at No 12 Holmesdale Street - had grown out of meetings which were first started in Thorney's Loft in Earl Street by schoolmaster James Buck. He moved there after Soloman Andrews built Windsor Hall and the congregation included local pilots and boatmen. Another noted character to be baptised there was George Brimmell "the giant of Hewelll Street," who it was reported "the men of Grangetown dreaded to he was a massive man, but met by God, the Lion became a Lamb."

He was baptised by superintendent George Elliott - "a very jolly and bright character", who moved there from Penarth in 1894.

The first Sunday school superintendent in North Clive Street was Henry Heaven, a builder from Redlaver Street, helped by several teachers. Sundays would start with a Eucharist at Windsor Hall, Sunday school at the Gospel Hall at 2.30pm and then later groups of young men would venture out to call people to meetings at the hall. Friday evenings would be spent with members going onto the streets of Saltmead "to speak for 10 minutes or quote a text."

Alfred William Fish, who had a long association with the Gospel Hall until his death, aged 82.

Soup kitchens were opened up in 1894 to provide suppers for poor people in distress. Acting as cook, Barney Tremeer would work with bullock's heads, other meat, bags of split peas, vegetables and hundres of loaves of bread. "The hall would be packed every night with people, mainly women, but a great number of them were Irishmen and women," one elder Alfred Fish recalled in the the 1950s. "They would listen to the Gospel, have a basinful of soup and bread and after the meeting come back and have a jug of soup to take home."

By 1912, there were 315 children in the school, including 25 infants.

In its early days the hall had a stove in the centre for heating and a large square lamp over the doorway with texts etched into the glass. An organ was added to accompany the singers and by 1927, the Gospel Hall had two classrooms, a platform, baptistry and was fully heated and with electric lights.

The Windsor Hall was bombed damaged during the 1941 Blitz and became unsafe, with the remainder of its congregation moving to North Clive Street or the Ebenezer in Corporation Road.

Alfred Fish, a shipping clerk from Merches Gardens, was another superintendent of the Sunday school before his retirement in 1932 and who left his memoirs of the hall just before his death in 1953.

The Hall closed in about 2007 and was later converted into flats.

Court Road School was another Victorian school, which was opened on 19 August 1893 by the mayor, W E Vaughan, after considerable delay due to a building strike. The new board school was much needed in the growing area of Saltmead and Mr Vaughan commented at the opening ceremony in one of the classrooms that every child should be educated, whether their parents could afford to pay or not. The school catered for 380 girls on the ground floor - with class sizes of 70 and 60! The 380 boys were taught upstairs. There was also an infants school block looking towards the railway, with room for another 468 infant pupils - including one classroom with desks for 108. The main entrance was off Rutland Street. A report on its opening in the Western Mail commented on its design, allowing light and ventilation, and fittings which gave "an appearence of warmth and cheerfulness." It was built by the prominent local builders E Turner for a cost of £11,703 and designed by architects Jones, Richards and Budgen, although Mr Jones did not live to see the opening. It was later renamed Courtmead Primary School, eventually closing in 1969 and demolished a year later. New housing was built on part of the site in Rutland Street and a new community garden opened in 2006 after part of the site was left as wasteground for 35 years.

The Evening Express noted that the school was "architecturally, one of the finest in the town, and will supply a need that has long been felt educationally, the district in which it is located, though one of the most growing and populous, having hitherto been inadequately served by the school board. The school has been carried out in a very substantial style, and has a light and roomy appearance."

Pictured above left is Grangetown Council School in 1904-1905 and the boy's rugby team.

The photo on the right is the school baseball team, who won the Tom Williams Cup, and football team, who won the title in 1923/25.

Grangetown Council School was founded in Bromsgrove Street in 1884, with spaces for 1,044 pupils. It was one of five new schools opening across town to accommodate the growing population. The school board speculated in 1884 that there were 18,400 children of a school age in the town, but 2,284 were "at large without any education at all." Photos: Grangetown History Society/Grangetown Primary School.

Ninian Park School opened in 1900 as Virgil Street Board School, before being renamed after the late Ninian Crichton Stuart, the local MP who was killed in World War One. During the war, it became a hospital for servicemen. During this time, pupils travelled to Court Road School for lessons in the morning, while the host school's children had their classes in the afternoon. More than 30 servicemen died at the school "hospital" and a plaque remembers them at the school. The school was damaged during the air raid in January 1941. In 1948, for 20 years, the school was a secondary school until the new Fitzalan School opened and it reverted to being a primary. In 1949 the first Welsh medium class opened in Glamorgan county within the school. The school celebrated its centenary in 2000 with a Victorian fayre and exhibition. There's an excellent history and photos on the school's website

© Grangetown Community Action/Grangetown History Society and webmaster 2019