Grangetown Local History Society meets at the Grangetown Hyb (Library, Havelock Place) on the first Friday of month (2pm-4pm). All are welcome to come along, and bring photos and stories if you have them.

Doug Knight chairperson, Email:


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

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'Dusty' dies

John "Dusty" Miller - another Grangetown character - died on 26th June. His funeral was held in Penarth on July 11th. He left a wife and four children and was retired commanding officer of the Penarth Sea Cadets. Grangetown Local History Society recorded interviews with him and his memories of Grangetown were vast and vivid.

Some of his memories were used in one of our Grangetown books. It included the time during World War Two when he went to "collect" firewood made from crates being collected on The Marl by US servicemen. One soldier with a rifle spotted him and he darted into the grass. "A shot rang out - my brother went home and told my mother I'd been shot."

Uninjured, he fell to the ground and then walked back down to see Americans beating the grass and asking if he'd seen anyone hurt.

"'No, I've not seen anything,' I said. I went home and of course my mother asked me what I'd been doing. 'Only getting firewood,' I answered. 'You mean getting shot at,' she said. I said: 'They missed - lousy shots'"

Society notes: May 2019

Jewish history talk: May's meeting was taken up by an illustrated talk on the Images of the South Wales Jewish Community by Stanley Soffa of the Jewish History Association of South Wales. He presented a history of the Jewish community in Cardiff, as well as details of his own family's history, which originated in Russia and London. We also heard details of the Grangetown synagogue, which used to be on Merches Street.

Society notes: April 2019

There were 13 members present at Glamorgan Archives.

WW2 Project: So far, Steve has discovered more than 220 recorded casualties in Grangetown and a group from the society are now researching archive newspapers for more wartime stories and details. Steve has also interviewed an ex-RAF member of a bombing crew, who lives locally. Update on progress for the next meeting.

WW1 Project:The WW1 book has been selling well and Zena will be selling copies at the Barry Island Railway Station Book Festival on Easter Saturday. Steve has been asked by the organisers of the Voices of War and Peace Great War Legacy Project to give a presentation on our WW1 project in Ely on 5th July. The two-day event continues into Saturday 6th at the Wales Millennium Centre. There may be a walking tour of the Grangetown war memorial and our poppy map postcards will be reprinted.

Tribute to Paul Flynn MP

Tributes have been paid to Grangetown-born veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn, who died at the age of 84. Grangetown Local History Society added its own valediction at its recent meeting.

Paul passed away recently after a long, distinguished career as a Parliamentarian, but not many people will know he had his roots in Grangetown and was a pupil at St. Patrick's school. He was in fact a Grangetown boy who made good.

In 2011 he allowed the Society to publish an extract from his book The Unusual Suspect in which he describes the night time departure of his family doing a “moonlight flit” from rooms in Penarth Road and how when his widowed mother called Dr South of Clare Road for a home visit she had to pay two half crowns which she could not afford. But on leaving, the doctor rolled the coins down the hall asking Paul and his brother Mike to play a game.

He went on to say that the memories of his Grangetown childhood were lifelong companions, and the context against which he judged his job in Parliament later was the "painful, proud and honest poverty of working-class life" in Grangetown.

Also making a speech in Parliament, in latter years when he was temporarily promoted to the shadow front bench under Jeremy Corbyn, he remarked that he thought it a very good idea that someone over the age of 80 and who remembered things before the National Health Service should be there, and he certainly had memories of that.

His service to his constituents and country were great and he was renowned for his ironic wit. If ever we write a book about famous people from Grangetown then surely he will head the list. R.I.P.

Doug Knight, Chairman, Grangetown Local History Society, March 2019

New book tells story of Grangetown casualties

Five years of research into the men and women from Grangetown who died in World War One has been published in a book, to mark the end of the centenary of the conflict.

It Touched Every Street tells the stories of soldiers and sailors from the Cardiff suburb who were killed - and the project also found another 156 men and women who were not included on the original war memorial in Grange Gardens.

The stories include the first Welshman to be killed in World War One, within hours of the declaration of war; the first member of the Cardiff 'Pals' regiment to die, as well as the Grangetown men caught up in the major battles of the Somme, at Ypres and in the North Sea at Jutland.

It was launched at Grangetown Hub on Saturday 10th November.

The 200-page book, which includes stories and memories contributed by families, was written by Grangetown Local History Society member and local journalist Steve Duffy.

He uncovered the stories of three women who died in different circumstances directly because of the War, and also tells the story of the only Cardiff City footballer to be killed - just two days before the end of the War.

"It started off as a project to research 330 names on the war memorial but soon it became apparent that there were many other local casualties not recorded - and this in itself was an unexpected twist," said Steve. "Apart from a few mysteries which may never be solved, we now have a pretty good idea about who all the casualties were - where they lived, their families and something about their lives before they went off to war. No Grangetown street was untouched and it's worth reflecting this would have been replicated in many streets across the country."

Since the publication of the book and the postcard project, three more casualties have emerged - thanks to family getting in touch - and these have been added to the online memorial and will be included in any subsequent editions of the book.

It Touched Every Street costs £ 14.99 and is available from the society, direct from Wordcatcher Publishing, online orders add postage. or via Amazon Email If you live locally, it may be possible to arrange for you to collect the book or for a delivery. A sister publication In Proud And Honoured Memory about the Whitchurch war memorial, by Ceri Stennett and Gwyn Prescott, is being published at the same time.

A Grangetown boyhood recalled

Growing up in Grangetown - as it changed but somehow also stayed the same, is the subject of a new book by author Ray Noyes.

Grangetown Local History Society's secretary has always been fascinated by how the area developed - and the industry surrounding it. For this book - which began life as a story of his youth in the 1940s and 1950s intended for his children - Ray returns to the streets he knew and recalls those around him.

Island In The City reflects on the quirky location of Grangetown - cut off by river and railway. His "island" became transformed, but becoming less exciting than it once was. This promises to be a gentle, anecdotal walk through two decades of a changing world seen through the eyes of a child. Expect to learn about - or indeed remember if you were around too - some of the characters of Grangetown's post-war past!

The book is available via Ray at our meetings or from Wordcatcher Publishing online, costing £14.99

Media coverage of our World War One project

There was tremendous coverage of the latter stage of our World War One commemoration - especially the postcard project.

ITV Wales ran a lovely report, talking to residents, pupils at Ninian Park Primary School - during a visit by Grangetown Local History Society, as well as society member Michelle Darby Charles. Watch the video above and read more here

The BBC Wales news website has also featured the project, talking to residents and the history society.

The Western Mail and South Wales Echo both ran double page features on the It Touched Every Street book and our poppy map. The story was also reproduced on Wales Online on Remembrance Sunday and the next day in the Daily Mirror online.

There was also another terrific video item with residents and businesses talking about their postcards, produced by the Wales Online team.

Postcard project embraced by residents

Special postcards marked the house of each Grangetown soldier and sailor who died in World War One.

More than 400 postcards were distributed to last known addresses of those who died - with current householders asked to place them in their windows, as a sign of remembrance in time for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

Hugo - whose great-great grandfather from Grangetown died in the war - helps his family deliver postcards.

Grangetown Local History Society have researched the details of most of the 330 men on the war memorial in Grange Gardens, as well as more than 150 men and women who were omitted when it was erected in 1921.

Letters were included with the postcards to explain the idea behind the project. Each postcard included the name, regiment or ship and date of death of the casualty. And people can find out more about the casualty by looking on this website.

Thanks to members of the society for helping both collate and deliver the cards, which were kindly printed by Allens of Leckwith.

Some streets no longer exist or have no homes on them any more, so the nearest chapel, church or school will be asked to display the cards. There are a small number of casualties for which we either have no details or no address is known.

The project really caught the imagination of residents - and we had some very touching responses from those living in the former homes of soliders and sailors. Families also reacted very positively and there were cases of descendants visiting streets to take a look.

Meanwhile, postcards of the Grangetown "poppy map" - showing all the homes were casualties lived before the War - have also been produced.

Plaque remembers 150 'forgotten' war dead

More than 150 men and women from Grangetown have been honoured 100 years after they lost their lives during World War One.

Five years of research carried out by the Grangetown Local History Society discovered that the names of many people from the area who died were not included on the war memorial when it was first erected in July 1921.

The anomalies were found during research for the details of the 330 soldiers and sailors who were listed alongside their regiments or ships on the original monument in Grange Gardens.

Many details of the casualties - where they lived and worked were discovered - but then other names came to light involving dozens more who for various reasons had been missed.

Now a plaque and plinth have been added to the base of the memorial, in time for the centenary of the end of the war.

"It began with finding around 30 new names initially but it was surprising to uncover many more," said Steve Duffy, who has been researching the names for Grangetown Local History Society's World War One project.

"Some were long established families in the area with strong connections, so there is no straightforward reason why they might have been missed off. There were also three women who died directly as a result of the war in very different circumstances. We have built up an online record but it's really fitting now that their contributions are not forgotten and are remembered with the many others."

Zena Mabbs, Rita Spinola and Ray Noyes of Grangetown Local History Society

Cardiff Council in partnership with Mossfords Ltd, have now added a bronze plaque in memory of those whose "names are not recorded here" to the Grade II listed memorial. The plaque says "more than 140" and the number currently stands at 153.

Cabinet member with responsibility for bereavemen services, Councillor Michael Michael, said: "The sacrifices made by those who fought and died on our behalf should never be forgotten. This plaque ensures that, in this important centenary year, every Grangetown resident who lost their life in the service of our country is honoured in the place they called home."

The original memorial was erected using £1,000 raised by voluntary subscription by the "Grangetown War Heroes Memorial Committee" and was designed by Henry Charles Fehr (1867-1940) who also designed the dragon on City Hall. It was officially opened in front of large crowds on the fifth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

House documents donated to archive

Society member Helen Stradling is donating a large quantity of original documents, relating to a house owned by her uncle in Penhevad Street in Grangetown to Glamorgan Archives.

Some more interesting parts of them are being scanned for the society's own digital archive.

They include mortgage and lease documents involving the Bute estate and the property dating back to 1895.

Michael Callaghan is pictured here with his class at St Patrick's School. He is third from the right, second row from the front.

75 Penhevad Street was bought in 1960 by Michael Callaghan. He had been a career soldier, and served in the Signals Regiment: consequently, during the war  he was amongst the last to be rescued at Dunkirk, as communications had to be maintained up to the last minute.

Helen pictured with one of the documents and Michael and Gerda at their wedding.

He brought Gerda, his German war bride, to live in Penhevad Street (pictured above right), just around the corner from where all nine Callaghan children had been born and brought up, at 31 Corporation Rd.

Michael and Gerda were not blessed with children, but  were a devoted couple until his death in 1983. Michael and his sister Celia Callaghan had been very close, and after his death Celia's daughter Helen Stradling took responsibility for her aunt, who was later cared for in her declining years by Helen and her sister Andrea Alexander, until their aunt's death in 2016  on the eve of her 93rd birthday. 

The old FA Jones decorating store is no more. Photos of the site after demolition and one before. Sadly, the distinctive Stockdale's butcher's shop frontage on the corner was not preserved.

A couple of weeks before the sad death of society member Owen Price in November 2017, he had taken some photos of the aftermath of the demolition of FA Jones decorating store in Penarth Road, which is making way for a flats development. He passed on the photos for the society's digital archive, including a photo he took of the shop during its closing down sale. Below we reproduce an article on the store's story.

Hanging up for good after a century in the shop between them

Specialist wallpaper and paint store FA Jones on Penarth Road closed its doors in 2017, after 66 years of trading. The building was recently demolished and will become flats. FIONA McALLISTER spoke to the Jones brothers about the end of an era, just before they closed their doors for the final time. Article courtesy of Grangetown News. Photos: Brian and Gerald Jones and Fiona McAllister.

The family business was established in 1951 by Frederick Allen Jones (pictured above with his wife) – succeeded by children Brian, Gerald and Jennifer Jones.

The shop was originally based on Broadway, Roath and sold fireplaces, before the decision was taken to broaden out into wallpaper and paint and sell everything to decorate the home. Brian and Gerald still run the shop (with Brian doing the buying and Gerald running the office) while Jennifer, who used to work on the shop floor, retired a few years ago.

Brian Jones said: "It’s a proper family firm and a kind of institution locally. In the time we’ve been here we’ve watched Grangetown change into a totally different place. We have very diverse customers now, with some who first came in as children still coming to buy from us".

The shop stocked more than 300 wallpaper pattern books so customers can choose and order from a huge selection of different wallpaper brands such as Sanderson, Harlequin and Colemans, with the orders arriving in store within a couple of days. They also sold paint and everything you needed to decorate a room. It was really bespoke service, with the owners always ready to give advice and answer customers’ questions on decorating.

FA Jones was originally a wholesale decorators’ merchant business and Brian and Gerald remember driving all round South Wales and the West Country in the late 1960s and early 1970s delivering orders to customers. They’d easily do 300 miles a day in their delivery van and the firm used to hold an annual dinner dance at Bindles in Barry for as many as 400 customers and staff. When the shop held its January sale customers would queue outside on the pavement from 6am for the half-price bargains, with staff taking them out cups of coffee to keep them warm in the winter weather.

At different times FA Jones had seven shops right across Cardiff before taking the decision to consolidate into one unit to compete with the DIY chain stores. Shops included the current store at Penarth Road (the head office – originally number 152) and Clare Road in Grangetown, Cowbridge Road (Canton), James Street (Cardiff Bay), Clifton Street and Broadway (Roath), Whitchurch Road and Albany Road. In its heyday the Penarth Road shop employed 13 people. Now the store is run by Brian and Gerald with the help of two part-time staff.

The corner, ornate part of the store used to be a butcher’s shop before FA Jones extended into it.

During their years in the wallpaper and paint business Brian and Gerald have seen lots of changes in decorating trends. At one time customers would buy eight or nine rolls of wallpaper to paper every wall in a room, then the fashion changed and people started using wallpaper only for chimney breasts, taking it down to two or three rolls. Now the internet has changed the market again, with like FA Jones as a library, to consult their pattern books.

"There’s nothing I haven’t seen," said Brian, explaining that fashions in home decorating come and go.

"Borders were very popular but are now out of fashion, but they’ll come back. Colours come and go and come back again".

Both Brian and Gerald live in Grangetown and will be staying in the area after the business closes. While they are looking forward to retirement after running the shop for so many years with very few days off, they say they will miss the business.

Gerald has worked in the shop for 53 years and Brian for 52 years.

"It’ll be a big wrench – all our lives we’ve worked in the business. It’s been a wonderful journey but we’ve had to work very hard” said Brian. When the shop closes, Brian is looking forward to taking a few holidays, looking after his garden and having more time to spend with his family. Gerald is a keen bowls player who plays for Cardiff and Wales Deaf teams and is hoping to be selected for a trip to New Zealand.

A queue in the snow for a January sale. Copies of the FA Jones archive photographs have also been presented to Grangetown Local History Society.

Drying tonight: Grangetown laundries

The horse and cart which helped advertise Clare Road laundry and clothes dye and mend business - it operated in premises next door to the modern-day Virdee chemist and post office.

The history of Grangetown's laundries was the subject of an illustrated talk by Zena Mabbs at the February meeting.

In the days before most homes had washing machines - and stiff collars were demanded by chapel and office - the laundry was essential, and Grangetown had several.

Zena took us on a virtual tour of the Chinese laundries at the front of people's houses in Holmesdale Street and Paget Street, to the larger businesses such as the Crystal Laundry off Clive Street and the New Era laundry on the corner of Mardy Street and Pendyris Street. Both premises were demolished to make way for new housing.

There is an online fact-sheet on the talk here - and more are featured below

Best foot forward for heritage walk

Grangetown Local History Society members joined a heritage walk around the area in October, which looked at the history of some of the volunteering and community groups in Grangetown over the years. It was part of VCS Cymru's Cardiff Community Heritage Project, which is chronicling the history of volunteering in Cardiff, 1914-2014.

In memorium: Owen Price, 1958-2017

Owen on the left, pictured at a meeting in 2014.

Very sadly, 2017 saw the passing of the three of the society's popular members. Owen Price died suddenly at his home in November at the age of 59.

Owen was a friendly man, who was enthusiastic about genealogy and local history - and a regular face at Grangetown library doing his research. It was a shock to members, who had got to know him in recent years.

Owen joined the Grangetown Local History Society in 2013 and had been a regular attender at our meetings ever since and has always supported the society at the annual fete in Grange Gardens and during our WW1 Exhibition in 2014 he was on duty every afternoon to represent the Society. He was passionate about collecting his family history and when ever we saw him at meetings he usually had a tale to tell about that. He was always willing to take photographs on behalf of the society at various event, visits and projects and we are grateful for his help and kindnesses in this respect. At our last meeting he volunteered his services in anticipation of the Society taking on another project to scan more of their items.

We all will miss his kind, quiet presence at our meetings, and send our condolences to his family. Members from the society joined a large gathering of friends and family for an appreciation of his life at Thornhill in December. A tribute was made at our meeting in January.

Zena Mabbs

Tribute to Terry Harris, 1943-2017

Terry (left) enjoying a history society meeting

The history society has lost one its long-standing members, who travelled regularly for meetings back "home" from Margam, where he lived. Terry was a quiet and friendly member of the group. He was remembered at March's meeting with a tribute from Zena Mabbs, which included mention of his own astonishing personal history - being one of the early recipients of a heart transplant 29 years ago, eight years after the operation was first performed at Harefield Hospital. Terry himself wrote about this gift of extra life in 2013 - and his own Grangetown memories, which we reproduce below.

My life before and after a transplant

This year is a very special year for me as I celebrate 25 years since I had a heart transplant. I will start at the beginning, in 1983 when I was a lorry driver delivering suspended ceilings over all parts of Wales and the West Country. It was while I was making a delivery to Llanelli in September; I was driving on the M4 and I felt terrible. It was indigestion, as I thought, so I stopped at a chemist to buy some tablets. The pain eased so I carried on. All was OK until on the way home the pain started again so I pulled into a lay-by just outside Bridgend. I’m not sure how long I was there but it was at least two hours. Eventually the pain went and I drove home but I did a silly thing and went to work the next day being a Saturday to load up ready for Monday I was ill in there and came home. Gosh, I felt so ill and went to bed!

My wife Janet phoned twice for the doctor but he still didn’t come and she could see I was getting worse so she phoned 999 for an ambulance, they were there in no time and took me into Llandough Hospital where I later had a heart attack. It took me best part of a year to get over it but while I was still recuperating I had the bad news that my elder brother had died from a heart attack. This knocked me for six. He was only 47 and I was only 40. I just wondered what was going on with us.

I went back to work but after 18 months I was struggling again short of breath and chest pain, I managed to go on until the end of the year and went back on the sick. The next year I had another heart attack and Janet had to finish work to look after me. I had tests and I was put on the waiting list for a bypass operation. I waited nearly a year but then I had another heart attack this time a massive one and I wasn’t expected to survive this one. But against all odds I did. The only trouble was that this attack had done so much damage to the heart that they wouldn’t be able to do the bypass and they had taken me off the list. When they told me this it just knocked the stuffing out of me I thought that was my lot, but unknown to me then they still had one trick up there sleeve.

I was tranferred to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff. The doctor came to see me. I was in a bad way but then he said something which just blew me away; he said how would you feel about having a heart transplant? I said yes straight away and when he said 'hold on and think about it a while', my answer to that was 'I don’t need to think about it, when can I have it?' He told me it was not that simple and that I would have to go up to a hospital in London for tests and assessment so that is what happened next. They sent me up there within a week to Harefield Hospital in Middlesex. I was up there for five day’s and then came back to the Heath hospital. I was informed the next that they had accepted me and put me on the transplant list. I was to remain in hospital for the next four months. Eventually, I came home but I had to sleep downstairs. I waited a year to hear from them and in that time I was in and out of Hospital like a yo-yo.

It was a Sunday evening on the 21st February that I had the call from Harefield that they had a heart for me and I had to be up there for 10am the next day. The ambulance was all arranged so I got back in bed and let everybody else do all the running around. I remember the phone hardly stopped ringing for the next few hours even if it was well past midnight.

Terry, left, pictured at a history society meeting

By daylight, we were ready and waiting but no sign of the ambulance, they were late and didn’t turn up until 8am, panic stations with less than 2hrs to get up there and being peak rush hour traffic, we got there a little late but with the help of a police escort and I had the transplant later that day the 22nd Febuary 1988.

As soon as I was allowed out of bed I couldn’t believe how well I felt in such a short time. It was only three days since my operation and I was walking up and down the corridor and with no pain or shortness of breath, it was marvellous.

I was only in the hospital for two weeks as my wife Janet was up there with me. They moved us into an apartment in the village to get me used to a home environment again, it had a telephone line straight to the ward in the hospital in case I needed any help. I had to go over to the hospital every other day for tests.

I had been in the apartment for four weeks and it was decided that I could go home but the next day as I was walking over to have my final test. It only took five minutes to get there but I was short of breath. They noticed straight away and did a test and told me I had rejection and I had to stay another week until all was well. I was so disappointed but the following week all was well and we finally came home. It was sheer bliss and to be able to walk upstairs. I just couldn’t believe it and all the family were the same; they hadn’t seen me go upstairs for so many years.

I didn’t realize how my life was going to change, though, from being sat or lying on my bed day-in, day-out for so long. It went to travelling to my doctors, the local hospital every week and up to Harefield every two weeks. It was so hectic but I didn’t mind that, I was just so grateful to be able to do it. As time went on the visits gradually got less until I had to go to my own hospital every two months and up to Harefield twice a year.

From then on Janet and I immersed ourselves in raising money for the hospital with the help of all the family and our friends. Life was sweet for a good few years and we got on with renovating our house in Leckwith village and sorting out the large garden that we had, but after a while I was feeling it was getting too much for us and things were taking me longer and longer to do so we decided to sell up and move to something more manageable. It took us two years to sell the cottage and we bought a house in Margam nearNr Port Talbot in 2002, all on the flat and a smaller garden. It was ideal.

We had been there a couple of years and I was struggling to do things again the doctors tried all sorts of medication but to no avail I had to go and stay up in Harefield again for tests. Then I had the bad news that I needed another heart transplant.

I was put on the waiting and over three years I was called up there three times as an emergency but each time it was called off because the heart wasn’t suitable. About six months later I was told that I wouldn’t be having the transplant and being taken off the list. They said it was because of my age and the shortage of donors. I was really upset and angry at the time to have travelled up there to be told that, I felt that I was just being dumped.

But looking at the situation later I thought 'well I’ve had one bite at the cherry and there are so many young people waiting for transplants, so OK I can’t do a lot of things but I’ve seen my grandchildren growing up and that is something my brother never had. I’m still here so just be grateful for what I’ve got and just take things as they come and take one day at the time.'

I believe I am very lucky to be celebrating 25 years since my heart transplant on the 22nd February 2013. By Terry Harris, written in 2013. He died in February 2017 and had been one of the longest heart transplant survivors. The record is 33 years.

A teenage delivery boy

I started as a delivery boy in 1956, aged 13, until 1958, riding a carrier bike for Thomas & Evans, delivering groceries around Grangetown. Their shop was on the corner of Penarth Road and Paget Street (where Yang's Chinese restaurant is now). I went there straight from school at 4.30 p.m. The working week was Monday to Saturday with Wednesday off. My wages were 12s 6d and I used to have about 23 shillings in tips; out of that I gave my mother 10 shillings, and I thought I was a millionaire! I used to save £1 and that still left me with more money than I had ever had before.

A bike, similar to the one Terry used. And below David Thomas Davies, manager at Thomas & Evans, who retired in about 1953.

I had a bicycle of my own but the carrier bike was a different thing altogether. The groceries were packed into tall, brown paper bags and when four or five of these bags were loaded into the front carrier basket the added weight took some getting used to. Once mastered, I was away, as good as any of the delivery boys in Grangetown.

As you would expect there was a wide variety of people that I delivered to. One lady who lived all the way down the bottom of Broad Street always snatched the bag off me and slammed the door in my face. She only came into the shop every couple of weeks. I used to deliver to a nice coloured lady who lived alongside the canal in James Street over the Docks, she would come to the shop on a bus, she was very tall and blind, and one of the nicest people you could wish to meet. After she had put her order in I would give her time to get back home on the bus and I would take her order over, unpack it onto the table. She always had a cold drink ready for me and a half crown tip which she insisted I take.

Other customers were show people who used to set up shows on Guest Keen’s ground in Sloper Road. No matter how many of them I used to deliver to they all used to give me two shillings each, and they used to let me have a look in their caravans. I had never seen anything like it; everything was so shiny and spotless.

One of the strangest things I had to do was on a Saturday morning (which was the busiest day of the week) and that was to go to the Bank. The shop manager would pack the money in a cloth bag and then put it into one of the brown paper bags and I would just throw it into the basket in the front of the bike and cycle off to the bank in St Mary Street to pay it in. Can you imagine that happening today? Looking back on it I think it was a bit risky in those days!

A few of my mates were also delivery boys for other shops in Grangetown and said I ought to ask for a rise as they were paid 15 shillings a week. When I told them how much I got in tips they could not believe it, I think they thought I was just saying it to make them jealous, but it was the truth.

Sadly my days at Thomas & Evans came to end in the summer of 1958 when I was 15 and had to go out to work full time. I loved working there and felt privileged to have been able to do so. It taught me so much about life and about people and how to handle money and many other things that I have never forgotten. It stood me well to start my life as a young man. But they say all good things must come to an end and I will never forget my time as a young delivery boy at Thomas and Evans in Grangetown.

Tribute to Joyce Lloyd

It is with great sadness that Grangetown Local History Society heard of the sudden death of one of its most active members. Joyce Lloyd was a regular attender of meetings and activities for the last decade, including the June meeting.

Joyce pictured second from the left on a society visit to Cardiff Castle's frontline museum.

She was born Joyce Davies in Pentre Gardens and grew up there during World War Two, recalling in one of our books how she watched a barrage balloon from her bedroom window. Her late husband Garth donated a fine painting of Grange Farm, which hangs in the local library. Joyce only recently visited the newly re-opened Coal Exchange - now a hotel - where her father had been born and where her grandfather was a caretaker.

Joyce had taken along photos and the hotel had told her they planned to name one of the rooms after her grandfather. Her sons Gerald and David have expressed the wish that members of the society should know of the immense fun and enjoyment, friendship  and company that Joyce and Garth enjoyed with us all, including all the “doing” things.

Oldest Grangetown resident dies, aged 103

Mary (left) with Rita Spinola, who recorded her memories for the Grangetown Local History Society's oral archive, just before her 100th birthday.

Probably Grangetown's oldest resident has died, just a week before her 104th birthday.

Mary Desmond was a mother of 11 and a number of her children lived near her in the Merches Gardens area.

She was born Mary Barry at 38 Chester Street in August 1913. George V was king, Asquith was prime minister, it was a year before World War One and the height of the Suffragete movement. Mary went to St Patrick's School, which she left to look after her grandmother.

Mary with husband Charles in the 1930s and aged 99 at a family wedding.

Mary, who also lived in Clare Road for a time, married her husband Charles Desmond in 1936.

The couple ran the Public Works Department Club in Mardy Street - later the Irish club and now the Samaj Centre - for more than 30 years. It used to attract people from all over Cardiff for dances.

Mary - who was interviewed before her 100th birthday by Grangetown Local History Society - also did bar work which she recalled as enjoying very much even though she did not drink alcohol. Mary also worked at Curran's amunitions factory near the docks, testing shells during World War Two. 

She had 11 children in 11 years but sadly lost her son David aged 23 in a hit-and-run road tragedy at the Clare Road lights in 1973 while Charles died a few months later.

Mary was a staunch member of St Patrick's Church congregation, attending Mass regularly, and had also been a cleaner at Ninian Park School.

Pictured in the 1960s

Her grand-daughter Lisa said: "Nan had a huge family - 11 children, 24 grand children 42 great grandchildren and a number of great-greats. With such a big family and her work at the PWD club she was known by a great many people from all over Cardiff." 

"St Patrick's was her church from the day it was built receiving sacrament until the end of her long life. She was a pillar of the community, the church and her family." 

The Grange pub history - another round!

Rita Feresey - second right - with other former barmaids during an evening to mark the pub's re-opening. Photo: Owen Price

Glamorgan Archives hosted an evening to mark the 160th anniversary of The Grange pub, which re-opened in March.

Grangetown Local History Society told the pub's long history - including tales of its earliest landlords, as well as recalling some of the area's other pubs, which have since called time. The illustrated talk was followed by a short trip to the pub itself for a pint and food for anyone who wants to come along. It follows an similar event at The Grange, not longer after it re-opened under new ownership in March. If you missed it, you can also download a factsheet here giving the full history, going back to its opening in 1857.

The Society also presented bound copies of the history to landlord Dai Dearden and to former barmaid Rita Feresey, who shared her memories of working behind the bar for 41 years! It's hopes some old photos and memorabilia will be on the walls of the pub in the near future too.

The society's August meeting included a talk on Penarth alabaster. Photo: Owen Price.

Donations (a) Keith Fruin donated a book on the Life of George V to the society which will be on display at our September meeting. (b) One of our visitors brought along framed documents (above) relating to 71296 Spr Herbert Morley of the A.W. Cable Sec dated 7 April 1918 signed by Winston Churchill. It was presented to Sapper Morley after he was mentioned in dispatches for Gallant and Distinguished Services in the Field.

Herbert Morley, lived at 38 Wedmore Road, where he was a telegraph wireman. Born in 1885, he married  wife Emily in 1902 and they had 11 children, five predeceased him.

He was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, acting 2nd Corporal. Looking at the certificate it looks as if he was in the AW (Artisan Works) cabling section, where his skills as a telegraph worker would have been useful.

Herbert's parents had both died before he joined the Army in WW1. His father Herbert was apparently born in Texas and also worked in the telegraph business. The family lived in Devon Place and Court Road.

His son Henry died aged 27 on 2 June 1940 at Dunkirk, while serving with the North Lancashire Regiment. Herbert died in 1942.

Serving up the past

Thanks to Jeff Barkley, who has given us a glimpse of Grange Gardens from more than 50 years ago. Grangetown Local History has been donated copies of photos of Jeff's grandfather Fred Lewis, who during the 1940s, 50s and early 60s worked as a gardener in Grange Gardens and for many years maintained and was in charge of the bowling green there. He lived in Clare Road where Jeff was also brought up. Mr Lewis died in 1972. Anyone who knows who the tennis players might be - let us know! You can read more about Grange Gardens history here.

Prisoner of war details added to archive

The story of a prisoner of war from Grangetown who had been captured at Dunkirk during the Allied evacuation in 1940 is being told after artefacts were donated to the society.

Leonard Ivor Fry Smith is pictured above, aged about 38, at a party to celebrate his homecoming in 1945 in Avondale Crescent, five years after he was taken prisoner. He is highlighted in the image at the party next to a cake.

Also is a thanksgiving scroll and prayer from the Ludlow Street Methodist Church, given to the family.

Pictured before the war with his soon to be wife and on a trip to Lavernock with family and neighbours - and one of the last photos before his death in 1960, aged 53.

Known by his middle name Ivor or "Ite" - he was born in 1906, one of 10 children born to Bristol Channel pilot Lewis Smith and his wife Elizabeth from Ferry Road. At some point the family moved to 41 Clive Street, next to Parfitt's fish shop. Ivor married Irene Bird, who also lived in Clive Street, in 1937. His family were Methodists but his new wife was the daughter of the St Paul's church warden so they were married there. The couple moved to a newly-built house at 1 Avondale Crescent before war soon intervened.

His Army records and a letter about him being taken prisoner - click for larger version

Pte Ivor Smith was captured at Calais during the Dunkirk evacuation, only four days after arriving overseas, on May 26th 1940. Although he was taken prisoner, he was listed as missing and it would be August before his wife knew he was alive.

Ivor was held at Stalag 21B - or Thure - in Poland. What little he later told his family about his time there included that the camp was near Poznan and that they received Red Cross food parcels. But it appears probable he would also have been involved in a forced march with other POWs as the Russians headed into Germany, with other records also showing him at Blachownia in Poland, which was a labour camp.

Ivor's records show his service as a craftsman. One sees him with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps before during his time as prisoner being transferred to a role as a mechanical engineer with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

After the war and his return, he resumed worked for Coastlines as a driver - the job he had before enlisting in 1939. But he died at the young age of 53 in 1960.

Thanks to his daughter Lesley for the donation.

Heritage walk and art workshop

Members of Grangetown Local History Society joined local artists in a heritage walk and art workshop.

The event, organised by the local Artshell group, was based on local public art, recently going up near the Clare Road and Penarth Road junction.

Society members talked about how the area once used to look and about some of the shops which once traded there.

Grangetown gasworks featured on 'Hidden Cardiff' documentary

The Grade II-listed gasholder - the last remaining remnant of Grangetown Gasworks - was featured on a BBC Wales documentary about surprising landmarks from Cardiff's history.

Hidden Cardiff with Will Millard looked at tunnels and underground canals, and also the story of Insole Court, as well as the history of the gasworks off Ferry Road. The presenter was accompanied by Grangetown Local History Society secretary Ray Noyes, who remembered bringing his grandfather's lunch to him when he worked there.

The works opened in 1863 and was a big employer. Cardiff Gas Light and Coke Co was formed in 1837 in Whitmore Lane/Bute Terrace by an Act of Parliament and chaired by Charles Crofts Williams, who became mayor of Cardiff. As the town expanded, there was need for a larger works - with land acquired at Grangetown in 1859, with the works opening in 1863 - connected to the Bute Terrace works by an 18 inch main. By 1870, the works was supplying gas to light up the new suburbs of Cogan, Whitchurch, Radyr and St Fagans. The works expanded, with the purchase of some of Grange Farm's land and land once used by Grangetown iron works.

It was not universally popular. There was some opposition to the price of gas, while others locally in 1869 complained to Parliament at the time of the Cardiff Gas Bill about the smell. Mr Salt, a local builder, said lots of tenants had given notice - some leaving without paying rent. A local vicar and schoolmaster also objected. Even the company's own history in the 1930s admitted workers in the early days toiled "in dusty, dirty and confined conditions," as they handled coal and ashes by hand. Later the works would become more automated. The works had five gas holders, the largest with a 1.5 million cubic ft capacity.

The surviving gasholder was listed by Cadw in 1992 and described as an "architectural masterpiece". It was built by a West Midlands firm J and W Horton's in 1881, based on a classical Italianate design. The site next door has been cleared for a future housing development and it's very much hoped that the gasholder will be preserved as a notable feature, given its rarity and industrial heritage status.

Details of another name on the Grangetown War Memorial uncovered

Although we have had an exhibition and centenary commemoration, our World War One project does not stand still.

We are marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths of each of those servicemen from Grangetown as they pass - including on our Twitter account.

We are also still trying to research details of outstanding soldiers and sailors, whose addresses or in some cases service details and dates of death, have proved elusive.

One name which we managed to track down details for is Private John Sheehan. He hasn't got a Commonwealth war grave, he appears as possibly "I Shecan" on the memorial and as "A Sheehan" in the list of men with the 6th Battalion Welsh Regiment in the programme when the memorial was dedicated in 1921.

Thanks to Army Museum records of soldier's effects, it has been established that John Sheehan died after discharge and his next of kin was his sister.

So now we can establish more details: He was a docks labourer and former serviceman who enlisted in August 1914 possibly at the age of 49, although he declared his age as 44. He was living at 23 Bute Terrace at the time he joined up and working for the Bute Dock Company. His late father was a bootmaker. He died at the home of his elder sister Mary Agnes Spillane at 25 Ferndale St, Grangetown. His death certificate says he had contracted rheumatism and cardiac asthenia five months before. He had beeen discharged from the Army on medical grounds as unfit on 27th April 1915.

Sadly we missed his centenary, but have added his details to the online memorial and will be doing so to our poppy street map. We're keen to establish details for the following 30 men on the memorial. We'd like to hear from anyone who can help us:

Names on the memorial needing more research We're particularly interested in tracking down details of the following men on the memorial, including those with Grangetown connections which are uncertain. Some details on the memorial so far have proved inaccurate, so we'd like to hear from anyone who can help us:

CALLAN, Thomas On St Patrick's RC Church plaque, no details traced
CAVANAGH J Welsh Regiment TWT Royal Engineers Lieutenant - No details can be traced
CHIPLEN, Frederick - Grangetown address/connection?
COLEMAN, James Mark Grangetown address/connection?
DE VINE, James Arthur Forrest Grangetown address/connection?
DRURY, Robert b Lincoln but where did he live in Grangetown?
EVANS, D Welsh Regiment 3rd Battalion Private No details can be traced
GULMAN,J Welsh Regiment 2nd Battalion Private No details can be traced
HUGHES, S.J Welsh Regiment 13th Battalion Sergeant No details can be traced
JARVIS, J Mercantile Marine S.S "Freshfield" Seaman Gunner d 5 Aug 1918; Grangetown address/connection?
JONES, W G Royal Welsh Fusiliers Regiment Private Grangetown address/connection?
JONES, William Norman, Royal Welsh Fusiliers 1st Battn Exact Grangetown address?
LEWIS, John A, South Wales Borderers 5th Battalion Grangetown address/connection?
MCLAREN, David.L CWGC 2759421 Royal Naval Reserve H.M.S "Ashtree" Sub-Lieutenant d 21 July 1918 - illness Husband of Emily McLaren, of 41, Romilly Rd. West, Victoria Park, Canton, Cardiff.
MURRAY, James, Welsh Regiment 16th Battalion Grangetown address/connection?
O'LEARY,W.J Royal Navy H.M.S "Vivid" Eng Navigator No details traced
O'REILLY, Richard On St Patrick's RC Church plaque, no details traced
OLSEN, T Royal Navy H.M.S "Gosamer" Seaman Is it Trygve OLSEN, born Norway, living in Seaman's Hospital, Ferry Road in 1911 - a marine stoker, b 1889?
PAYNE, A Royal Army Service Corps Driver No details can be traced - possibly Alfred Edward Payne (b 1892, 32 Penhaved St) who may be the same who joined the RASC as a driver, No 174169, reinlisting in March 1916. -
PRIEST, C Royal Navy H.M.M.S No.7 Stoker No details can be traced - could have been serving on the Q7 ship Penshurst, which was sunk on Dec 25 1917.
REES, David Edmunds CWGC 3031914 Mercantile Marine S.S "Camerata (not Camelata) from Swansea Second Engineer d 2 May 1917, aged 24 Grangetown address/connection?
REES, George. Herbert, Rifle Brigade 3rd Battalion, (The Prince Consort's Own) Grangetown address/connection?
RIDLAND, W.C Machine Gun Corps Private Looks likely to be W Cridland - not sure of exact Grangetown address but connected to Grangetown family
SAUNDERS,William Welsh Regiment 2nd Battalion Private Exact Grangetown address needed
SHECHAN, I Welsh Regiment 6th Battalion Private No details traced
SMALLBRIDGE, C Royal Navy H.M.S "Warwick" Private No details traced
SMITH, T A Royal Army Service Corps Driver No details traced
THOMAS, George Edward, Welsh Regiment 11th Battalion Grangetown address/connection?
THOMAS, William J CWGC 607434 Royal Army Medical Corps 2nd (Welsh) Field Ambulance Private 1477 d 13 Aug 1915, aged 21 at Gallipoli Grangetown address/connection?
WALES, T.A.L Royal Navy H.M.S "Bellona - poss died at Battle of Jutland 1916 No details traced
YORATH, W Welsh Regiment 9th Battalion Private No details traced

If you have any details for the above, please get in touch with the society by emailing

Donation of old photos

Julia Zimmerman, who now lives in Minneapolis, USA, has kindly donated numerous items, including souvenir albums of old photos of Cardiff, Penarth and Barry, a programme and adverts for the Cardiff Empire theatre. It also includes a large format commemorative album celebrating the visit of King George Vth and Queen Alexandra to Cardiff, which will also be kept in our archive. Thanks, Julia! Items are being scanned for members to view via Dropbox. There is a taster above of scenes of St Mary Street, Queen Street and Duke Street arcade.

News in brief and local/family history queries

The older school photo - possibly Ninian Park again - and Christopher and Agnes, with son Frederick.

GRIFFITHS FROM GRANGETOWN: Christopher Griffiths is inquiring about his ancestors who lived in 91 North Clive St., 20 Clive St., 25 Ty Nant St. 9 Avoca Pl, 71 Penhevad St. and 24 Stockland St. He has e-mailed us some lovely photographs. The photo below is believed to be Ninian Park School in about 1932.

His great-grandparents, Christopher and Agnes Griffiths (nee Smith) were married in 1922 in Grangetown Baptist Church. At the time Christopher (born 1895) lived in North Clive Street and Agnes lived in 25 Tynant Street. He has sent us some family photographs. The older school photo is dated around the turn of the 20th century and we're not sure if it is Ninian Park School from an earlier period or if the teacher on the right of both photos is the same man, 30 years apart.

Christopher would like to make contact with members of his family as he is hoping to visit Grangetown in December from South African. Here are the names of the siblings of Christopher Griffiths (born 1895) - Emily Ann b. 1897 Edith b. 1898 Gladys b. 1900 Ivor b. 1902 Leonsah b. 1902 Frances aka Nancy b. 1904 Zippora b. 1907 Phillip John b. 1908 Doris May b. 1910 Thomas A. b. 1911 Olwen C. aka Cissie b. 1915.

Request for family history information - William Watson. An email had been received from a Mrs Ruth Hinton asking for information on her grandfather, Mr William Frank Watson, who owned a paper mill at 9a Penarth Road. Any members who can throw any light on this information, especially the works’ location, should contact the secretary.

External research requests: Aileen Thyer has offered to undertake some research for people enquiring of the Society after their family history. Normally, the Society does not have the resources to respond to such requests, but Aileen has offered to help where possible. Her email address is:

If you have any details for the above, please get in touch with the society by emailing

Remembering the Somme, 100 years on

Remembrance Sunday in 2016 included remembering the men from Grangetown who died in the first battle of the Somme, 100 years ago.

Society chairman Doug Knight lays a wreath

July 1916 was the month in which more men from Grangetown died than in any other during the war. But the battle continued into November.

The annual service at the war memorial in Grange Gardens took place on Sunday 13th November, with a refereshments and a WW1 display at the nearby Grangetown Conservatives Club afterwards, hosted by Grangetown Local History Society. Report and more photos

Altogether, 33 men from this area were killed.

On Monday, we are marking the centenary of the death of Harold Miller, who was 22. He was the son of a fishmonger and grocer living in Clive Street, and was brought up in Paget Street – the youngest of five surviving siblings.

He became an apprentice watchmaker and jeweller and joined the Rifle Brigade soon after war was declared.

His battalion were sent to the Somme in 1916 and he was due to take part in an attack on Beaucourt on the early morning of November 14th. But at around midnight, at a place called Beaumont Hamel, there was a “hostile barrage” leaving 40 dead and wounded.

Harold is buried in the same cemetery as his battalion chaplain, the Reverend Captain Ernest Trevor, a 30-year-old Yorkshireman, who also died that night.

A total of 18 would died in the first 16 days of the offensive - including members of the Cardiff Pals and Glamorgan Pioneers in the Welsh regiments at Mametz Wood. Most were rememembered on the Grange Gardens memorial but not all. Who were they? What happened to them?

Private Frank Gillespie was your typical Grangetown soldier in many ways. He was 22 years old and newly married when he was sent to the Somme. He lived with his parents in Knole Street – number 36 – and worked down at the Docks. There was an engineering firm called Loveridge in Hannah Street which made equipment for ships and he was a smith’s striker. Hot work.

He was the eldest of 10 brothers and sisters, the son of a Somerset man who had also worked in the shipyards. Frank enlisted as soon as he could at the start of the war as a 20 year-old. He joined the South Staffordshire Regiment. He had been invalided home twice, before the Battle of the Somme. Frank married around the time his baby daughter Ellen was born in March 1916 but he was soon left his wife Agnes and was back over to France.

The South Staffs were in the 7th Division, 91st brigade – and part of a diversionary attack on Gommecourt, north of the main Somme battle that morning. The Germans were well dug in to withstand the artillery barrage and responded with machine gun and rifle fire. Frank was one of those missing presumed dead.

As well as the Grange Gardens memorial he was remembered on the Grangetown Baptist church memorial. Agnes his widow remarried in 1923. The daughter who never knew him moved to the United States and died 10 years ago.

You can read more about the Grangetown men who died in the first few days of the Battle of the Somme here and there is more on our Grangetown at War website

Remembering the Merchant Seamen

Grangetown Local History Society was represented at the annual remembrance event for the sailors and merchant seamen of Cardiff who died in two World Wars.

Cardiff County and Vale of Glamorgan Symphonic Band provided music for the seafarers' service, at the Merchant Seamen memorial in Cardiff Bay, presided over by the Rev Peter Noble and Rev Nicholas Jones, chaplain to the mission of seafarers.

The society presented a floral tribute and was represented by Rita and Dalton Spinola, Peter Ranson, Harold Boudier, Bruce Porteous, Zena Mabbs and Alan Collier.

Ken Lloyd RIP

by Zena Mabbs

Ken during a visit to the Parliamentary archives in 2011

It is with sadness that we heard of the passing of long time history society member Ken Lloyd.

He was a staunch member of the Grangetown Local History Society for many years and was a regular attender of meetings at the Old Library under the chairmanship of Eileen Breslin, accompanied by his sister.

Ken always helped out where ever he could with our various activities, particularly so when he accompanied Rita to so many interviews for our oral history project.

We have his own Grangetown memories safely recorded and some of these anecdotes on how he escaped death on three occasions were featured in our Grangetown Memories Book One.

It included Ken's memories of the Blitz, when as a boy, fate intervened so he escaped tragedy in the bombing of Hollyman's bakery in January 1941.

Aged 12 and a half at the time, he was on his way home from a children's meeting at the Ebenezer Chapel in Corporation Road, when he was among those called towards the shelter by Mr Hollyman. "I was just walking past Grange Gardens, coming home," he recalled. "I lived in Warwick Street and told him I didn't have far to go," said Ken. Of the children he said, "We were with them one day, and they next day they weren't there. Everyone who had gone in there (the shelter) was killed outright."

We all missed his kind presence and wise counsel when he decided he was not able to come to our meetings because of ill health.

Ken was born in Ludlow Street and for many years had a shop in Holmesdale Street; he was a member of the Ebenezer Gospel Hall and also helped out at the Salvation Army. Ken also used to run a Friendship Club held at the Grangetown Library.

Our condolences go to Sheila, all his family and to all his many friends. From all the members of the Grangetown Local History Society who had the privilege of sharing his company and friendship over the years.
Warehouse demolition for the archive

History would be nothing if no-one bothered to document what was around now. We rely on people to photograph local places and landmarks, especially when they are changing or about to change. Keith Fruin has given us photographs showing the demolition of the David Morgan warehouse off South Clive Street - taken from the Channel View flats - a few years back. Move your mouse on the image to reveal the demolition - after - photo

The young David Phillips outside No 111 Penarth Road - he lived with his parents above his grandfather Steve's grocer's shop. Below is a photo of him with his father Harmon with a cod, just caught off Penarth pier.

New members include David Phillips, who was brought up with his parents at 111 Penarth Road above his grandfather's greengrocer’s shop.

Under the river - the Grangetown subway

Nearly 120 years ago, a subway was built under the River Ely linking Grangetown with Penarth.

It was built as a short cut for workers at Penarth Dock.

Work began on the subway in 1897 using a trench and cover technique from the Ferry Road, Grangetown end under the river at the same point as the ferry crossing. The lowest section of the tunnel lies 11 feet below the river.

The decision to construct the Ely River Subway was made by the chairman of the Taff Vale Railway, Arthur E. Guest. George T. Sibbering, chief engineer of the Taff Vale Railway designed the subway.

The tender sum was £36,203 submitted by Tom Taylor, a mining quarrying and civil engineering contractor from Pontypridd.

The first cylindrical section of the tunnel was laid on 5th July 1897 and the last on 15th September 1899. It was opened the following year on 14th May 1900 by Mrs. Beasley wife of the railway's general manager, replacing the earlier rowing boat and steam ferries operating across the river.

A toll keeper collected a penny for each pedestrian but police and postmen were exempt from charges. It cost twopence for a bicycle and fourpence for a perambulator.

Horses were allowed through but no one remembers the charge.

Tolls were abolished in 1941. The subway carried the hydraulic power line from the power station to the coal tips at the harbour and a high pressure water supply to fight fires at the oil storage area.

Residents of a certain age remember walking or cycling along it - the dripping water and the lightbulbs being out!

The subway closed in 1963 but it's still there of course, if boarded up.

There are some photos above of how the Grangetown end of the entrance looks now. Thanks to Owen Price. There is also a fantastic website on the history of Penarth Docks, which includes more details about the Ely subway and how it was built.

Constructing Grangetown - book chronicles Victorian growth

Ray presents a copy of Victorian Grangetown.

Grangetown Local History Society secretary Ray Noyes has completed a big task - a book telling the story of how Victorian Grangetown was built.

Ray was particularly interested in the building and engineering involved in the huge development of the suburb in the latter half of the 19th Century.

He has chronicled its origins from medieval times and the Victorian growth and put together details and images of many of the plans of some of the area's most important buildings in the process.

Ray presented a copy of the book for the society's archive.

"Most texts on the history of Grangetown deal with the 20th century; this one examines its origins from Norman times and follows its detailed design and construction up to the disappearance of the horse-drawn trams in 1903," said Ray.

"Drawings and correspondence created during its construction are used to illustrate the text and follow the decisions made as the area grew.

"Using original archived sources, the project of 'the town on the grange' revealed some surprises. For example, Grangetown was not initially considered part of Cardiff at all, but was an integral part of the Baroness of Windsor's grand project to build the Penarth Tidal Harbour, its docks and railways.

"Some facts were shocking - the area was the unhealthiest in the whole of Cardiff; its mortality rates for infants and the old were also the highest; it had the highest per capita number of paupers and destitute people in the town. Both cholera and typhoid visited the Grange. Exposed to continual flooding and more or less permanent marsh water, sewers and the foundations of many buildings simply sank. There was even a tsunami in 1607!

"Warnings about building the town on a marsh came true. It proved difficult and expensive to tame and gave rise to health problems for decades."

The book also draws the important link and corresponding development of Penarth docks with Grangetown, across the River Ely, as Baroness Harriet Windsor looked to rival the Marquis of Bute.

Ray has concentrated his research on lower Grangetown - an area he is most familiar with. But although this might disappoint those with interest in upper Grangetown/Saltmead, this is only because his study in his chosen part of Grange is so detailed and there are such an interesting array of plans and illustrations.

At the society's December meeting, Ray gave an illustrated talk about the 440-page book.

It covered the history of Grangetown from the early 12th century when the grange marshes were in secular hands under the Norman lord, Graham de Sturmi, through to the end of the Victorian era. A number of unusual findings were presented, not least of all that Grangetown was originally considered an intimate part of Penarth not Cardiff.

The area was finally taken into the borough of Cardiff in 1875 following serious concern about the unusually poor health of residents and the shocking condition of the housing and overcrowding. The involvement of the two great families, the Windsors and the Butes, in the construction of the area was illustrated, together with the scale of the investment involved. A number of street names came directly from those of the estates and investment interests of those two families. The talk covered the phased construction of the area, illustrated by building plans and street designs.

Ray's provided some of the images below, for those who were interesting in examining them in more detail. Click on the images for the full size.

This is an early sketch map of Lower Grange - and you can see the names of the different builders for the houses, including John Salt quite prominent. He left £3,000 when he died in 1876, aged 45. He lived in a house, Tower Grange, "near the bridge" and Grangetown iron works. There's also builders like Abraham Lane (1826-1870). Click image for full size.

This is interesting because it shows early plans to build streets beyond Ferry Road and towards the foreshore (to the bottom left). The biggest problems facing builders in Grangetown were flooding and the marshy land - so these streets were not developed. Click image for full size.

This map from the 1870s shows the baptist church in Clive Street and off Penarth Road, significantly the brick works - between modern Redlaver Street and North Street. The ground was perfect for "marl" clay. At its height in the late 1860s, the works turned out 1.5m bricks a year. Another brick works was located between Penarth Road and modern day Clare Road - in the Taff Mead area. Click image for full size.

The book will prove to be a tremendously important and fascinating local history resource, as well as being beautifully produced. Members have already ordered copies of Victorian Grangetown, which is self-published, and more can be ordered for a price of around £14 each.

Buying our beer 100 years ago

Grangetown Local History Society has archived accounts and receipts kept by one time landlord of The Grange pub, John Pritchard, 100 years ago.

They were found in the roof of the now closed pub by a former landlord a few years ago and handed over to the society.

These examples below show what local people were buying as off licence items on 1 April 1916 - exactly a century ago. They include orders for flagons of strong ale and pale ale.

Click on photos for larger images

Death of former Grangetown and Butetown boxer

Tributes have been paid to former Welsh champion boxer David "Darkie" Hughes, who has died at the age of 85.

Hughes fought 46 professional fights - winning 33 of them - at both welterweight and light-weight, with a reputation for courage, style and skill.

He had previously won the Welsh and British ABA titles as an amateur in 1953. In 1960, his victory over Billy "Spider" Kelly at Sophia Gardens in a title eliminator gave him a crack at the British light-weight title. But he faced a frustrating year for his chance. When he eventually faced champion Dave Charnley at Nottingham Ice Rink it ended all too quickly - inside 40 seconds of the first round, which was then a British record.

© British Pathe - watch the short-lived Hughes-Charnley fight in 1961

The young Hughes took up boxing as a schoolboy, after being bullied. He was born in April 1930 in Herbert Street in Butetown to a Trinidad-born father, a sailor, who died in 1942 when his ship was torpedoed. The young David went to St Mary's school and fought at the central youth club and by the age of 15 was the Welsh and British Army Cadet champion.

After turning pro, he fought Willie Lloyd for the vacant Welsh lightweight title at Maindy Stadium. Boxing historian Gareth Jones, in his The Boxers of Cardiff wrote: "A hand injury hampered Hughes but there were still many who thought refereee Joe Morgan wrong in giving the decision to Lloyd."

Of that all too sudden ending to his British title hopes in 1961, Jones added: "A southpaw right hook staggered the drawn-looking challenger in the opening seconds, another sent him to his haunches and when he rose, a third sent Darkie crashing in his own corner, his head bouncing off the canvas."

Although he gave up boxing a few years later, Darkie remained interested in the sport and was a leading light in the establishment of a boxers' union in Wales. Outside the ring, working life included time as a boilerman and took him from Wyndam's engineering in the docks, Barry railway depot, Aberthaw power station to Llanwern steelworks. Darkie married Sheila in 1950 and they had four children - Jackie, Alan, Alison and Joanne. They lived in Warwick Street and also Somerset Street in Grangetown before a move to Llanrumney. He was well known face in the Grange pub and at Grangetown bowls club.

Darkie also leaves nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He died peacefully in a care home on 8th January and his funeral was held at St Mary's church.

'Scarce' was the first word I knew

Speaking to the history society at the Glamorgan Archives

Sir Malcolm Pill, who spent much of his childhood in World War Two being brought up in Grangetown, gave a talk to the Grangetown Local History Society at its September meeting.

The distinguished retired appeal court judge published a book A Cardiff Family in the Forties about his father's wartime in North Africa and Italy and his Cardiff boyhood.

The Pills came from Cornwall to work in the Cardiff Docks in the 1860s and they settled in Grangetown where they became members of the Clive Street Baptist Chapel. Sir Malcolm's father Reginald, a barristers' clerk before the war, wrote letters back to his family while he served as an officer in the war. He was also a photographer and captured some fascinating images of the Army in the desert.

He told the society that war was a "natural state of affairs" for him as a child. "'Scarce' was the first word I knew." He also recalled his grandfather's collection of tinned food "which was still there in 1957 when he died".

Malcolm Pill with his parents and maternal grandfather Tom Davies in the late 1930s and with his mother during the war.

In his book he describes his grandparents' house in Clive Street, where he lived with his mother from 1941 to 1944:

"There was no electricity in the house and no inside lavatory. If, in retrospect, it lacked amenity, it did not seem so at the time. The front room, which had a light coloured sofa and a piano, was used only on Sundays and on special occasions such as Christmas; life otherwise went on in the kitchen, to which the scullery was attached.

"The kitchen was a long, rather dark room with a fireplace at one end and grandfather's armchair in the corner near it with the cat's blanket alongside... "The middle room of houses like this, of which there were many in Grangetown, was often used by another family or a different generation of the same family. That had a conservatory, often converted into a kitchen, with separate access to the back yard."

Champion walker Harry kept going

Three-times Welsh champion track walker Harry Lewis (1906-1993) was remembered recently in a Brian Lee column in the South Wales Echo.

Harry (pictured on the right) was from Clive Street and ran a sheet metal business. His walking career led to many trophies and awards in the 1920s and 30s, and he also set a road record for the Cardiff City Walking Club course. He also ran cross country and became an official with the Welsh AAA.

Harry's story is also remembered by his great-grandaughter Lucy in the Old Grangetown Memories Book Two. He had decided to join a walking club race one day with a couple of friends - and never looked back.

"After a while they all stopped but Harry kept going. At the end of the race, I think he came something like 2nd or 3rd and the judges said 'who's he - we've never seen him before, he must be new.'"

After being signed up to the Glamorgan Walking Club he soon started accumulating awards and had 62 medals and nine trophies by the age of 19, a year after his first official race.

Copies of Old Grangetown Memories Book Two are now available at a reduced price of £3.50p plus and p and p. Please e mail or Tel 02920 345962 if you would like a copy at this reduced price.

PHOTOGRAPH OF DIMASCIO SHOP Wendy Ford has donated a photograph of her grandmother Margaret (Maggie) of 12 Newport Street, behind the counter of Dimascio's shop in Holmesdale Street.

The Dimascios (Christina and Fillipo) were an Italian-Scottish family who opened their ice cream shop/cafe in the mid 1930s. During World War Two, the couple were interred in the Isle of Man - in common with many other Italians - although their son Ovidio served in the British Army. Dimmaneta Dimascio was in business in Holmesdale Street until 1972. The business supplied cinemas in Cardiff, as well as army and airforce camps. A horse-drawn ice cream cart took their wares through the streets in the 1950s.

Trevor Darke. His research had revealed that some of his family lived in Clare Road at number 142. Other information indicated family members had lived at number 1 Victoria Buildings, Clare Road. He wanted to know if these addresses are the same. Information from attendees indicated that the family may have connections with a shop that was on the corner of Newport Street and that some of the family attended Ebenezer Chapel around 1970.

Cory Peachey has emailed us concerning his family who was from the Newtown area. He/She has asked if anyone can shed light on the following family names: Walters, O’Keefe, Gulley, Yorath, O’Connor or Morrisey. Some members thought that a Yorath had lived in Hewell Street and that a Gulley had lived on the corner of Holmesdale Street. In the Society’s booklet Old Grangetown Memories Book Two, page 54, there is a note that in 1910 a David Yorath was a shopkeeper living at number 1 York Place.

Information from members. Aileen Thyer has some information for the Society. She had spoken to Rita some time ago about the importance of collecting information on the Corpus Christi event. She is gradually building up a collection of photographs, including ones from St Patrick’s School. She intends to make these available to the Society. She pointed out that Facebook has a page called Grangetown Born and Bred where people can post information about their links to the area. She has posted on it an invitation for anyone who has a Grangetown background to get in touch with her. Central Library It was pointed out that on the first Saturday of the month, the top floor research area is staffed by an archivist.

The two Grangetown teenage sailors "missing" in first hours of war

Harry and Raymond Burford as young men

Two Grangetown teenage brothers were involved in one of the earliest incidents of the Second World War, when their merchant ship was attacked by U-boat in the middle of the Atlantic.

Henry "Harry" Burford, 18, and his 16-year-old brother Raymond were among 33 crew on board the Royal Sceptre, which was carrying wheat and maize from Argentina to Belfast. But after it was attacked, it was an anxious two weeks before the family learnt they had survived - with many believing the crew had been lost. What happened next? Read the full story here.


Donations for church's World War One window

Grangetown Local History was among those who presented St Paul's Church with donations in aid of its appeal to restore stained glass windows, which remember those lost in World War One.

The windows depict the sea - including merchant navy - air and trench warfare and was installed in the 1920s and is one of the largest memorials of its type. But the glass after nearly 100 years needs restoration work. The society presented Father David Morris with a donation. Society member Joyce Lloyd also held a coffee morning, which raised more money. There were separate personal donations by World War Two veteran Harold Boudier and by David Hughes, chairman of the Western Front Association. You can donate online by going to the St Paul's appeal page.

Dad's Army - but who are these characters?

We've been donated a photograph, believed to be of Home Guard from World War Two in Grangetown but are looking to put names to faces. Cpl D Matthews, Cpl R Richardson, Cpl J Davies, Cpl D S Ralph and Cpl W Head are names on the back but no more details. Thanks to Keith Fruin.

The great smell of Bruton's

We've been sent a few memories after posting this photo of long-standing Grangetown business - Bruton's bakery.

This is the shop in Holmesdale Street and you can just imagine the smell of the bread just out of the oven. It hasn't changed that much, here or at the shop in Clare Road. Some older residents may remember Olive (pictured second left).

Winifred Beddoes (nee Byrne writes): "I was born in 1948 and lived in Bromfield Street, Grangetown from 1948 until 1968, and had many happy memories of Brutons. After leaving St Patrick’s RC School in 1963, my first job was in Brutons Bakery from 1963 until 1966, and I recognised some the ladies in the photograph. The lady on the left of the photograph was Denise Gigot who was from Belgium and she was the van driver who delivered the bread and cakes to the shops in Clare Road, and Victoria Park. I also remember Olive Dibble very well who was the manageress of the shop in Holmesdale Street, and I found her to be very nice but strict. The next lady in the photograph also served in the Holmesdale Street shop and I think her first name was Gwen.

At the time I was working in Brutons, I remember Tarvers Grocers, Dowdings Fish Shop, Chris Brown the Hardware Store on the Square also Charlie Bowles the Barber Shop which was also on the Square, Barnes the Butchers and not forgetting Clarks Pie Shop - the list goes on and on. I also remember with great affection the Ninian Cinema, and if you wanted to go dancing there was the Iron Rooms and St Patricks Hall – who needed to go into town ? Grangetown was a great place to grow up where you could leave your front door open and everyone knew each other."

Anyone who wants to share any more Bruton's bakery memories, we'd be pleased to hear from you.

Blitz programme tells of Grangetown's most tragic night

There was a lot of praise for the BBC Wales programme to mark the 75th anniversary of the Blitz starting in Britain.

Grangetown's own anniversary of course will be in January but the air raid which killed more than 60 people in the area was featured in "Blitz Wales with John Humphrys". The Splott-born presenter - born in the middle of the war - visited the site of the Hollyman bakery in Corporation Road in Grangetown - rebuilt and now Clarence Hardware. Thirty two people were killed when an air-raid shelter at the bakery, used by local residents, took a direct hit in January 1941. This has one of the most tragic stories of the Blitz in Cardiff - you can read more here. The programme producer Georgina Lee has contacted as many people as she can who helped with the project and sent her thanks to the Society for its support: "The historical society have been a big help. It is fantastic to see such a committed and active group who have such a passion for local history."

Landlord's receipts from pub attic added to archive

The news of the sale of the Grange pub on Penarth Road coincided with the History Society passing into the safe keeping of the Glamorgan Archives papers found in the roof space of the pub by former landlord Tommy Lake.

These papers date back to 1915 when John Pritchard owned The Grange and they involve more than 345 receipts relating to local shops from which he purchased food, clothing etc., a receipt book showing addresses and amounts of beer received by the occupiers, a bank paying-in book showing the amounts paid in weekly by Mrs. Locke including rent on properties owned by the pub landlord.

Mr Pritchard was also the occupier of Holms Farm in Dinas Powys and there are some letters which give insights into the dispute he had with his neighbour over fences.

All the items have been scanned and are available for viewing by researchers upon request.

Click on the receipt above right - it shows that Mr Pritchard bought slippers at Christmas time in 1921. He didn’t have far to go - the shop was on the opposite corner to the pub.

Receipts from Barclays Bank show money paid in, including rent from houses.

There are also receipts which show other local businesses. These ones came from Harry Kent, who ran a fruitiers and fishmongers close by at 176 Clare Road with his wife Lucy - where the Subway chain is now. The Kents were originally from Surrey and would have been in their 50s in the early 1920s. The receipts list items ranging from vinegar, cabbage to hake and kippers.

Voices from the factory floor

Five members of Grangetown Local History Society were involved in a project to record the experiences of women who had worked in factories in Wales.

Rita Spinola, Jill Williams and Jan Taylor (pictured above) also attended a presentation at the National Assembly given by the Women's Archive of Wales as part of the Voices from the Factory Floor project.

Their memories will be available eventually online

Anniversary of park opening

Grangetown marked the 120th anniversary of Grange Gardens in June 2015.

The park was a gift to Cardiff in 1894 by Lords Bute and Windsor, who owned the land on which it stands and donated it to Cardiff council. Just over 9,000 square yards belonged to Bute and 5,764 square yards came from the Windsor estate. Cardiff's parks committee had three years earlier approached the two landowners, as they recognised the by now well developed suburb had no proper recreational area.

Members of the history society in Victorian costume for the Festival. Photos: Owen Price

The laying out of the park cost £2,374 and a bandstand was constructed in February 1895 - the first in Cardiff at the time - for the additional cost of £100. However, it was complicated by the fact the wrong foundations were laid for the bandstand. "Grangetown Gardens" - designed by William Pettigrew, the Scottish head gardener to Cardiff Corporation and municipal engineer William Harpur - opened on June 19th 1895 by councillor Joseph Ramsdale, the chairman of the parks committee. "A very large number of the inhabitants of Grangetown" gathered for the ceremony and the mayor proposed a toast to Lord Bute and Lord Windsor. Mr D A Burn's Roath brass band entertained with a selection of tunes. There was also a celebratory dinner later.

The Grangetown Festival marked the actual anniversary with a Victorian picnic and music on Friday 19th June and with a Victorian theme at the parade and fete on the Saturday. The history society has produced a leaflet on its history, which you can download and print off here. Or there is more information on our webpages here.

Pins and dolly mixtures

By Elizabeth Cunningham (nee Carter) aged 93 yrs

When my grandfather moved to Cardiff from Faringdon, Berkshire, he opened a dairy in Grangetown, the trade title "Carter's Dairy". This was when milk was delivered by horse and cart, in large churns. So the necessary stables were built at the back of the dairy for the two horses. There was Polly, I loved, a gentle little black mare; Tommy was a robust carthorse I viewed with a certain trepidation, and just a little pat.

To me the word "Grangetown" is a magic word. It conjures up Thomas Hood's poem Past and Present, which just epitomises this nostalgia. "I remember, I remember, the house where I was born, the little window where the sun came peeping in at morn." My little bedroom window at the top of the house, I could just see the River Taff. I well remember my father lifting me up to see the Taff Swimming Race, I would have been about three years old. A few years later it was transferred to Roath Park Lake.

Then came the Hot Cross Bun man, I do not know whether he visited other districts in Cardiff. He was a very welcome caller in Grangetown, with his chanting "One a penny two a penny hot cross buns," very early every Good Friday in Coedcae Street.

The Marl, a stretch of grass off Corporation Road nearing the Docks where a well known baseball team played. There was one player achieved quite a popular acclaim for his prowess, I cannot remember his name. So sad when I travel down Corporation Road nowadays, it has become a strange thoroughfare. Where are all the shops I knew as a child? One particular bakery, Hollymans, on the corner of Stockland Street and Corporation Road, received a direct bomb in World War II. All the popular Hollyman family were killed, along with a lot of occupants of Stockland Street, who were in the purpose built air-raid shelter Jack Hollyman had built. Tragic day, there is a wall plaque there now commemorating this tragedy. My favourite shop again in Corporation Road, was Mrs McKildrick's sweet emporium where I could spend my penny on my regular favourites "a sherbet sucker and a ha'peth of dolly mixtures, please."

Our little park has its lovely memories too. In the summer we were treated to a brass band performing in the little bandstand, and the popular tennis courts where I learned to play tennis.

That dear, idyllic, Grangetown, gone perhaps, but still alive in the memories of so many of us.

I could not finish this little memoir of Grangetown without mentioning Humphreys, the wonderful draper's shop on the corner of Corporation Road and Penarth Road. If your change warranted one farthing change, that would be given in the shape of a little packet of straight pins, or safety pins, sometimes hairclips. Then the lady who sat in majestic splendour in the middle of the store, on a little dais. From there she would zing your change on a wire back to the counter.

June 2015. Elizabeth has published Wandering Down A Welsh Lane

Russian medal for Harold

Grangetown History Society member Harold Boudier has received a long-awaited medal from Russia for his wartime naval service with the Arctic Convoys.

Harold, 89, now living in Penarth but born in Penhaved Street in Grangetown, was among servicemen who were honoured for helping vital supplies reach Britain's Allies.

The Ushakov medal was awarded to those who brought supplies to northern Russia, despite dangers from German U-boats and ships, and freezing temperatures.

At the ceremony in December in Cardiff's City Hall, counsellor of the Russian Embassy Sergey Nalobin, third secretary Sergey Fedichkin, attache Elizaveta Vokorina and assistant naval attaché Commander Dmitry Sharapov were present, along with First Minister Carwyn Jones and the Lord Mayor Margaret Jones, who expressed gratitude to the nearly 70 veterans from south Wales for their heroic deeds. Speaking on behalf of the Russian Government, Mr Nalobin emphasized the invaluable contribution of the British Arctic convoys veterans for their contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany, pointing out their unprecedented courage and heroism during the war. He underlined that those who took part in the Arctic convoys are respected and remembered in Russia.

Harold's Guernsey-born father George won three medals serving in World War One as a gunner. He was wounded at the Somme in 1916 and taken prisoner of war.

A little bit of old fashioned Style

The society has been donated a photograph of the long-gone London Style Inn, which stood in Lucknow Street until the early 1970s.

The pub was near where St Patrick's RC school is now. All the houses on the street were demolished as part of clearances and made way for the school and grounds. See more on our page for old Grangetown pubs.

Up the Villa

Gareth Williams has sent us a photo of the Grange Villa football team from 1928 - obviously a successful season, as they were cup winners. Gareth's grandfather is seated third frrom the left, his name was George Norman Hall, though everybody knew him as Norman. If you recognise any of your ancestors let us know. Gareth's interest followed a photo of the same club from the 1930s, featured on our sporting history page.

Gardens included on heritage register

Grange Gardens has been recognised for its historic value by being put on a register by historic monuments body Cadw.

Grange Gardens and bowling green, c1900s.

The Victorian park was opened in June 1895 after being gifted to Cardiff by local landowners, Lord Windsor and the Marquis of Bute four years before. The park includes a replica of the original bandstand, a bowls club, modern children's playground and a listed war memorial.

Grange Gardens has now been included on Cadw's Register of Landscapes, Parks and Gardens of Historic Interest in Wales. It was included because it represents a "well-preserved Victorian urban public park that retains much of its original layout" and became the first of Cardiff’s parks to include a bandstand and public tennis courts. Although not the same level of protection as a listed building, it does give the park some status in terms of any future planning application. The park includes the bowling club, which dates from 1906.

Just outside the park on Corporation Road is a wooden shelter, near the bus stop, which could date from Victorian times and is a listed structure.

A short animated film made in 2004 by Jane Hubbard, with the history society and Grangetown Primary School, looks at the history of Grange Gardens.

New archive to research

Arthur and Gladys's children Arthur and Esther (left) and a family wedding - Edward and Dorothy "Dollie" Evans.

As well as the Grangetown at War project, we have a few other ongoing areas of interest:

We have been given a large donation of family archive material relating to the Bryant family, who lived in Grangetown - and also Adamsdown. They included Arthur Leonard Bryant, who played for Adamsdown United RFC in 1912, and moved to Grangetown. He served in the Royal Defence Corps in 1917. Wilfred Henry William Bryant married Alice Matilda Rees in 1912, while Arthur married Gladys M. Evans in 1916. We didn't have details of the family wedding above, but now we have been told it was Edward and Dollie Evans of No 18 Kent Street. Edward Evans was brought up by the Bryant family at 1 Grange Place after his parents died. Their son, Eddie belonged to the Salvation Army and his widow gave us the information after looking at our web page. If any more surviving descendants still live in the area, please get in touch.

This photo is of St Patrick's School in 1926 and was donated by Helen Stradling nee Alexander of Abercynon Street. Click on the photo for full size.

Appeal for Bob Wheeler photos

Bob Wheeler of Kent Street, was an artist and photographer of all things Grangetown. Do you have any of his paintings or photographs?

If so the Grangetown Local History Society would like to hear from you. We managed to discover one of his paintings recently and visited it at Grangetown Primary School, thanks to an invitation by the head teacher. It is a lovely view of the rear of the school depicting the playground and the old boiler house, and the school are still very proud to have it displayed on their wall. The Society also took the opportunity to present the school's head teacher Mandy Paish (pictured right with Zena Mabbs) with a copy of a CD of old photos of the school from our archives.

We are hoping to discover more of Bob's paintings and photographs. Telephone Rita Spinola 02920 345962 or e mail the Society Bob had two sisters Queenie and Ruby. Here are the names of some of his descendants, Diane, Carole, Rosemary, Alan, Sarah, Nicola, Nicholas, Julia, Michael, Charlotte.

Victorian history of Catholic Club

Grangetown Local History Society has received a loan of photos for its archive of some photos reflecting the Catholic history of Grangetown. This wonderful period photo dates from 1896 and is of William and Elizabeth Geddes, steward and stewardess of the Grangetown Catholic Club. William retired from that position after his wife's death in 1900. He was then living at 35 Corporation Road, and also working as a sugar boiler in confectionary. It looks likely that William was in his late 20s, when this photo was taken. His wife died aged only 30 - leaving four children - and William himself died in his early 40s, while a resident in Wedmore Road. They married at St David's RC church in 1891, before setting up home first in Union Street (near the site of the now St Davids shopping centre in the city centre). We also understand that at the time of this photo, the Grangetown Catholic Club was situated on the opposite side of Corporation Road to where it is now. Thanks to Terry Bellew for this photo. William Geddes was from Old Kent Road area of London and Elizabeth is believed to be from a family originating from Cork in Ireland.

Digitised archive passes first milestone

The Grangetown Local History Society has completed the first phase of its project to digitise its archive.

Court Road School in 1909. The old school, which closed and was demolished in the early 1970s, stood where Courtmead Gardens now stands. Photo kindly donated by Terry Harris.

It has a large collection of old photos of people and places in Grangetown going back more than a century and has now worked through the first 1,000 images, with members giving up many hours at weekends to complete this part of the project. The society was awarded a grant by the Communities First Trust Fund to enable them to start the archiving. This is a scheme funded by the Welsh Government and administered by WCVA. The fundingl enabled the society to have 1,000 items scanned and saved to CDs, thus ensuring the availability of this material for future generations.

Copies are being presented of CDs to St Paul's Church-in-Wales Primary School and the captain of the Salvation Army in Grangetown.

Pictured above is a splendid photo, donated to the society by Terry Harris, of Court Road School in about 1909. This will be among the next phase of photographs to be digitised.

The Society also already gives presentations and displays via its projector and computer, and there are already a selection of our archive on the society's website and on the Grangetown community website giving a history of the area online.

As well as selection, the photos needed to be properly recorded and labelled before scanning. Thanks must be expressed to the stalwarts of the society for giving of their own time to help out. We always welcome new additions to the archive - and are happy to scan and return photos after use.

School days at the end of the war

Grangetown Local History Society - and the website - are grateful for new inclusions for its archive, which is growing year-on-year and is gradually being digitised.

This latest image is from Robert Parker (picture third from the right, front row). It's of the Grange Council School in 1945. Do you recognise anyone in the photo? Perhaps it was you or a relative. Let us know.

Boxing in the back street

Another image is Harry Lewis (born 1906) who was a champion walker and lived in Clive Street. He will be featured in the next book by Grangetown Local History Society, but here is a taster - a photo of him working for Currans, and also pictured with the local boxing club he ran from the garage of his house - here he is with the boys in Clive Street lane.

Curran's wartime factory - at work and play

Curran's Sports Day in the Curran's Field off Penarth Road, c1945-46. The woman on the left in the white shorts is Gerald's grandmother Bessie Fish, and the woman running on the right is his mother Ivy Escott. One of his memories of the sports day was buying a Lyons fruit pie, then square in shape, from the marquee.

The photo on the right is the Curran's factory girls during World War Two, with Bessie Fish again in the back row (second right). Carolyn Wood writes that the girl in the back row, fourth from the right is her late mother Louise (Lou) Orum (later Candy.) The photo would date from after June 1944, as Lou did not arrive in Cardiff until then, having lived in London. She would have probably have had a transfer from one of the London munition factories, where she worked in them from the age of 14 in October 1939. She worked at Curran's for a number of years (travelling from Richmond Rd and then Llandaff North). It was not a nice job, but apparently the pay was good. © Photos: Gerald Escott.

More Grangetown memories

Margaret and Bob Stevens (pictured with Bobby in about 1908)

Margaret and Bob Stevens were both were passionate supporters of the Labour Party and in 1945 Margaret helped a young, impoverished candidate by turning his shirt cuffs. He won the election and was MP for Cardiff South for over 30 years, his name - Jim Callaghan.

Bob worked on the docks all his life and was always heavily involved in local politics. He became a shop steward and fought for better conditions for the dockers and at election time the whole family would be in the Labour Party rooms printing leaflets and making up the boards for the kids to parade around the streets.

He also loved his allotment where he grew enough vegetables for the family and also half of Hewell Street! Bob was also very knowledgeable about herbs and their uses. He would regularly make up mixtures for the people of lower Grangetown and story has it that he once cured a young girl of St Vitus Dance!

Material submitted by Pauline Stevens and are featured in the third volume of Grangetown memories, published by Grangetown Local History Society in 2013

1951: Party time in Earl Street

We have been donated a picture of some "glamour gals" at a Festival of Britain Party in 1951 in Earl Street. We now have most of the names: Back Row: ? Mrs Nicholas Gainey ?Sarah Letton (3rd in) Shirley Barnett Marion Nicholas Middle Row: ? Mrs. Coombes Mrs. Attwell Mrs. Rees, Cook Mrs. Dodds, Mrs. Olsen, Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Barnett, Mrs. Buley ? ? Front Row: Mrs. Thorne ? Dollie Stevens Mr Freeman Mr Coombs. Does anyone recognise any we've missed? Let us know if you do.

Six brothers who served their country

The brothers in uniform at their father's funeral in 1915 - back row left to right Ted, Sidney, Frank, John, Tom; front row left to right, Bill, Charles, mother Jane, Ellen, Dolly.

This family photograph shows six Grangetown brothers in uniform. Sadly the Boalch siblings were back home at 38 Knole Street for the funeral of father Frank in 1915.

It wasn't the last family funeral, although all six survived the course of the war. The family story is that one died of shellshock and another was gassed and died of his injuries. These were too late to be counted as dying on active service or to be included on the memorial but they paint a picture of the effects of war.

The six included boy Sidney, a docks labourer who served with the South Wales Borderers. His Army records showed he'd suffered from malaria during the war in Salonika. The family story is that he had been gassed. He died aged 38 in 1927 leaving three children. But his younger brother Tom had already died aged just 24 in 1922 from the effects of shellshock. He fought at Mametz Wood. Brothers Frank (Royal Field Artillery, a barman by trade), Edward (a brakeman) and John (labourer) also served in the Army, while Charles was a stoker in the Royal Navy from before the war and served more than 20 years. Their niece Joan says sadly their young sister Dolly died of TB aged 12. Mother Jane was quite a character and lived to the age of 86. She grew her own vegetables, kept chickens and made her own herb beer - which was a popular local brew which she sold from the door!

These days, we're more used to just getting in the car and heading off to the coast or country.

Back in the post-war 1940s and 1950s, summer days out were more communal, with outings by works and church groups, and even for whole streets to make a date of it on a "chara". Grangetown was not short of them or coach companies who provided the transport. This photo, provided by Ann Williams from around 1950, shows a street trip from Court Road in Saltmead. If you can add more names, let us know. They include: Aunty Florrie Cook; Auntie Edie Snell; Auntie Lizzie; Aunty Joan Cummings; Aunty Mary Gore Raymond; Roger Gore ; Doreen Cook

SOME MARL MEMORIES by Gerald Holdham, then of Channel View Road

Going back in the 1950-60s there were quite a lot of gamblers from around lower Grangetown and the Docks, and in the 1950's and early 1960's they had street bookies. A lot of people used to like to bet on horses. It was late in the 1960s that they opened betting shops that were legal so that was the end of the street bookie.

I used to play snooker up the Stute (in Earl Street lane) and we would play for money, I was a good player so I nearly always won. Then on a Saturday and a Sunday in the summer, we would go over the Marl by Bowles where the boat used to drop the sand, and we would play pitch-and-toss. We played with old money at the time old half-crowns old ten bob notes, old pound notes and old five pound notes. We used to start playing about dinner time and finish sometimes late in the night.

A player would bet on his two coins hoping to head his two coins and if he headed them again he would double up his bet until he tailed his two coins, then he was out of the game. Then somebody else would have a go and if he kept on heading them there would be a big pot of money on the floor. And if they kept heading they would all get skint and that was the end of the game.

So this certain person what he did years ago, he said to the gamblers "The first one to strip and run around the Marl, the first one back will have the money that I have left on the floor." So they went running around the Marl with nothing on! I used to live in Channel View Road which was right in front of the Marl so when the women in that street saw what was going on they phoned the Police who came out on their bikes. And the police said to the women I can't catch them - after all they are only after their beer money.

My mate and I used to go to Newport dogs on a Friday and Cardiff dogs on a Saturday it was a great night out. I would like to say my mate was one of the best bookmakers in Cardiff - a Grangetown boy; unfortunately, he got killed a few years ago. He will be sadly missed.

A Saltmead church long gone

The history society have been given some old photos of a church which used to be a feature of North Grangetown. St Barnabas Church was in Maitland Place, where a flats development now stands. The small Church-in-Wales church was a small hall. Our secretary Ian Clarke has been doing some research, and it appears the church was in use from around 1923 until about 1960. If anyone has any memories of the church, please let us know.

Drying tonight. Do you remember this?

Have you any memories of the Crystal Laundry?

The old building in Redlaver Street was demolished in 2002 and is now flats. It's thought to have been open until the mid 1980s.

Rita Chaplin (nee Jones) Adelaide, South Australia (pictured above - to the left).

When I worked in the Crystal Laundry in the late 1950s my job was standing all day, sorting clothes that had been washed. You had to hold them under a blue light to see the numbers and names and then put them into racks. The racks where the clothes were put were like little wooden boxes and each box had a different number. It was noisy in there and we didn't talk much because we had to concentrate on the numbers and make sure we put them in the right hole. It was very steamy with all the usual smells of wet clothes drying. I remember the long, long rollers which used to roll the wet sheets through, steam everywhere. People who used to stand and catch the sheets coming out dry had to be quick otherwise the tips of their fingers would get burned. My mother, Iris Jones nee Davies (pictured on the right) also worked there; she was a "champion" ironer doing all the shirts and when they were finished and folded they looked like a brand new shirt you had just bought from the shop. She also used to iron all the "special" stuff like ladies petticoats and underwear. At home Dad's shirts were always displayed in a similar fashion. Wasn't he lucky!

Rita StevensRita Spinola nee Stevens, Llanmaes Street, Grangetown

In 1954 I went to work in the Crystal Laundry, I had just left school at the age of 15. I think the boss there at the time was a Mr. Yendle. I worked 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and as far as I can remember the pay was £2.10s.0d a week. I worked on shirts. There was this long metal sleeve which was hot, so you put the sleeve over it to get the creases out and then someone else would press the rest of the shirt with the steamer. I also learned how to fold shirts - you had to make sure there was a three finger space between the collar and the fold.

I also worked on a machine called a calender - I liked that as you just stood there and held the end of the sheet and fed it in. The only thing I didn't like was the smell, but you soon got used to it. Before going there I had put my name down on the waiting list for the Horrockes' Factory (Peggy Ann) and when a vacancy came up there I left the Crystal Laundry, so I didn't work in the laundry for very long.

Did you work there? Email us

SEARCHING OUT HER ANCESTORS Jan Lucocq came along to our March meeting look at the MILDON ARCHIVE and met Steven and Sid who are descendants from the Grangetown builder Samuel Mildon - (pictured above right) and they had a long chat about their common ancestors and looked at all the interesting material which has been donated to our archive by Steven and Sid over the years. Pictured above left to right are Sid, Steve and Jan. Jan also congratulated us on our "excellent web page with so much information freely available."

Ann (nee Williams) and Brian Davies brought along some interesting photographs of street parties in Allerton Street. Above is Ann pictured at work in Freeman's Cigar Factory. Ann also brought a photo subsequently of Court Road School in the 1940s, which is pictured below. Here are a few names - if anyone can fill in the gaps, let us know: Teacher: Miss Rees. Top Row: Dawn Stuart, Rita Rowlands, Silvia, Kathleen Condran, Pat Rowlands, June Selio, June Steel. Second row from left: ? ?, Pat Barry, Kathleen Johnson ? Valerie White ? Olive Watkins Jannete Zat. Bottom row from left: Laura Williams ? Jean Gerrade, Ann Williams, Pat McConkey, Bebe Gibson.

Court Road School. Click for the full size photo.

© Grangetown Local History Society 2019. Updated March 3rd