This is a community website for Grangetown in Cardiff, highlighting people, business, community activities, local news and things to do in the area and linking other websites and blogs.

We live locally; this is a voluntary project - in connection with Grangetown Community Action - free and independent. We are the online presence of the long-running Grange News community paper, which has been distributed to 6,000 local homes every four months for more than 35 years.

E-mail us on grangetowncardiff@yahoo.co.uk if you'd like to help, are local or would like to send any contributions for inclusion. Also if you'd like to be included FREE in our DIRECTORY,

You can also follow us on Twitter @grangecardiff and look for Grangetown Community Action on Facebook. We have a growing number of followers and are keen to encourage a social network to promote Grangetown community events, activities, issues, businesses and organisations.

School marks improvement out of the red

Ninian Park Primary School has jumped two stages in Wales' annual school ratings, after efforts to turn around performance.

It was classed in the "red" category a year ago, as a school needing the greatest amount of support. But with new governors in place and new head Jennifer Scott - who was brought in as acting head from a job in Coventry - taking up her post permanently last summer, Ninian Park in Virgil Street has moved up into the "yellow" category.

It is one of only six primary schools in Wales to make a similar leap.

"We are all thrilled at the progress the school has made in the categorisation system," said the school.

Nearly 92% of seven-year-olds reach the expected core level in indicators and other benchmarking includes 93% attendance and 84.8% of youngest pupils reaching the expected level in the foundation phase.

The school, which has 550 pupils, is very diverse with around 89% speaking English as an additional language.

In addition, Fitzalan High School remains in the very top green category, along with St Paul's Church in Wales Primary; while St Patrick's moved from amber to yellow, while Grangetown Primary remains in yellow. BBC Wales report with links to ratings.

School consults on nursery unit

St Paul's Church in Wales Primary School is consulting on plans to build a nursery unit for 32 children on its site.

Public meetings were arranged, with the governors saying it would be an "eco-nursery" for children from the age of three and also include provision for a skills centre which could have wider community benefits.

As for the effect on other local schools, the consultation document says: "Whilst the proposal would increase the number of nursery places available in the local area it is not expected that the number of pupils on roll at others schools would be affected as the number of children in the Grangetown area would still exceed the number of places available."

The nursery entrance would be in Clive Street, while the proposals say most children would walk to the nursery and it would not add to traffic congestion.

Local people were invited to drop in to the school to discuss the proposals with governors and staff at two sessions in February.

They can also give their views by downloading the consultation document here and posting responses back to the school by March 13th or emailing stpaulsprm@cardiff.gov.uk.

The outcome of the formal consultation - which also includes the diocese and other organisations - will decide whether the school's governors then proceed to the next stage.

Drop-in for local cycling routes proposals


Click on the image above for the full route map

Plans for more cycling routes in the Grangetown area and across the city were showcased at a public consultation event at Grangetown Hub.

The proposed route map for cyclists and pedestrians was on show, with a chance for people to give their views to Cardiff Council officials.

The aim is to get at least half of daily journeys to be made by cycling, walking or public transport within the next four years and for that to rise to 60% by 2026.

It comes with growing frustration with traffic congestion in the city, with a major headache ahead as Cardiff is forecast to be one of the UK's fastest growing cities over the next 20 years and with no imminent signs of the south Wales Metro appearing.

The Greener Grangetown work on the Taff Embankment already aims to make improvements along the Taff Trail route for cyclists. The proposals include traffic calming and crossing improvements and also what appears to be the previously-mooted new cycling/pedestrian bridge over the Taff to link up with the planned enterprise zone and Dumballs Road developments.

At the moment, only 9.2% cycle to work in Cardiff but it is estimated most people are within a 20 minute commuting distance by bike. The council wants to double the numbers on two wheels. At the moment, only 9.2% cycle to work in Cardiff but it is estimated most people are within a 20 minute commuting distance by bike. The council wants to double the numbers on two wheels.

Councillor Ramesh Patel, cabinet member for traffic, transport and sustainability, dropped in on the meeting to answer questons and also said the council was committed to rolling out 20mph limits on streets near where children went to school - although not main roads.

He said: "There is no doubt that are too many cars on our roads and plans have to be put in place to encourage people to leave their cars at home.

"We have to ensure that alternatives to the private car are attractive and viable for everyone."

The council is after views on its plans and how they link up with existing cycle routes and lanes.

"Those who already cycle in the city will be well placed to give their feedback. However, we are very keen to hear from people who don’t currently cycle as encouraging more people to take up cycling is a key objective of this strategy," said Mr Patel.

Read more about the consultation here

Flats plan for wallpaper store

Plans have been unveiled to build flats on the site of a long-established Grangetown wallpaper and decorating store.

FA Jones in Penarth Road is closing after more than 65 years, with the sons of founder Frederick Jones retiring. A closing down sale started in the last few days, with the property having being on the market for some months.

The building looks set to be demolished to make way for 19 one and two-bedroomed flats – and a ground floor shop. Developers J G Hale Construction want to to build 13 one bedroomed “affordable” flats, two flats for disabled people and four two-bedroomed flats on three floors.

The development for Taff Housing also makes use of a rear coach house.

The store had been extended over the years and one part of the existing building is Victorian with quite distinctive window arches.

The Neath-based developers say in their planning document: "Although the existing building on the corner of North Street with Penarth Road is recognised as having some quality and architectural merit, there is nothing on site that it is considered of sufficient quality to require its retention, thus it is considered that total demolition and rebuilding of the site is appropriate."

The plans do not include parking places, with the developers saying public transport is nearby and it was in an "inherently excellent sustainable location." They said that the "zero parking provision" principle was accepted in discussions with planning officials.

Councillor Lynda Thorne has asked local residents with comments and views on the plans to contact her. Email: Lynda.Thorne@cardiff.gov.uk


Make volunteering a resolution for 2017 - Grangetown Community Action's 40th year


Members of Keep Grangetown Tidy make their pledges to continue litter picking in 2017.

Grangetown residents are being asked to make volunteering a New Year's resolution - and pledge to do something for their community in 2017.

It is the 40th anniversary of Grangetown Community Action - previously Grangetown Community Concern - and there will be an expanded programme of events and activities local people of all ages can get involved in.

Among projects will be a bumper, new-look Grangetown Festival and Carnival Week in June; a voluntary group is being set up to help organise an occasional street market; Keep Grangetown Tidy moves into its third year of monthly litter-picks; Grangetown News has a group of writers, photographers and deliverers but still needs people - including those interested in helping with advertising for the long-established community newspaper.

More one-off events and projects will also follow during the year - but we're looking for people who will just pledge to do something in 2017 - share with us a New Year's resolution to make Grangetown a better place, using the #LoveGrangetown hashtag.

It might become involved in one of the projects above - or something else, learn a new skill or take on a new challenge; or something you'd like to do in a small way in your own street.

Let us know - you can Tweet us on @grangecardiff or leave a message on our Facebook page with the hashtag #LoveGrangetown. You can download this pledge poster here and send us a photo or email it back; or email grangetowncardiff@yahoo.co.uk.

We'll be posting pledges as they come in during the New Year!

Ashley Lister, chair of Grangetown Community Action, makes personal and community pledges, along with Fiona McAllister.


Pledges too have come in from Grangetown Food Bank, community staff at Asda in Ferry Road, who include Grangetown-based workers, and South Wales Police serving Grangetown. Click on the photos for larger images.


Tributes to former long-serving Grangetown councillor

The funeral took place on Friday of John Smith, a former Lord Mayor of Cardiff and a Grangetown councillor for more than 30 years, who died just after Christmas.

Mr Smith, 82, a former steelworker and shop steward, became a Labour councillor in 1972 and served Grangetown until 2004, when he had been the city's longest serving councillor. He was Lord Mayor in 1990 - following in the footsteps of another former Grangetown councillor Philip Dunleavy - and was also the first presiding officer of the council.

He was until recent years an active member of Grangetown Community Concern and was a regular campaigner for local causes and heritage - including trying to save the old Redhouse pub off Ferry Road in 2004.

Mr Smith was never afraid to speak up for the area or for issues including housing, which he cared passionately about. He became a councillor at the age of 37. He was a regular correspondent to the Echo's letters pages, never short of an opinion but also very kind and cheery for those who ever had to deal with him.


John Smith as Lord Mayor during a Grangetown festival parade

At his last election in 1999 he topped the ward poll with 1,859 votes. Back in 2002, when he marked three decades as a councillor he remarked about what he saw as growing centralisation inside the authority.

"Many of the bright younger councillors are openly saying they are not going to stand again because they are not involved," he said.

"They should be. It is so important that you have a good balance of people, including those from today's generation. A small group making decisions is not always right. I don't want to end up with a city run by a few just as in America. I don't think America is the best example of what a society should be."

Mr Smith had been widowed with a son but his long term partner was Trowbridge ward councillor and current Lord Mayor, Monica Walsh.

Former colleague Councillor Lynda Thorne said: "Without John's support and encouragement I would never have stood as a councillor. He worked tirelessly for Grangetown and the whole city."

Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty called it "very sad news," while council leader Phil Bale said Mr Smith had made a "considerable contribution" to the city and Grangetown.

He recorded his memories for Grangetown Local History's oral archive. He told them about both his Docks and Grangetown roots: "I was born at the Pier Head my real name is Frederick John Smith but I prefer to be known as John.  My great-grandfather ran the Empress Eugenie (a pub in Evelyn Street), my grandfather was a Grangetown man and ran the Cornish Mount off Bute Street, he had a house in Taff Mead Embankment in about 1905.  My mother was an O'Brien, they lived in Grange Gardens."

A funeral mass took take place at St Patrick's Church on Friday 20th January.

Low park and ride figures add to congestion worries

As few as 85 cars on average are using the park and ride at Cardiff City Stadium on a normal weekday, figures show.

This is barely 10% of the capacity of the 820-space facility, which has seen a drop in revenue for the last three years.

It comes with concern growing in Grangetown about increased traffic congestion and parking pressures from commuters and shoppers using residential streets.

Grangetown Community Action asked Cardiff City Stadium – which owns and manages Cardiff West park and ride – for figures, which when calculated show the low usage and a slight drop in each of the last three years.

Stadium officials called it “disappointing considering it’s an excellent service.”

Meanwhile, the council-run Cardiff East park and ride at Pentwyn – which cost £4m when it opened in 2009 – is averaging 232 cars a day this year. This is less than a quarter of capacity – and a 41% drop on the number of cars using it four years ago.

These figures were provided to us after a Freedom of Information request.

The council is currently consulting on its city transport strategy – setting out how to deal with rising travel demands as the city grows. Already 80,000 people commute into Cardiff from outside the city every day – 80% of them by car.

As well as the proposed Metro and improved cycling, the document outlines a potential £5m park and ride at junction 33 of the M4 in Cardiff North to take the strain of motorists commuting from the south Wales valleys and the A470.

Grangetown councillors have responded to our park and ride figures by calling for a campaign – including possible incentives – to get more drivers to park and use the bus instead.

“We need to find out from commuters why they are not using them and what if required we can do to make it a more attractive option,” said Labour councillor Lynda Thorne.

“I believe Highways already manage traffic lights along certain routes to try to dissuade people from using certain roads. But we need to do much more so that communities like ours are not used as parking lots.”

Plaid Cymru councillor Tariq Awan also said he was “very disappointed” to learn about the park and ride figures, adding that parking was a “big menace” to Grangetown residents and was something he witnessed daily.

And with a particular message in days ahead, he added: “I would request all shoppers respect residents’ parking needs and utilise the park and ride services being provided as much as possible.”

Cardiff West’s best month over the last three years was in December 2014 when around 200 cars a day used it. The quietest month was April 2015 when only 44 cars a day used the facility.

Both councillors called for better publicity for park and ride facilities – including on local websites and social media.

Councillor Thorne added: “We need a focused campaign for at least six months with the Council working with business to come forward with ideas to make the park and ride a more attractive option – perhaps providing some sort of incentive, while at the same time putting more resources into parking offences and the we need to have a really high profile marketing campaign.

“It’s all about changing people’s habits and ensuring what’s on offer is as good as if not better than their current practice.”

Cardiff West charges £4 per single driver or £5 for a group with No 95 buses to Canal Street in the city centre running every 15 minutes from 8.24am to 6pm. More details here.

The Cardiff East facility charges a cheaper early bird fare, for those parking up before 8.30am, with the last bus back from Churchill Way at 7.30pm. More details here.

Talking point: Parking in Grangetown

Cardiff Council: Have your say on transport strategy

 Cinema returns to Grangetown after 45 year gap

Nearly 45 years after the last cinema closed in Grangetown – a new one has opened in time for Christmas.

With 40 airline seats, The Tramshed complex is offering a boutique cinema experience – but with the emphasis on comfort.

This is no economy class though – there’s plenty of leg room, trays for your drinks – and probably no other screen on terra firma has big leather seats straight out of an aircraft still with signs for lifejackets under seats!

The sound quality was excellent too on our visit.

The programme unveiled so far has some Christmas favourites, as well as David Lynch’s classic Blue Velvet, the new documentary on The Stooges – Gimme Danger; the really charming and unusual indie offering Paterson (please see this if you get the chance when it’s next on, on Wednesday – it’s delightful!) and coming up the Star Wars spin-off Rogue One.

This mix of new art-house releases, documentaries, classics and big box office draws could offer an alternative to the main city centre screens – and something only Chapter is offering a couple of miles away.

Tickets can be bought from the Waiting Room bar or booked online and tickets printed off. Seats were £5.50 each for adults, so pretty competitively priced – hope this continues!

It’s the latest development as part of the ongoing Tramshed development, which is expected to eventually include a gallery, dance studio and restaurant.

Tramshed's cinema is a far cry from the old Ninian Cinema in Penarth Road, which closed in January 1972 – with the Alistair McLean film Puppet On A Chain the final film.

The 500-seat cinema was notoriously cramped. Opened in 1914, it showed newsreels from the western front in World War One, while film-goers were asked to leave in January 1941 during Grangetown’s big wartime air-raid.

The late local councillor Philip Dunleavy at the time, recalled “The Bughouse,” as many flea-pits were called, as a haven of escape.

“When I was a boy we used to love the shows with cowboy heroes like Buck Jones and Tom Mix,” he told the Echo after its closure. “During the depression is was something of a Grangetown institution; somewhere people could go to keep warm.”

The building – with its distinctive iron, barreled roof at the rear – became a short-lived bingo hall, a post office and a bathroom store, then it was at one time to be turned into a Wetherspoon’s pub before plans were turned down.

More recently it has been a clothing store – and has now been refurbished to become an Islamic centre and school.

See Tramshed.com for more details and follow @WaitingRoomCF and @TramshedCF on Twitter or on Facebook

Plans go forward for new school building

Plans for the new Welsh medium primary school building for Butetown and Grangetown have gone to Cardiff Council.

The first year class at Ysgol Hamadryad started in September at temporary classrooms on the Ninian Park primary site in Virgil Street.

The new school is due to be build on land behind the old Hamadryad Hospital and next to Hamadryad Park in time for next September.

The plans have now gone forward by architects Stride Treglown, on behalf of builders Morgan Sindall and Cardiff Council.

Two residents have objected, concerned about parking and traffic issues in an already congested area, as well as the impact during building work.

The application says a school safety zone with “keep clear” markings would be introduced, and a “park and walk” policy encouraged for pupils and parents. It says problems from pile driving on nearby homes were “unlikely”.

The details of the plans include: