"A diverse and compelling online resource that makes the city’s rich history accessible to everyone" - Who Do You Think You Are? magazine

"For a wonderfully comprehensive chronicle of Grangetown history since those drunken monks turned up..." - Dan O'Neill - South Wales Echo

Grangetown Local History Society holds monthly meetings at Glamorgan Archives, Clos Parc Morgannwg, Leckwith, Cardiff, CF11 8AW, with the next scheduled for Friday 7th June 2024 (1pm-4pm, including a talk on the Living Wells of Wales by Phil Cope, at 2pm, at Glamorgan Archives). We are also organising an evening programme of talks, which are being held monthly on Thursdays. The next event is the story of the Blitz in Grangetown, Thursday 20th June (6.30pm, Grange Pavilion).

There is a carpark, there is also parking at the nearby Cardiff retail park close to Cardiff City FC. The No 1 city circle bus has a stop close to the Archive opposite the Cardiff Bus garage, with the bus running down Grange Gardens (13.30 and 14.00, eight minutes) via Corporation Road, Clare Road and Cornwall Street. The No 2 City Circle returns by the same route (15.23 and 15.59 outside the bus garage). Lifts from centre of Grangetown can be arranged via the chair and secretary.

We are a group of people interested in local history, many Grangetown born and bred, but others who have come to live in the area. We also welcome visitors, including people from overseas on a visit back to their roots! Email: grcarinfo@yahoo.co.uk

"A wonderful online resource that the society is building up: a series of outstandingly good and carefully researched articles on the history of the area" - Who Do You Think You Are magazine?

"For a wonderfully comprehensive chronicle of Grangetown history since those drunken monks turned up..." - Dan O'Neill - South Wales Echo

Click on the images in the map above for an online history of Grangetown

Click here for older Grangetown Local History Society news and photos

Pavilion talks programme

Grangetown Local History Society has launched a series of talks on regular topics of local historical interest.

They build on 28 years of research and the large archive of material that has been collected and so far the meetings have been very well attended and have attracted a wide range of local people, with subjects ranging from Grange Gardens, the Industrial Schools to Grangetown and the great floods.

They will all be held on Thursday evenings at 6.30pm in Grange Pavilion (unless otherwise advertised). The first talks for 2024 are arranged as follows:

Peter Ranson RIP

A long-standing member of Grangetown Local History Society, Peter Ranson, has died at the age of 89.

Peter (left) pictured with the late Chris Lomax, being presented with his community award.

A founder member, Peter succeeded Betty Cassells as treasurer and was also responsible for the filing of our many archive photographs. He never missed the Merchant Seamen's remembrance service at Cardiff Bay where he always placed a wreath on behalf of the society, and also the service at Grange Gardens where he read out the prayer at the end of the silence. These latter duties meant a great deal to Peter.

His support of all the society's activities was immense such as helping with exhibitions, at the Grange Carnival, organising and distributing our calendars and joining us on our trips.

He spent many hours on Saturdays at Grangetown Library sorting out our filing and being available to anyone who cared to call in with a query.

Peter was a willing deliverer of the Grange News, well into old age, and was recipient of the Joan Gallagher award in 2012 for his service within the community. Even latterly when his health was not too good he always made a magnificent effort to attend the Remembrance Service in Grange Gardens, which was done with the help of his wonderful family.

Peter was son of George - a plumber and electrician - and Doris Ranson and grew up during the war in Avondale Gardens. His mother was an ARP warden while his maternal grandfather Joshua Bann was a well-known local butcher on the corner of Kent Street.

In his private life, Peter was a well-loved and cherished Uncle, Brother, and Great Uncle to his extended family – always willing to baby-sit children or the dog. One of his greatest pleasures was to walk the Brecon Beacons and he took some beautiful photographs up there. His quiet demeanour hid a man of steel. We always appreciated his views and advice over the years. His devotion to all things Grangetown was immense and we shall miss his presence.

Alan Collier RIP

The society was sad to learn of the death of Alan Collier, a member for many years and former treasurer.

Alan became a member of the Grangetown Local History Society in 2012 and was a staunch supporter of all the activities of the group. He was a quiet, friendly man, very reliable and a wonderful support in later years of his mother. When we needed a new treasurer, Alan agreed to fill the slot despite his many business commitments and the care of his mother; we all appreciated this.

Unfortunately, of late his own battle with health issues means that we did not see much of him but he was always in our thoughts. We pay tribute to him as a kind and caring human being and thank him for the gift of friendship he gave to us all. We shall miss him.

Grange Farm will be the subject of a future talk. Dates and topics to be confirmed.

The life of Victorian builder Samuel Mildon

There was a chance to view the archive relating to the life of Victorian builder and councillor Samuel Mildon at the meeting of Grangetown Local History Society in August.

Items of family history relating to Mildon were donated to the society a few years ago by descendants, and are now part of our collection at Glamorgan Archives.

Born in St Fagan's, the son of a miller, Samuel Mildon became an apprentice builder in Cardif before eventually setting up his own business.

He was first elected as a Liberal in the Canton ward in 1886. Despite one defeat in 1892 he bounced back to regain his seat in Grangetown in 1895. He held it until retiring in 1907. The family discovered the reason why Samuel did not become mayor of Cardiff. He had been offered the post in 1899 but was forced to decline because he had typhoid fever.

There's an interesting snippet in the South Wales Evening Express, when he stood - and was re-elected - as a Liberal councillor for Grangetown in 1898: "Mr Mildon sitting in a chair in the sunshine in front of the schools, and wearing the reddest of chrysanthemums, and the serenest of smiles. He seems to be confident as to the result."

Mildon may not have been able to serve as Lord Mayor but he was made an alderman and with Samuel Brain, his Conservative rival, they put aside political differences to be the prime movers for establishing Grange Gardens in 1895, thanks to land donations from the Bute and Plymouth estates. Mildon was described as an "all round man, throughly acquainted with every department of municipal activity."

A 1905 article in a Grangetown Baptist Chapel magazine mentioned his "patience, tact and ability" with 45 years experience as a Sunday school teacher. He was a member of the Welsh Calvinist Methodist chapel in Pembroke Terrace. Mildon was also a prominent member in the town's Welsh-speaking community and chairman of the workhouse building committee.

He died at his home at 26 Paget Street in February 1909, aged 66 after being ill for some months. Fellow councillors said in tribute that he was held "in very great esteem, more indeed than the ex-alderman himself sometimes supposed." He left 17 properties in Clive Street and Paget Street in his will to his widow and eight children, and an estate worth £6,445.

Notes and queries: Can you help?

If you have any queries about Grangetown history or local family history, email us and we will do our best to try to help, as time allows. We can also post your queries here, in case anyone out there can help.

email grcarinfo@yahoo.co.uk

A history of Grangetown History Society - and archive catalogue online

Click on the photo above or on the link below to go a short history of Grangetown Local History Society

It was 27 years ago that Grangetown Local History Society was formed, aimed at celebrating, recording and preserving the history of this part of Cardiff for future generations.

It's open to everyone - there are those born and bred in Grangetown, others who have moved to the area, or just people who like finding out about local and social history.

Founder member Rita Spinola gave a comprehensive résumé of the foundation of the Society, led by Eileen Breslin together with Ray Shaw and Ian Clarke, at April's meeting.

She brought along a fascinating group of documents showing the work that was being done at that time. She also described projects and campaigns such as the reinstatement of the Grange Gardens bandstand and drinking fountain, the naming of Grangemoor Park and equipping it with artwork.

The group had been the first to walk across the Cardiff Bay Barrage.

You can read about the history of the society here - and some of its activities and publications over the years.

Meanwhile, if you're interesting in researching some of the archive material, which has been donated and saved over the years, it is kept at Glamorgan Archives, where the society also holds its monthly meetings.

The catalogue is available to view online - and you can visit the Archive during its normal opening hours to access materials. To view the catalogue, click on the word 'Fonds' in the Level box, you'll be taken to a full list.

Society notes: April 2022 meeting

Research projects for this year: Zena had suggested at the previous meeting that a project researching famous or notable Grangetown people be undertaken. The idea was adopted, and a list of possible candidates was drawn up. Volunteers came forward to provide write-ups of the history and careers of the people on the list. The intention is to collate these into a new fact sheet.

The Society’s ‘Legacy Tree’: The Coed Caerdydd project aims to increase the tree cover in the city by around 30% by planting more trees, including in Grange Gardens. The organisers have been contacted and asked to bear in mind that the Society would like to donate a special tree for the Gardens. A suggestion was made that it be named in honour of Eileen Breslin, the first chair of the society.

Dropbox: A "live" demonstration of some of the contents of our digital archive was made. This is to be a regular feature of meetings so that those who do not have access to this facility can see what it contains.

Cardiff Market history research project: It was asked whether there had been any further correspondence about our participation in this project. To date the organisers had not made further contact.

War memorial centenary marked - and WW2 names added online

The centenary of the unveiling of the Grangetown war memorial has been marked with a ceremony.

Wednesday 7th July marked 100 years to the day that the Portland stone and bronze work was unveiled, remembering the names of more than 330 men who died in World War One.

The ceremony then was attended by hundreds of relatives, local residents and dignatories and also coincided with the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Mametz Wood in the Somme, in which thousands of Welsh soldiers were killed.

Grangetown Local History Society - which was involved in researching the names of the hundreds of local men who died - organised a short ceremonial event at the monument in Grange Gardens.

A pamphlet has also been produced telling the story of the memorial and there will be a display telling the story of Grangetown and World War One in Grange Pavilion afterwards.

In addition, another major piece of research work is being unveiled - the details of more than 230 local men, women and children who died in World War Two. Their names are available on an online memorial, which covers casualties from the Army, Navy, Merchant Navy and RAF, as well as local people who died in The Blitz.

A simple plaque remembers those who died in World War Two but there was no room for any names on the 1921 memorial. The online WW2 memorial, accompanies the existing and updated online WW1 memorial - which was launched at the start of the Society's four year Grangetown at War project in 2014.

The new WW2 online memorial can be found here and the full Grangetown War project website can be found here

Artists commemorate Blitz in Grangetown online

Three artists and a group of young Grangetown people marked the 80th anniversary of the Cardiff Blitz online with the The Night-time Blitz Experience.

Bomb damage on the corner of Clive Street - corner of Ferry Road

The project, backed by Heritage Lottery funding, explored the impact of the Blitz on Grangetown, a neighbourhood particularly hit by the World War Two bombing.

Due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the work was being shared online on the anniversary of the worst night of the Blitz - including a "real time" feed of events on the evening and in the hours leading up to it.

You can still catch-up on the work onthe Blitz Experience webpage Also follow @BlitzCardiff on Twitter

Eighty years ago, on Thursday 2nd January 1940 at just after 6.30pm the Blitz hit Grangetown. These were dramatic and life-changing events for many people – 165 people across Cardiff were killed and 6,000 made homeless in one night.

Artists Alec Stevens, Jason and Becky, Secondson and a group of 11 local young people worked through a research-based process, supported by material provided by Grangetown Local History Society and the Glamorgan Archives, to make work that responds to some of the people and places affected by the Bliz in Grangetown.

The Night-time Blitz Experience was due to be a live in-situ event at the Grangetown sites that were bombed 80 years prior, it was outside and social distancing measures had been put in place, however due to covid regulations we are now migrating online.

A book Cardiff and the Blitz, written by Steve Duffy, will be published in 2022, which will tell the story of nearly three years of bombing, with accounts and personal memories, many not shared before. Some of the this research was used as material for the artists to work from.

The artists involved:

Jason and Becky: Swansea-based collaborative artists who work in audio-visuals and installations, as well as engaging with local people, and who presented their live performance on a stream. As The Sky Darkens was inspired by the impact of the Blitz on Clydach Street, including a boy who traded comics with a young neighbour and victim of the boming.

Alec Stevens: A Bristol-based fine artist and sculptor who telks the story of Hollyman's bakery, involving the stories of different individuals around the tragedy, which left some of the victims unidentified. There was a Zine which can be downloaded at the website. Copies were also given away to local residents at the site of the bakery, along with barra brith. There is also a short video 22 Unknown inspired by the unidentified victims of the tragedy.

Secondson playing the halldorophone at the Temple of Peace. Photo: Tessa Salt.

Secondson - Leon West: A Butetown-based musician, DJ and record producer - who created a soundscape, using recorded and archive memories from Grangetown Local History Society and his own interviews. He colloborated with a visual artist for Bomber's Moon, exploring the story leading up to the bombing.

Secondson also plays the unique halldorophone - like an electronic type of cello, which provides a tone in the background, similar to the hum of aircraft overhead.

"My performance will focus on the tension and anxiety the community would have felt in the days and hours in the lead up to the blitz, I will use the halldorophone as a tool to amplify and manipulate the sounds, the instrument itself will resonate and respond to the audio that will be controlling it, creating a unique, one-o? performance."

He added: "The Grangetown community plays a large part in my day to day, a place very familiar and relevant to me and my work, with my studio is a mere stones throw across the Clarence Road bridge in Butetown. I am most grateful to be involved in this commemorative event with Art Shell and Grangetown Local Historical Society.”

A group of young people, aged 16 to 25, was set up to work with artists on the project to produce a creative interpretation of the story of the Blitz at Ferry Road. There is a video of their artwork and projection based on the story of people who lived and survived, side by side.

You can read more on the Artshell website. Despite the huge logistical challenges, we'd like to thank all the artists for producing such thought-provoking work, which was followed by a large number on the evening.


There have been a number of books published about the history of Grangetown. Most are still in print, available online or on eBay and also some copies may be available by arrangement from Grangetown Local History Society.

Urban Development in the Victorian Era: A Case Study of Grangetown, Cardiff, 1100-1900 by Ray Noyes, 2020. Tracing the development and building of south Grangetown from early times and particularly detailed on its Vicotorian growth. Available from Wordcatcher Publishing, priced £15, and also on Amazon.

Island in the City by Ray Noyes (Wordcatcher, 2019, £15) A memoir of childhood growing up in Grangetown and the story of the suburb's growth. Available on Amazon

It Touched Every Street by Steve Duffy (Wordcatcher, 2018, £15) Stories of the soldiers, sailors, and civilians from Grangetown who served and died in World War One, based on research of the men on the war memorial in Grange Gardens. Available direct via the history society, via Wordcatcher Publishing and also via Amazon

Grangetown by Barbara Jones (Vol 1, Images of Wales series, Tempus, 1996) Mainly pictoral tracing the history of Grangetown in photographs. Available on eBay and Amazon

Grangetown The Second Collection by Ian Clarke (Vol 2, Images of Wales series, Tempus, 1999). Available on eBay and Amazon

Old Grangetown Memories Book Two was published in 2013 by Grangetown Local History Society. Copies are sometimes available on eBay and there are some available directly from the society, when arrangements allow. Old Grangetown Memories Book One was published in June 2011. There is also a book Old Grangetown Shops. Copies are also available at Cardiff and Grangetown libraries.

The Grangetown crew who died on Armistice Day

Armistice Day this year also marks the 80th anniversary of the deaths of four Grangetown seamen when their boat hit a mine in Swansea Bay.

The SS Skarv was a dredger but was believed to be carrying a cargo of sand when she was sunk off the south Wales coast, somewhere between Swansea Bay and the Bristol Channel. Five Cardiff crew members were killed including two brothers William and Charles Self, sons of a local grocer and fishmonger from Hewell Street.

William was 35 and left a widow and at least three children and lived near his parents in Hewell Street. He was a fireman on the dredger. Charles, 31, who had moved to Cathays, was married to Annie.

A wreath was laid by Grangetown history society at the merchant seaamen's memorial last weekend, in the absence of the usual Remembrance Day services

Master Raymond Cook, 43, a Gloucestershire-born mariner and father-of-five, lived in Newport Street with his second wife Lily - a Grangetown girl. He had been at sea since he was a boy and was the son of sea captain.

During World War One Raymond (pictured above) joined the Royal Naval Reserve and served on minesweepers. Another crew member who was killed in the tragedy on November 11th 1940 was Thomas Murt, 56, a Lancashire-born ship's engineer who lived at 155 Corporation Road with wife Lizzie. They had a 15-year-old daughter Elizabeth.

Lizzie's first husband William Hooper had died of Spanish Flu in a military hospital in France in World War One and is on the Grange Gardens memorial.

The other crew killed was mate William Brewer, 49, from Caerphilly Road, Whitchurch, who came from a Dorset maritime family.

Unexploded bomb tragedy story uncovered

The story of a war-time bomb explosion in a suburb north of Birmingham, which killed 13 people, has been uncovered, 80 years on, during research on a young soldier from Grangetown.

Seven men with a Royal Engineers bomb disposal unit were killed when three bombs exploded at the back of a house in Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham, on the afternoon Sunday 25th August 1940.

Five of them were from south Wales. Six local civilians also died when the delayed-action devices detonated.

Due to wartime censorship, few details of the event were published – with only a mention of the deaths of the seven Royal Engineers, but not what had happened or where.

The incident happened at the back of 117 Welwyndale Road in Sutton Coldfield – part of a number of recently-built houses, on the edge of the Birmingham district of Erdington.

The soldiers were digging down to the bombs when they heard a fizzing sound, which one water board official attributed to a burst main. But the bombs exploded.

Records indicate that a 45-strong unit, led by a Lt Campbell, had been sent to Birmingham a month before to deal with the aftermath of air raids. Problems included delayed action bombs, which were designed to explode up to 80 hours after landing.

There had been an air raid on Birmingham on the night of Saturday 24th and the Birmingham Mail reported on the Monday that there had been “delayed action bombs over a wide area.”

A pre-war map showing the area, while the new housing was being planned.

“During the morning several of them exploded but there were no casualties reported as, in every case, the police had taken stringent precautions and had cordoned off all these districts and evacuated the tenants of houses and premises in the immediate vicinity.”

But the paper went on: “The danger of these bombs, it is pointed out, is very great and exemplified by the fact that casualties were caused by one which exploded yesterday afternoon while efforts were being made to render it innocuous. Spectators had narrow escapes.”

On the 25th, the bomb disposal unit war diary reads: “Explosion of three bombs during removal killed seven other ranks, one died in hospital subsequently. Four were injured. All the casualties were from No 68 section.”

Who were the seven men who died?

William Fergusson, 19, from Penarth Rd, Grangetown, Cardiff was a driver. His elder brother Thomas would die three years later serving in Italy in a battle with the German Tenth Army.

Cpl Arthur Haines, 22, of System St, Adamsdown in the city - was the youngest child of the late Charles and May Haines; his parents had died by the mid 1920s and he lived with a family in Daisy Street, Canton, while going to Lansdowne Road School. Arthur, a carpenter with a shop fitting firm, had already volunteered with the Royal Engineers in the territorials in the spring of 1939 and was promoted to corporal at the start of the war.

William Henry Thorne, 27, of Dogfield Street, Cathays, Cardiff. He left a year-old son and a pregnant widow Winifred.

William Ward Davies, 20,was the second son of dairy farmer John William Davies and mother Agnes Hamilton Davies, of Kincoed Farm, Oakdale. He died in hospital the same day and was buried in a churchyard back at home.

Mervyn Tasse Andrews, 20, was the son of Frederick W. Andrews and Jane Andrews, of Clydach near Abergavenny. His father, 76, a retired quarryman had also served as a sapper in the Royal Engineers during World War One.

Norman Cryer, 37, of Barnoldswick, Lancs, left a widow, a son and three daughters, of Green End Road, Earby. He was a weaver before the war.

Arthur Rabinowitz, 21, also known as Knight, of 67 Wavertree Vale, Liverpool. His obituary said he was very popular in Livepool amateur dancing circles.

The civilians who died were: ARP warden Tom Hatton, 59. He lived at 86 Berwood Farm Road, having formerly lived in Aston and Arthur Road, Erdington. He was the husband of Providence Martha Hatton and father of seven children. His nephew was with him and also died. Albert Hemming, 24, was with the Home Guard.

Albert Montague Bird, 61, a shopkeeper from Southend-on-Sea, who seemed to have retired and moved to nearby 78 Berwood Farm Road, another new house, with his wife Julia.

Thomas Blake, 49, lived at 76 Welwyndale Road, Erdington. Husband of C. Blake.

Another Home Guard man was Leslie Arthur Maddox, 31, who was also a St John’s volunteer. He lived at 72 Berwood Farm Road and was a cash register mechanic. He left a widow Mary Elizabeth – they had been married nearly five years – and two young daughters. He was the son of Ada E. and George Maddox, of 27 Upper Thomas Street, Aston. His father, a firewatcher, would die in an air raid at this home on 30 July 1942.

The youngest civilian to die was John Squires, 19, a bank clerk and only son of John Walter James, bank manager, and Maud Mary Squires, of 843 Chester Road, Erdington.

Thanks to Ted Richards of Roath History Society. Details have been passed to Sutton Coldfield History Society, although they were unaware of the tragedy before.

Victorian Grangetown, prone to flooding

Here is the story of two high tides, which in Victorian times saw Grangetown very vulnerable to flooding with its then lack of defences.

The Ely burst its banks after continual rain one Thursday morning on July 15th 1875 causing "widespread devastation" in Canton and Upper Grangetown. The Cardiff Times reported it vividly and also underlined how semi-rural Grangetown still was at this time: "The Grange, principally occupied by working men and their families, is completely surrounded by water to the depths of at least four feet, the highway to Penarth at seven o'clock in the evening being only passable to vehicles and horsemen. On the right of the highway the large field extending northward to the Great Western Railway resembles an inland lake, varying in depth from 4-7ft, and the water is just beginning to overflow the roadway opposite to the Grange Hotel.

"The streets which seem to be in imminent danger of being undermined by the swiftly rising waters are Thomas and Rosemary Street. The houses appear to be toppling over. Most of the furniture has been removed from the upper rooms, but a number of sick persons could not be removed in the ordinary way. A number of young men volunteered to procure a boat from the adjoining river Taff, and had succeeded in getting it partly on the way when darkness set in.

"Another group of men were cutting through the bank at the bottom of a field on the left side of the roadway, in order to admit if the water flowing into the Taff, In this they were successful to a considerable extent. About 30 head of cattle were saved from the adjoining field just before the water rushed through the gap in tremendous volume. The cutting of this gap reduced a portion of the large body of water from John's brick yard adjoining, and prevented the overflow on the other side from sweeping down in Lower Grangetown. The Taff Vale Railway, carried cross country by a high tip or embankment, has by its massive proportions saved this suburb from being at once twept away. Ascending this embankment and looking westward, the whole country for miles on each side of the Ely is under water.

"Floating hay-stacks thickly dot the surface, as well as hay-cocks of smaller size. Looking again to the eastward, through the cross streets of the Upper Grange, all kinds of vehicles are in requisition, getting loaded from the upper windows of the houses facing the Great Western Railway, partly dragging them and partly swimming. Some were fortunlate in reaching the main road, others, coming in contact with submerged goods in turning the corners of the streets, threw their goods into the foaming and eddying torrents - drivers, men and horses.

Hairdresser Sam Thomas drew this sketch of flooding in Ludlow Street in October 1883.

The report continued: "Willing hands were not wanting to cut the traces of the horses, and help the men, who otherwise would have been carried away and drowned. Scores of men we saw carrying their little ones towards Cardiff, and two men we noticed had what appeared to be aged females in their strong arms, carefully wrapped up in coverlets and blankets.

"Our reporter, who visited Upper Grange at 11pm, says the left side of the main roadway to Penarth opposite this place is completely submerged to an equal extent with the meadow, lands and fields on the opposite side, the water having increased fully three feet. The only drain pipe, said to be nearly nine inches in diameter, the entrance being opposite the Grange Hotel, is choked up with hay swept into it from the adjoining field."

The Cardiff Times concluded that there was "great anxiety" for the safety of the tenements "at the rear of the village" towards the Great Western Railway, as the "full force of the enormous weight of water is swaying them inwards towards the remaining buildings. Some people are reported missing, bnt it is expected that when the bustle is over they will be found."

Then on the evening of October 17th 1883, another high tide - with gale-force winds - saw water burst through the sea dyke opposite Kent Street, reaching a height of between 4ft and 7ft at around 8pm. A man rushed into the harvest thanksgiving service in Ludlow Street shouting "the flood is coming," Sam Thomas recalled. The preacher reportedly urged calm, before promptly fainting!

Flood water almost reached the first floors of houses, while people were wading up to their waists. Livestock was lost, with the whole area said to resemble a lake. Newspaper reports from the time give a long list of shopkeepers in Holmesdale Street who sustained losses - from shoemakers to grocers, nine pubs were affected including the landlord of The Plymouth (in Clive Street) who claimed he was down £200 after water flooded his cellar. Mr Edwards the grocer in Oakley Street lost £100 worth of stock. A third of homes lost their back walls between the streets. Those living in Kent Street were said to have suffered the greatest loss in terms of "spoilt furniture."

Schoolmaster James Buck - a small man - was carried to his home through the torrent by a visiting preacher - and much taller man - at Windsor baptist hall in Holmesdale Street.

Alfred Fish, a teenager during the flood, said Grangetown people were "somewhat superstitious" and some had read Mother Shepton's Prophetic Papers, which foretold the end of the world in 1881. "I remember as a lad how terrified the people were as they looked at the sky - black and streaked with white patches..in the early evening the water burst through the tide bank and rushed down the streets."

"I was caught up in the flood, about 12 houses from my home," he recalled as an old man in the 1950s. "I was soon up to my waist in water but presently a tall, strong woman named Mrs Perrott rushed into the middle of the street, picked me up and carried me into her house, took off my wet clothes and put me to bed. She was a customer of my mother (Sarah), who kept the grocery shop on the corner of Sevenoaks Street."

The flood also hit the old Iron Room church, which was also holding its annual harvest festival service. "We were assembled in church - a packed congregation - for the annual harvest thanksgiving service," recalled a bell-ringer 20 years later. "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."

"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."

The Western Mail reported that some women and children from the harvest festival were rescued in a huge furniture van. But it reported that several police officers standing near to Grangetown police station were "exceedingly uncomfortable" and "pretending to be busy" when faced with the unfolding drama, despite being driven on by an exasperated sergeant.

The following day, bread and cheese was distributed to residents, who could not reach the shops. "Mud and filth had been carried in large quantities into every house." People waded through the receding water "some in fun, some in grim earnest," while the postman delivered his letters, with his trousers rolled up to his knees.

The waters had receded two days later when Lord and Lady Windsor visited to survey the damage. The Western Mail reported that in Butetown, women "screamed and fainted" and residents kept to their upper floors of homes on Windsor Esplanade. Chairs and tables floated down the street, as the strength of the floodwater broke locks and hinges, although it conceded that the greatest damage was "undoubtedly felt" in Grangetown, and the loss of property was "impossible" to estimate.

A few days later, Henry Marshall, a builder from Kent Street, wrote: "Having visited about 190 houses in Lower Grange, and the greatest portion of the houses in Upper Grange, I can bear testimony as to the disastrous results of the flood. The result is that the homes of the working men are to a great extent broken up, in most cases the best of the furniture being entirely spoiled. In many houses the piano or harmonium has gone to pieces, and in nearly every house the week's provisions and a large proportion of wearing apparel have been rendered useless, so that many families are left quite destitute, and are also suffering much from the cold and damp that follows such a flood, not having the means at their disposal to get coals etc, to dry their things and warm themselves."

Mr Marshall, along with local councillors, was one of those involved in raising awareness of the issues with town officials. Afterwards, damage was estimated at around £3,000 while £540 was collected in donations within a few days through public subscription, including from shipowners and other businessmen. There were also calls for the embankment and sea wall to be raised.

A system of clay banks or dykes (on the 1883 map above left) was not enough to solve the problem when either the River Taff or Ely rose to exceptional heights at high tide. It would be a century before the flood defences were adequate - while the building of the Cardiff Bay Barrage also helped reduce major incidents.

Young RAF hero whose luck ran out

Thomas Gosling was one of the early RAF losses, who went missing only days after an heroic return following his aircraft suffering serious damage during a mission over occupied Norway.

Thomas was just 23 when he died on 15th April 1940. He was the eldest son and one of seven children to fitter's labourer Thomas and Margaret Gosling, of 48 Wedmore Road, Grangetown.

Only days before Flight Sergeant Gosling returned from a reconnaisance mission over occupied Norway, which saw him return safely on one engine for 350 miles after his plane was shot at and badly damaged.

He was one of four young aircraftmen from 224 Squadron - often involved in anti-submarine missions from RAF Leuchars in Scotland - who went missing that day.

Grangetown School Scroll

Chairman Doug Knight has an "emulation ladder" scroll, which showed his mother Dorothy Richards's class at Grangetown National School in 1919/20. There is a list of the 47 girls in the class and how they ranked based on performance.

The names are: Ethel DAVIES; Gladys LINK; Lily GILLESPIE; Edith UMPLEBY; Lily ROACH; Emily HITCHINGS; Winnie SHAW; Lily BROWN; Lily OWENS; Kitty SMITH; Laura LONG; Laura NOWELL; Gladys NOAD;;Clara GREENWOOD; Elsie GILMORE ;Winnie WOODGATE ; Kitty LEWARNE; Nelly POPE; Maud STONE; Miriam BUSSELL; Jane or Janet? and Belinda? (left) and Hilda WHITE; Gladys BRUCE; Winnie BILSON; Lily DILLON; Beatrice WILLIAMS; Violet NEWBERRY; Susie WESTACOTT; Irene APPLEBY; Jessie KENDALL; Gladys THOMAS; Maggie PRITCHARD; Ivy PHELPS; Veta LEWIS; May JAMES; Gertrude HARRIS; Ivy PATTERSON; Doris COOPER; Ada CORNELIUS; Rose BRINKWORTH and Flossie GLOVER (right hand side)

End of an era as Grangetown Cons Club closes its doors

Grangetown Conservative Club has closed its doors - just short of its 125th anniversary.

Julie Biggs has been stewardess since 2012. Pictured with committee member Mario Felices and Terry Woodroff, treasurer and acting chairman.

The club has been in its current home in Corporation Road, close to Grange Gardens, for more than 110 years. Grangetown Local History Society heard of its imminent demise a few weeks ago, and went along to take a few photographs, as well as receiving some archive material.

The original "Grangetown Conservative Workingmens Club" was founded in May 1894, on the corner of Holmesdale Street and Ferry Road. Previously it had been the location for a local rope manufacturers.

The association had been set up in the year before - described as a "rallying call for Grangetown working men", with membership numbers rising in that time from 60 to 300. Subscription back in those first days was four pennies a year and the chairman was Sidney Herbert Nicholls, at the time living in Pentrebane Street.

A drawing of the original club - and William Baird, who was steward of the club with his wife Alice in the 1930s and 1940s.

A committee photo from 1936. Back row left to right: E Addicott, FD Bradford, JW Bryant, JH Robson, H Smale, JE Townsend, W Long, AJ Cusse and PE Jeans. Front row: W Roberts, FS Moore (treasurer), LW Mountjoy (secretary), H Sheppard (chairman), T Llewellyn (vice chairman) and J O'Brien.

By 1908, it had moved to Corporation Road - its present home. The old building back in Ferry Road was later converted into flats in the early 1930s and then bombed during the war.

Rugby photo preserved

A rare photo of a Grangetown rugby team winning a trophy nearly a century ago has been partially restored and placed in our archive.

The photo was bought from eBay but was in a poor state and disintegrating but has now been patched up and preserved by staff at Glamorgan Archive.

It shows Cardiff Gas Athletic RFC - the Grangetown gasworks team - who won the Mallett Cup in 1922-23. They beat Cardiff Welsh 11-5 at Cardiff Arms Park, after losing the final the previous year. The Cardiff and District rugby cup competition is the second oldest in the world and this is the only time the gasworks side won it.

It has special significance to one of our members, Keith Fruin, whose grandfather Arthur Fish - a war veteran and also ex-Cardiff City footballer - played in the game. Keith has his medal from that game but had never seen a photo before. Arthur, a carpenter who was a sporting all-rounder, also played baseball for the works side until in his 50s.

The team line-up: P Sullivan (trainer), J Snell, A Keay (vice capt), W Snell, W Silver, T Donovan, W Davies, HS Bartlett (Sec)
P Roach, A Giles, RP Jones, A Brockway (capt), A Fish, R Podd, TAL Richards
I Dunscombe, R Wyatt

Grangetown archive catalogued

Click on the image above to view the catalogue.

The documents and photos of old Grangetown collected by the history society over the years have finally been catalogued and properly archived.

The growing archive, made possible from donations and copies of originals, has been kept in filing cabinets by the society.

Thanks to the diligent work led by society member Brenda John, the bulk of the old files have been collated, sorted and properly archived and the Grangetown local history archive is now available to view online and also downloadable in Excel format

This version has already been updated - and will continue to be so as the archive and the project progresses. We hope to link to some of the images we are storing digitally in the future. It will be really useful for local people researching aspects of Grangetown or their family's history.

The catalogue has also been made available online by Glamorgan Archives - and you can visit the Archive during its normal opening hours to access materials. To view the catalogue, click on the word 'Fonds' in the Level box, you'll be taken to a full list.

Grangetown history fact sheets

Ray Noyes, society secretary, and Zena Mabbs have been involved in producing some fact sheets on aspects of Victorian Lower Grangetown. Another has now been added by Ray on the building of some of Grangetown's churches and chapels and Steve has contributed one on the history of The Grange pub to mark its re-opening and 160th anniversary, while Zena and Ray have put together the presentation on Penarth alabaster, which is a feature of so much local architecture.

These have been created to print off - and have been handed out at recent meetings - and now we're starting to put some of them up on the website here, for wider interest. Click on the images above to download the PDFs . The second fact sheet on street names has been reproduced instead as a webpage here, as it is too large a document to download.

Click here for archived Grangetown Local History Society news and more photos

The Society was founded in 1995 and has a committee; there is no membership fee and it is open to anyone who has an interest in local history, particularly, living, working or having been born or brought up in Grangetown. Email: grcarinfo@yahoo.co.uk Michelle Derby-Charles and Helen Stradling - email queries; secretary - Ray Noyes, chairman Terry Kane. The society cannot undertake family history research but please inquire as we may be able to help on an ad hoc basis. Websites: grangetownhistory.co.uk and grangetownwar.co.uk

Postal address for mail order or to send photographs (please include your details): Grangetown Local History Society c/o 28 Llanmaes Street, Grangetown, Cardiff CF11 7LQ

Displays: The society displays photos, slideshows and audio memories at local community events and fairs, including the annual Grangetown Festival in June. It has also taken part in local and family history fairs and exhibited at the local library.

Audio history: We are involved in an ongoing audio history project, collecting memories from Grangetown people of times and people in the past. If you would like to take part - home visits can be arranged - contact us below. We are particularly interested in hearing from people with connections to north Grangetown/Saltmead.

Archive: We are always collecting photos and memories to build up our growing archive of Grangetown history. We are currently starting to digitise our archive and files of photos, which is quite a long term task. We are always interested in hearing from people with old photos. Even some old family photos can sometimes reveal something about the local area or a particular time. We can arrange to scan and return photos, as well as take digital copies. Thanks to the diligent work of society member Brenda John, the old files of documents and photos have been collated, sorted and properly archived and the Grangetown local history archive is now available to view online

Grangetown and World War I and II: We created an online version of the Grangetown War Memorial, to mark the centenary of World War I. It involved researching the details of the men on the memorial - as well as other casualties with Grangetown connections who were not recorded. A separate website has been created - www.grangetownwar.co.uk and is being updated as the project progresses. A book It Touched Every Street based on our research and telling the stories of the men and women who died was published in 2018. See below for more details. Research is under way on a similar project to mark the 80th anniversary of World War Two and the Cardiff Blitz in 2020/21. A book will be published early in 2021.

Books: It Touched Every Street which tells the story of Grangetown's war memorial and the men and women who died in World War One was published in 2018. It is available for £ 14.99 from Wordcatcher Publishing, Amazon and via the society. A book Old Grangetown Memories Book Two was published in 2013. Copies are sometimes available on eBay. Old Grangetown Memories Book One was published in June 2011 and quickly sold out. There are two other books Old Grangetown Shops and Memories and Old Grangetown Memories Book Two which have also sold out but both should still available to borrow from the Central and Grangetown libraries. Due to changing fashions/costs, we no longer produce a calendar.

Visits: We undertake occasional visits - the most recent one was to Port Talbot transport museum. Others have included the Island Farm prisoner of war camp near Bridgend, Cardiff Museum, Glamorgan Archives, Margam Abbey, Risca Museum and the Cardiff Bay Barrage. Members have also joined in research projects involving the early history of Cardiff docklands and how it came about, with the Glamorgan Archive and Parlimentary archive.

There is already a good online history of Grangetown on the Grangetown community website, including its medieval origins, Victorian growth and wartime and post-war memories, as well as sport, business, schools and churches - click on the photo icons above for more. See also: grangetowncardiff.co.uk community website.

There are also two published illustrated books in the Images Of Wales series by Tempus publishing, Grangetown (compiled by Barbara Jones) and Grangetown The Second Collection (compiled by Ian Clarke). Copies can be found in the local library, bookshops and you should be able to find copies on eBay or order via Amazon. Society member Ray Noyes has published a book Victorian Grangetown which looks at the building of south Grangetown, including detailed examination of construction and plans for homes, industry and notable buildings. There is also a Tales Of Old Grangetown DVD, by Ian Malcolm, which is available in local bookshops and from the central library.

Cardiff Library members can now access Victorian newspapers online from home, including the Western Mail from 1869 to 1899. You need to log on to the Cardiff e-library with your membership number and password. You can also access Ancestry.co.uk through your library membership log-in. The local studies/archives have now been re-homed in the refurbished Cathays Library. (You can reach it best by taking No 8 or 9 buses heading for Heath). Grangetown Library in Havelock Place has a selection of Cardiff history books. You can also research local history online with the National Library of Wales' free Welsh newspapers online site, for pre-1910 daily and weekly papers, with an excellent search facility.

The Cardiff Museum at the Old Library building in The Hayes opened in 2011. There are quite a few Grangetown elements to it - including stories, objects, photos and a map which shows the changing nature of the area. The museum is very hands-on and interactive and well worth a visit. It houses regular local history exhibitions, amongs other shows. It's also trying to gather memories and photos for its ongoing Collecting Cardiff project.

There is also the Glamorgan Archives, now in purpose-built facilities near to us in Leckwith, close to the new Cardiff City stadium development. You can call in to use the large reading room and users can also register for a card (bring ID). The purpose-built development has temperature-controlled archive space for documents, parish and estate records, original plans for houses and other buildings in Cardiff, as well as local directories and maps. You can also access censuses up to 1901. There are lockers for personal belongings, bring pencils not pens.

Other useful links or interesting sites for local or family history include the Glamorgan Family History Society, which is useful for those both with family connections in the area or those with just an interest in history; Cardiff Heritage ancestry.co.uk (subscription required for most services); GENUKI Cardiff, abandoned communities has details of old Temperance Town and Newtown in Cardiff. There is also a wonderful history of Penarth Docks. There's also a good blog of Keith S Robertson's 1980s photos of mostly east of the city Cardiff Before Cardiff Meanwhile, the National Library of Wales has tithe maps in its Places of Wales website here

You might also be interested in the Jewish Heritage Trails - which explore Cardiff's Jewish history.

Other local history societies in Cardiff: Llanishen Rhiwbina Civic Society Roath Rumney and there is also Butetown History and Arts Centre.

© Grangetown Local History Society 2024. Updated May 29th

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