SHORTLISTED FOR COMMUNITY NEWS AWARD 2019 - WALES MEDIA AWARDS

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 40 years.

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Pavilion project gets £100,000 donation

The fund-raising effort towards the Grangetown Pavilion has been given a major boost, thanks to a £100,000 donation from a charitable organisation.

The Moondance Foundation was set up by the founder and former chief executive of Cardiff-based Admiral insurance Henry Engelhardt and his wife Diane.

It is committed to supporting a variety of good causes, including community development, anti-poverty and education and was contacted by the new community trust, which will eventually run the Pavilion before Christmas.

"We were delighted to hear in February that the Moondance Trustees had agreed a donation of £100,000 and were ecstatic when the cheque arrived in the post shortly after," said a spokeswoman for Grange Pavilion Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

"This is the first successful funding application for the Grange Pavilion CIO and will prove an excellent foundation for other applications to help close the £250,000 funding gap and help us reach our target of £1.6m."

The news comes within days of the old bowls pavilion being demolished, ahead of building work on the new £1.6m community venue, which will take about a year.

The project, when complete, will include:

The project has already received major Big Lottery funding, as well as support from the likes of the Garfield Weston Foundation, Asda Foundation and Cardiff Bay Rotary Club.

Developers seek to justify flats height

Developers behind controversial plans for 74 flats off Penarth Road close to the River Taff have submitted more details aiming to justify the height.

Dozens of residents in the Pentre Gardens have objected to the Bottleworks proposals, on the old Track 2000 site, saying it is too tall, out of character for the area and will affect the privacy of some homes backing onto it.

Rightacres have now added more detailed arguments, including that the flats would not affect the sunlight to residents in Pentre Gardens. The developer added that planning officers "were not overly concerned about height in the corner location on the junction of Penarth Road and Taffs Mead Embankment, in fact they hypothesised that the development could go higher here."

It claims the height has been "reduced significantly" during the design process. "The reason for this document is that further reductions in height below where the design currently would render the project unviable, and officers, appreciating this, invited the applicant to justify their position. The document does this."

Residents had a final deadline of 21st February to send any additional responses to the latest submissions.

Meanwhile Cardiff South and Penarth AM Vaughan Gething and MP Stephen Doughty have both sent letters of objection, warning of traffic issues and the development being out of character for the area. Local councillors Ashley Lister and Lynda Thorne have also objected, saying despite the scale of the development being reduced it was still "significantly more imposing" than surrounding properties.

The planning committee will hold a site visit before deciding on the proposals, which have been called a "stepping stone" development by Rightacres. This phrase itself has been greeted with some alarm locally, at what it could mean for future developments and the character of the area.

Campaigners opposed to the development say the latest submission does not reduce the height or change the character of the development, while the number of trees proposed as part of landscaping appears to have been reduced. They will be given an opportunity to speak to the planning committee, along with the two local councillors. A deadline of 21 February has been given for final comments.

Residents also brought in an independent planning consultant, who in a submission said the application was invalid and there were "serious concerns with the level and quality of information submitted to support the proposal." She also said that the five-storey buikding would be more than double the height of nearby homes, and should be counted as a "tall building" under planning rules for a residential area and the proposals rejected in their current form.

You can read more here

Concern over bus changes for estate

Cuts to bus services serving Channel View estate are going ahead, despite Grangetown councillors saying they would be "not acceptable".

The company is looking to cut 12 routes to save money, including the 9a no longer serving Channel View Road and the estate from the start of April, although they would still run along Clive Street and Ferry Road.

The councillors say the estate is home to 1,500 people, including many elderly residents in the 13-storey tower block. The 9a has a turning circle at the estate currently, which is also close to Windor Quay flats.

"These residents will be left with no bus service at all within easy walking distances," say councillors Lynda Thorne, Ashley Lister and Abdul Sattar, in their letter to Cynthia Ogbonna, Cardif Bus's managing director.

"We are imploring you to review this decison by either removing it from the services withdrawn or to review other services to the area - to include pick up and drop off points to this community."

They have also called on Cardiff Bus to provide evidence that the route is not viable and to show what has been done to encourage use of the route.

Meanwhile, fares were increased from Sunday 3rd February, which means a single to or from Grangetown is now £2 or £1.20 for a short hop - up from £1 - for an adult. Day savers will be £4 - £3.80 if bought via the app.

Fitzalan school plans moving closer

This is what the new Fitzalan High School could look like - with hopes it could be open for the start of the 2022 academic year.

Councillors are looking at the proposals at the moment, which would see new buildings and sports facilities built opposite the existing school, close to the Cardiff Athletics Stadium.

The old school buildings would be demolished once the new development, off Lawrenny Avenue, is ready to move into and the site is expected to be turned into an open space.

There has already been a consultation exercise but the final details and designs, including the planning application, are still to be finalised.

As well as a larger sixth form, the proposals include a new swimming pool, games areas and 3G football and rugby pitches, which would be available for the whole community.

The project was looked at by a srutiny committee this week and is expected to go to the council's cabinet later this month for a decision to move forward.

The school has set out what it hopes will be an "inspirational learning environment" for 1,500 pupils. The assistant head said: "We are incredibly excited at the prospect of a new Fitzalan being developed across from our existing facility. We hope that this new school will provide an inspirational environment for our pupils for generations to come. It has been great to already witness the enthusiasm and positivity that the announcement has created and seeing the pupils already engage with the process has been fantastic."

Some pupils in a survey have expressed worries about journey times, traffic and pedestrian crossings to get to the new buildings, while local residents have raised issues of noise, loss of privacy, light pollution and the potential for a negative impact on house prices.

Historic day for new Welsh school

Ysgol Hamadryad - the first Welsh medium school for Grangetown pupils - has finally opened in January.

The new building, overlooking Hamadryad Park, just across the River Taff in Butetown, has been taking shape for more than a year. The first pupils with head teacher Rhian Carbis started in temporary accommodation at the Ninian Park school site until the new facilities were ready.

Diwrnod Cyntaf yn ein hysgol newydd sbon danlli / First Day in our brand new school 09/01/19 pic.twitter.com/cYDkA0WaDN

— Ysgol Hamadryad ?????????????? (@YsgolHamadryad) January 9, 2019

The school's journey has been a long one, and not without its obstacles, as there was a long, drawn-out process in finding a suitable site. Campaigners fought for the school to finally be built.

Mrs Carbis was presented with the keys to the school’s new building by contractors Morgan Sindall before the Christmas break in December – on time and on budget.

Dog walkers and football players alike would have seen the Welsh medium school taking shape at the north end of Hamadryad Park in Butetown for many months.

The school, which will take pupils from Grangetown and Butetown, has been funded as part of the 21st Century Schools scheme by the Welsh Government.

It will become a focal point for community activities. In time, 420 pupils will be housed at the school. It will also offer nursery provision – with places available for entry in both January and April 2019.

It also aims to be one of the most sustainable schools in Cardiff – with pupils walking, scooting or biking to the school – and there’s plenty of bike and scooter storage on site.

There’s also a ‘Tren Traed’ – literally a "foot train", where parents can drop children at the Havannah St car park and join staff on the walk to school.

Angor cadarn cyn hwylio’r don / A secure anchor before setting sail pic.twitter.com/dWS93g12FB

— Ysgol Hamadryad ?????????????? (@YsgolHamadryad) January 9, 2019

Once they arrive, one of the features of the playground is the Ysgol Hamadryad Boat (see above). This is a climbing frame in the shape of a boat – celebrating the history of the site as the location for the Hamadryad hospital ship.

Ysgol Hamadryad will serve as a community school for both Grangetown and Butetown. The school already has more than 100 pupils and celebrates the fact that there are 17 different languages spoken by parents and children.

Residents campaign against 'overbearing' flats plans

Dozens of residents have objected to proposals to build 74 flats on the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Track 2000 site off Penarth Road.

Although the height has been reduced down to a maximum six storeys and the number of flats dropped by 12, residents are still unhappy about the height, traffic congestion and the Bottleworks building not blending in with Edwardian properties.

A petition was launched, ahead of the deadline for objections on December 13th and 84 comments were also received.

Residents also engaged planning experts to argue about loss of light to some properties in Pentre Gardens.

Meanwhile, Cardiff Civic Society has also objected, calling it "overbearing" and "unsympathetic to the area." It bemoans the lack of meaningful planting and green space. Chair Nerys Lloyd-Pierce adds: "We can surely do better than this in the 21st century."

Residents say they are not opposed to any development – but want something smaller in scale and more in keeping. They have pointed to more modest developments on the old Inn on the River and FA Jones sites.

Rightacres believe their plans are a “stepping stone” which “ticks boxes in respect of the sustainable and regeneration initiatives.”

The number of parking places have been increased to 57, mostly in a basement carpark, but campaigners believe it could mean 148 extra vehicles using Pentre Gardens. They have dubbed the planned building “Bottleneck”.

Local councillors Ashley Lister and Lynda Thorne have also expressed their concerns and attended a packed public meeting during an earlier consulation phase. Assembly member Neil McEvoy has added his objection, saying the building "will dominate the immediate skyline."

Residents were unhappy the developers refused a meeting after their final plans were submitted. “We’re not against change, but really feel that Grangetown is disappearing and being swallowed up by city centre developments, like Central Square which is now dominated by huge buildings, with more to be developed,” long-time residents Annette and Edward Woodyatt told Grangetown News

Another Jan Birch told us: “New housing in Grangetown should be family friendly. In Grangetown we have schools and parks and play areas fit for kids and extended families, and they are all well used. The new development, as I understand it, is completely at odds with this.”

Another resident in his objection said: "I have watched some changes over 27 years I've lived in Pentre Gardens but nothing comes as close as this - I mean you might as well build a prison wall around us."

With an eye to the forthcoming Central Quay brewery development, as far as the river bank opposite, many residents are expressing worries that this latest proposal is a step too far.

“Grangetown has been historically separated by the natural boundary of the Taff,” said another resident, Simon Newman.

He worries that “mediocre” flats developments in the city centre were in danger of “creeping” across the river.

He said the main front of the Bottleworks would look towards Central Quay “with which it evidently identifies.” He added: “In doing so, this development self consciously turns it’s back on the residential community upon which it is being imposed.”

Residents will take their case to the planning committee in the New Year.

Bottleworks Wharf would be named after a bottle works which was once near to the site and involve a mix of one-bedroom and two bedroom rented flats. The developers say it would continue "ongoing regeneration" and provide a "much needed housing option in a highly sustainable location close to the city centre."

A 12-storey block of apartments had originally been suggested but this is thought to have been an opening bargaining position which was reduced after initial consultation with council officials and also concerns from local residents.

At a pre-planning consultation public meeting, Councillor Lynda Thorne said it was important for residents to focus on planning grounds to their objections and not let emotions get in the way.

She said it was unlikely the proposal could be defeated on the issue of parking - given current guidelines - but there were other objections such as the height of the proposed building and for the design to be more in keeping with homes around it.

Some residents said the development marked a "tipping point" for Grangetown, with worries about overcrowding.

There was also some derision for the attempt to design a warehouse look and call it a "wharf."


A packed meeting - residents had to be moved to a bigger room and it was still standing room only.

Before the plans eventually go to the council committee, residents will take up an offer from the developer of a contribution towards hiring an independent planning expert. A site meeting is also expected to be held before any decision is taken.

Reaction from local residents so far includes:

The developers will be arguing that in scale it will be a "mirror image" of the Unity student flats which were built 10 years ago on the site of the old Avana Bakery in Pendyris Street, a quarter of a mile away. Residents were reminded at the meeting that the student development was reduced in size after objections. They are worried this will have more visual impact - and also signal a step-change in the size of developments crossing over into Grangetown.

The development would include 41 parking spaces - 20 within a basement - and 90 cycle stands. Residents are worried though that the parking access will be via Pentre Gardens and are worried it will create congestion. Councillors will ask for highways officials to take a close look at the likely impact.

Rightacres in their consultation document say: "Importantly the development of this site will illustrate that development does not stop at the river bridge as it crosses into Grangetown and whilst this development is modest in scale compared with the Brewery Quarter and Central Square developments, it makes a stepping stone in scale between these and the traditional housing stock of Grangetown."


This shows the original design for the height of the flats, next to the current proposal

The site has attracted issues around prostitution and anti-social behaviour over a long period and many residents are keen to something built on the site - it is not the principle but the scale of what's proposed which is the problem.

Postcard project remembers the streets where they lived

Special postcards were sent out to mark 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 by volunteers from Grangetown Local History Society - asking current householders 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.

The society has researched the details of most of the 330 men on the war memorial in Grange Gardens, as well as another 155 men and women who were omitted when it was erected in 1921.


Local businesses in Penarth Road displaying postcards

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.

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

Meanwhile, postcards of the Grangetown "poppy map" - showing all the homes were casualties lived before the War - have also been produced, and also a 200-page book It Touched Every Street has been published, telling stories of the men and women - with a detailed list of all those local casualties. More details on the Grangetown War project website

'Unique experience' at first Grangetown pop-up restaurant

For one night only, Cornwall Street church hall was transformed into a pop-up restaurant for Grangetown's first pop-up restaurant. We asked Branwen Llewellyn about the new venture.

Tell us who's behind it? Our names are Tomos and Branwen, and we are brother and sister originally from a small village near Bala in North Wales, but who have made Grangetown our home. I've lived here for five years, and Tomos for two. Tomos is a chef by trade, and although I have an office job, I think it's fair to say that any time spent away from my desk and not sleeping is time spent thinking about food. Tomos is very much the same, and approached me one day with the suggestion of organising a pop-up restaurant, and here we are, a week away from the big night!

What can people expect on the night - are you dressing the place up or will it be all about the food and the atmosphere? People can expect a great meal served in a friendly and open atmosphere. We enjoy home cooking, and we hope that both the meal and the atmosphere will reflect that, whilst still giving our guests a special and unique experience.

Pop-up restaurants have happened elsewhere but this is a first for Grangetown - how do you think the place is changing? Cardiff is fast becoming a 'foodie' city. Grangetown has a wealth of restaurants, take-aways and food stores, and this pop-up is just one small add-on to what is already a vibrant food scene. New initiatives are coming to Grangetown all the time, and our hope is that the Porthi pop-up restaurant will become a regular event for the Grangetown community.

What are you favourite foodie places in the city? There may be too many to mention as we love everything from Pizza Pronto to Milkwood, from Bar 44 to Vegetarian Food Studio, from Bangkok Cafe to Mezza Luna. And Canna Deli, of course, where Tomos is the chef!

What would you like to do after this one? We're concentrating on getting the first Porthi event under our belts before thinking about the next, but in the meantime would welcome any suggestions for future menus - what would you like to see at the next Porthi pop-up? Let us know via the email address (below)

How many tables are available and how do people book? We're actually very near capacity now for this first pop-up, but anyone interested can contact us on porthiporthi@gmail.com

'Ambitious' Channel View transformation unveiled


An early artist impression - although this is not the final detailed plan for how the estate might look.

Channel View estate would be completely transformed - and double in size - in proposals being unveiled to the public for the first time.

Estate residents have been consulted in recent weeks about the ideas - although plans are at their early stage.

Local councillor and cabinet member for housing and communities Lynda Thorne, said: "We have an exciting opportunity to redevelop the Channel View estate to deliver more quality social housing in the city and create an improved environment for residents."

The number of homes on the estate would almost double from the current 184 properties - to 360 - as well as the creation of more in-demand three and four-bedroom family homes.

It would involve the demolition of the 14-storey high Channel View tower block, home to 86 residents. Plans to reclad the tower were already put on hold due to Grenfell, but the 1970s building was also facing significant costs to refurbish and replace ageing systems including plumbing.


New cladding had been due to be fitted but plans were put on hold after the Grenfell disaster last June.

It is understood with a replacement expected to cost upwards of £12m, new low-rise replacement homes were looked at as an alternative and tower residents have been consulted recently about this new option.


Another artist impression released by Cardiff Council.

The new vision includes flats - but no more than seven storeys high at most across the project.

Mrs Thorne said: "The Channel View estate regeneration is ambitious and part of our vision to not only tackle the pressures to provide decent homes for the people who need them but also to create more sustainable and better connected communities across the city."

It is believed the council is looking for private partners to develop the mix of homes.

The proposal also includes a new sheltered housing scheme which could provide a hub from which to deliver older person services. Mrs Thorne said a review last year found structural issues and poor design on the estate, a poor bus route and "low quality" public spaces.


The estate is bordered by new private housing at Windsor Quay, the Bay and the Marl.

The council also has a city-wide target of building 1,000 more social homes by 2022.

"Our plans are at an early stage and we want to work with the existing community to ensure they are involved in the regeneration of the estate which will deliver a good mix of private houses and apartments for sale as well as new council homes in the area," added Mrs Thorne.

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 152.

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.

Tramshed soothe residents late night fears

And lollipops to help in making sure any problems stay licked...


Police and councillors also attended the residents meeting

Tramshed management have met local residents to ease fears about a new late licence which will allow them to open until 3am for 20 events a year.

Worries over noise and disturbance to local residents, and an increase in incidents of crime and disorder were put forward as objections by local ward councillors and police. But the city's licensing sub committee granted the application to allow the limited number of DJ/club events.

Since then the venue in Pendyris Street has met residents, mostly living in the Taff Mead area, to discuss concerns.

They outlined measures they were taking to stop problems - including a designated pick-up spot for taxis away from residential streets, organised dispersal and a look at queuing away from the street.

They will also hand out lollipops to people leaving the event nights - as a subtle and sweet way of keeping them quiet! "It's a way of reducing the noise, it sounds a bit crazy but it has been shown to already work [elsewhere]," said Tramshed director of operations Ben Newby.

The venue will be allowed to open for 20 DJ-only events - providing the bar closes at 2.30am. There are also conditions relating to police being given 21 days notice of each events and security staff having to wear eight body cameras.

The first event was in September and passed peacefully.

But Mr Newby said the venue had no intention of becoming a nightclub, saying it remained committed to putting on a mixture of events. As well as a continuation of live gigs, there would be comedy, a Crazy Cat Fest in July for cat-lovers, the forthcoming Welsh Book Awards and it had also been booked for private events like weddings.

"We've never wanted Tramshed to become a nightclub - it's a multi-event space," he told residents, who have been given contact details to report any issues if they crop up.

A new team is also in place running the venue - the general manager has been there a year, with the cinema programme starting up again recently under new operators. There are also plans to look at the kitchen re-opening eventually, after the Waiting Room stopped doing food.

Residents were also asked to inquire about using the bar areas during downtime for community groups and meetings, after hopes of a community room in another part of the development failed to materialise.

'Watch how you feed the swans' plea after rise in rats

Pest control officials are patrolling the Taff Embankment after a rise in rats in recent weeks.

Residents have reported vermin in their gardens and seeing them in the street - and the problem has been put down to people feeding the swans and other birds which congregate by the side of the Taff.

One local resident said she had been forced to buy a cat to try to solve the problem - and she posted a photo of a rat caught in her garden that afternoon. Another said: "I walked along the embankment last night and counted at least 30 rats, including babies happily munching away alongside the swans, no fear of the birds and no fear of humans either."

Councillors have also warned people not to leave scraps of food or bread out - as it was causing problems. This is on top of the usual issues involving litter from discarded food.

Councillor Ashley Lister said: "I have spoken with officers who have confirmed that all sewers and open cavities around the Taff Embankment area have now been baited."

He said they would also be working with waste management officers to discourage feeding of swans and birds, as well as looking at other options.

People are also reminded that feeding bread to birds and swans can be bad for them.

A ponder with a pint

A Grangetown vicar is offering the chance to discuss some of life’s big questions – at the local.

Father David Morris is organising monthly “Ponder With A Pint” evenings on Sundays at The Grange pub.

As well as parishoners, he hopes to attract the curious from other faiths or not faith at all. “Many people think they know what the church believes about certain issues, but in reality a church can contain many varied views and opinions on a particular matter,” said Fr David.

He wants the group meetings to be informal and sociable, with those taking part agreeing to listen and respect all those taking part.

Future topics are set to include religion and science; gender and sexuality and its place in the church.

It is aimed at myth-busting and perhaps reach people who would normally not think about going to church.

Fr David has chosen the Resurrection as the topic for the first group – on Sunday 10th June (6pm).

“Belief in the Resurrection often challenges believers as well as non believers, because it’s difficult to get our heads round the idea that someone could come back from the dead,” he said.

“We’ll discuss if or how we can evidence this claim and whether a belief in the Resurrection is essential in being follower of Jesus”.

Fr David wants to explore issues which people might be affected by collectively or individually.

“Discussion and dialogue helps us to consider different opinions while being respectful of difference – it can help us to understand one another better,” he said.

“At the end of the day we all face difficult life decisions and grapple with challenging questions on a daily basis, that often have no black and white answers and often lead to more questions, so grappling with those questions together can be a helpful process.”

There’s no shortage of chat usually at The Grange, recently winner of the CAMRA Cardiff Pub of the Year title for 2018.

The pub is also organising its own story-telling evening on 3rd July (8pm), where people are being asked for anecdotes and stories around the theme "first times".

For his sessions, Fr David wants the tone to fit in with the pub’s ambience. “Our conversations will be in a relaxed environment while enjoying our favourite bevvies!” said the Church-in-Wales vicar.

“Unfortunately the drinks are not on the church, but the conversation is!”

Award as head teacher calls time on 38-year career


Paul Catris receives his award, with Cardiff South and Penarth AM Vaughan Gething, Councillor Ashley Lister, chair of Grangetown Community Action and Wales rugby star Gavin Henson.

Paul Catris, head of St Patrick’s, is retiring in July after 38 years at the Roman Catholic school in Lucknow Street.

A retirement party was held in the school grounds on Friday evening and a celebratory mass was held at St Patrick's Chruch on Sunday. He was also presented with the Joan Gallagher Award by Grangetown Community Action, which recognises long standing community contributions for his "fantastic service".

Fiona McAllister looked back at his career in Grangetown News: Mr Catris arrived in September 1980 as a newly qualified teacher straight from college and has been at the 300-pupil primary school ever since. He became deputy head in 1989 before being appointed head 10 years later.

He has close links to the area, having been brought up in neighbouring Canton. His wife Kathryn was herself a pupil at St Patrick’s, with the couple getting married at St Patrick’s Church, before going on to raise four children. Mr Catris attended St Mary’s Primary School in Canton, then Bishop Hannon High School and finally sixth form at St Illtyd’s, before studying for a degree in Geology at Cardiff University.

But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that he would become a teacher – following his graduation he contemplated working in Egypt in the oil exploration industry or going on to work in the North Sea oil fields. “It was a massive change-around in deciding to become a teacher – I did all the geological training and thought ‘Do I really want to work on an oil rig?"

"Teaching had always interested me and I loved the idea of helping children develop, so my change in career stemmed from that,” he recalled.

When he joined the school, the late Peggy Rein was the head teacher – “an iconic figure in the school and Grangetown, with a huge interest in sport”. With their shared passion, St Patrick’s continued to thrive on the sports field. After she retired Christina Barry was appointed head – “a very caring leader with excellent interpersonal skills”.

Mr Catris says, “I’ve been very lucky to have had such supportive heads during my career and to have been able to learn so much from their different leadership styles.” He’s also quick to praise all of his committed staff both past and present, his excellent deputy Mrs Debbie Swain who has been his number two since his appointment, the governors and the school PTA, all of whom have been “incredibly supportive”.

During his time at the school he says he has seen massive changes, especially in technology. “When I first came in to the classroom the only IT we had was a black and white TV – there were no computers, iPads, white boards, everything was written in chalk on the blackboard”.

Grangetown has also become increasingly more multicultural over the years and the many pupil ethnicities at the school reflect this. There are currently 27 different languages spoken in school, from various parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. Mr Catris describes many pupils starting at St Patrick’s with little or no English language skills, but leaving at the end of Key Stage 2 completely fluent.

While approximately 50% of the pupils are from Catholic homes, the school also has pupils from other faiths. Mr Catris describes this as one of the highlights of his work, “We are one family with all the faiths coming together.” He says, “There’s a very strong link between the Church and the school and our shared values permeate school life. There has always been a strong bond between the parish and school communities.”

During his time at the school he has worked alongside six priests – Canon O’Flynn, Fr. Jack Fahy, Fr. Bogdan Wera, Fr. Bill Lloyd, Fr. Ieuan Wyn-Jones and the current parish priest at St Patrick’s, Canon Mike Evans – in nurturing the pupils’ faith and putting Gospel values at the centre of school life.

Mr Catris’ satisfaction is “seeing children succeed and making a difference to their lives.” He has seen thousands of children come through the school in his career and describes being into his third and even fourth generation at St Patrick’s now. “It’s lovely when their parents come in and say, ‘Do you remember teaching me?’”

Meanwhile, the governors have praised his devotion to the school and community over almost four decades. “Pupils and staff will miss him very much as he’s been a loyal, hands-on and steadfast leader and he will retire with the respect and love of all”.


Paul on the Grangetown Festival parade for the last time as head teacher in June.

Pete Collett, chair of governors said: “Nothing is more important to Paul than the education and well-being of the children at St Patrick’s and this can be seen any time you enter the school and see the genuine love and respect from the staff and pupils alike. It’s fast approaching, but Paul’s retirement is a time I’ve been dreading. He is such a part of the fabric of the school and the community of Grangetown and will be missed. However, he is so deserving of his retirement after 38 years of fantastic service.”

Mr Catris’ love and passion for the school and children remain as strong today as ever and his leaving will create a huge void in his life. He is looking forward to travelling and rekindling his passion for art.

And goodbye to nursery school head

Jan Comrie has retired after a long association as head teacher of Grangetown Nursery School, developing it into a centre of excellence.

"Since 2005 my life has been touched by 2,050 children and their families, so many faces and names and so many tears, scraped knees, bumps, laughter and joy," she said. "Our families put so much trust in us and I am overwhelmed by the support I've had from the community over the years."

Mrs Comrie said her time at Grangetown was "the happiest of my 30 year career" and said it would remain "very close to my heart."

She arrived at the school after being Advisory Teacher for Foundation Phase in Cardiff. Before that she taught at Lakeside Primary School and Gladstone Infant School.

Chair of governors Councillor Lynda Thorne, said: "Jan is passionate about the early years and providing the best possible start to a child's education journey. Throughout her career, she has shared her expertise widely, most recently leading training for schools within the Central South Consortium."

She said Jan had never lost sight of her belief that children learn best through exploration and play. "Her contribution to the world of education will be genuinely missed, both personally and professionally, by the many who have worked alongside her," Mrs Thorne added.

Play and planting at the heart of community

The residents group Friends of Pentre Gardens came together seven years ago in 2011, with an aim to help make our local neighbourhood safe and welcoming.

We work together with our community to organise play and planting sessions in the gardens for local children and their families. Over the past years we have worked hard to improve the gardens, working with Cardiff Parks Department and the local police. This has included planting a large number of trees and spring bulbs as well as litter picks.

Our free play sessions are always popular with children especially in the Summer holidays. We offer a broad range of arts and crafts activities with lots of games too. All our play sessions are run by qualified, experienced and enthusiastic staff, they are also fully inclusive. We also organise bigger events at specific times of the year such as The Big Lunch, Playday and Halloween.

Last July, we were thrilled to be successful in being granted three years funding from BBC Children in Need to continue and develop our project. We have been busy planning lots of exciting activities for the coming months, all we need now is good weather! Hope to see you at one of our sessions soon, all dates are listed on our flyer above.

For more information and to get in touch visit our Facebook page Friends of Pentre Gardens and we are also on Twitter @PentreGdns

Joanna Chittenden, chair.

Business map takes to the streets

Grangetown's first independent business map has hit the streets, aimed at promoting some of the best of the area's best shops and services.

More than 21 local businesses signed up for the map - which is a distinctive shade of yellow, containing details of some of our best-loved and also newest local high street names and delivered in a funky and fully bilingual way.

Designed by the team behind the Get Lost In Cardiff arcades map and produced by Grangetown local business forum, the idea is to showcase the best of independent businesses - and making it available in the shops themselves so they can cross-promote each other.

Lynne Thomas, Community Gateway project manager, who has helped support the idea along with Grangetown Community Action, is pictured delivering the map to businesses in Cardiff Bay.

Rather than just producing a throw-away leaflet or flyer, the map is fold-away and can be kept in a drawer or bag. It has been given the Grangetown Shop Local branding, which has also been used in the Grangetown World Market and tote bags.

An online version of the map is being produced for download and details of the businesses are included in a directory on the www.lovegrangetown.biz website.


Cheers! The Grange is voted best city pub

The Grange pub has celebrated a successful year after its re-opening by winning the title of Cardiff's best pub.

The prestigious award for the quality of its beer was announced by the city branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

The pub in Penarth Road - which had been shut for 18 months - was given a major refurbishment and a new lease of life by its new owners, after being bought from Brain's.

As well as a great make-over, the pub - now a free house - has also quickly won support of customers old and new with its choice of craft beers and great food.

In its first year it has employed 15 people, served over 4,000 Sunday roasts and featured some of the best brews from south and west Wales. It has also hosted popular weekly quizzes and held charity events, quickly establishing its reputation as a community local after years of the old pub being neglected and run down.

The Grange's sister pub The Lansdowne in Canton, which won the 2017 award, was runner-up. CAMRA members - who vote for the best pub after visiting dozens across the city - were presented with the award on April 12th.

Dai Dearden, manager at The Grange, said: "We are absolutely over the moon to have received recognition by CAMRA in our first year. A lot of hard work has gone into restoring The Grange and this is credit to our brilliant staff and customers.

"We want The Grange to be a family friendly, real locals’ pub which offers quality beer and food. So far, the community in Grangetown have responded really positively and we are already seeing a lot of return and loyal custom."

Brian Francis, CAMRA Cardiff said: “The Grange has been turnaround from a rundown pub with a limited selection of beers to an independent, inspired pub that champions real ales. They stood out as winners this year as this is a great achievement in just one year of business. It is clear they are keen real ale people."

New-look Clive Lane housing development gets go ahead

A new housing development off Clive Street lane - different from the original proposals - has been given the go-ahead by councillors.

There will now be 101 homes instead of the original 116, with Pegasus Developments now including two small open spaces after talks with planning officials.

Councillors were asked to forego more than £525,000 that the developers would normally pay towards community facilities as part of the deal because the homes will now be all social housing, with none of the houses or flats sold on the open market. It was argued that the project will not be "viable" unless the usual so-called section 106 agreement is torn up, and this was backed by an independent valuation assessment.

There will be a mix of one and two bedroom flats in three-storey blocks, as well as two to four bedroom houses on the site of the old railway embankment.


The embankment before its removal


Work going on to remove the embankment

It took eight months to move 100,000 tonnes of earth and spoil which made up the banking for the disused Victorian railway line. Altogether 6,000 lorry journeys cleared the way for the development, backing onto Ikea.

The back lane and embankment have long been a hotspot for fly-tippers, as well as being home to small traders. The site will include car parking and secure cycle parking for the flats, while the access road into Clive Street will involve the demolition of a house.

Hundreds of slow worms were transplanted to Cosmeston Lakes before any work began. But the council's ecology officer still wants to see wildflower areas and shrubs as part of the landscaping, to improve the green corridor in the area. Improved crossing points for pedestrians are also suggested.

The developers would normally be expected to make a contribution towards school places and local community and open space provisions. The so-called section 106 agreement would be worth around £525,000; this was calculated down from just over £916,000 originally.

But councillors were told because the proposal was now for "much needed affordable homes, including family housing" the project would be unviable if the developer had to make any contribution. The planning committee was told it would be a "benefit for the city" and councillors welcomed the fact it would mean 100% social housing, as they backed it unanimously.

"There is therefore a decision to be made between approving a much needed affordable housing development of 101 dwellings...or requiring that the agreed obligations be met, which would jeopardise the delivery of the development," says a report to the planning committee.

Officials say they are happy the housing is arranged to provide privacy  and the design "is considered to be acceptable and will result in an attractive and pleasant living environment."  

Brewery site transformation is not small beer


Artist impression of the site.

Details of a multi-million pound office, housing and leisure development across the river from Grangetown have been given the go ahead.

The Central Quay development would completely transform the site of Brain's brewery, which is moving across the city.

The old brewery building and distinctive chimney stack are staying as a centre-piece of the designs, which also promises a huge central water feature, and altogether at 2.5m square feet claims to be one of the UK's largest schemes.

Paul McCarthy, Rightacres chief executive said it would become "Cardiff’s focal gathering place for businesses and visitors with live music, a wide choice of bars and restaurants and a calendar of events such as food and beer festivals."

Offices in the Ledger building would include a ground floor called The Market Place, an indoor hall to showcase Welsh food and drink.

Inevitably, questions are already being asked about the potential impact of traffic on already congested local roads and whether public transport and sustainable alternatives will be be up to scratch and ready in time.

There was also scepicism whether more homes were needed and about the character of the buildings planned.

A 650-space multi-storey carpark and Metro stop are also included, alongside a new coach station at the back of the existing railway station.

Generic, bland and loses the Brains chimney completely in a sea of glass and metal. There must be more inspiring designs, surely.

— Emma Harris (@MissEmmaHarris) February 21, 2018

Dim diolch. Fi’n cerdded ar hyd yr afon pob dydd ac mae fflatiau uchel moethus yn hollol gwrthwyneb I gymeriad Grangetown.

— Catrin Jones (@CatrinJ03161598) February 21, 2018

I’ve often thought that the one thing the Bay area needs is more definitely-not-vacant apartment blocks.

— Jaymie Thomas (@jaymiethomas) February 21, 2018

As a Grangetown resident living on the other side of River Taff embankment of #brains development my main concern is additional traffic to our already connected roads it will bring. Anyone thought of this? ?? https://t.co/S2TnLbt3ds

— Tariq Awan (@TariqAwan1757) February 23, 2018

My 5 year old has asked 'Pam?'
I have to agree with her. It's not particularly exciting or pleasing to the eye.

— Carys (@carys13) February 21, 2018

I hope they keep as much of the old buildings as possible. Too many lost, such as the recent and nearbye Brickworks site. This project knocked down some charachter buildings for new shiny appartments.

— mandy attwell (@MandyAttwell) February 21, 2018

The plans - passed in July - involve 1,000 apartments and 50 restaurants and bars, as well as college facilities.

Mr McCarthy said they had taken on board reaction from local people.

"Overall the feedback from local businesses and residents was hugely positive," he said. "Understandably, some residents were concerned about the environmental impact a development of this scale can have and as a result, we will be setting ourselves ambitious sustainability targets including minimising the materials taken to landfill sites and maximising the recycling opportunities."

Repair cafe is on hand to help

If you're in a fix - and have something which needs mending - a monthly repair cafe has started in Grangetown.

Grangetown Repair Cafe will be meeting on the last Sunday of each month (the next one is February 25th, 12pm-4pm) at The Hideout Cafe in the Grange Pavilion in Grange Gardens.

Volunteers will try to fix things that you would otherwise throw away. This could include broken electricals, torn clothing, broken jewellery, wobbly tables, slow computers and so on.

The first was hailed as a big success with 37 items brought along. Among those helping was computer repair specialists PC Express.

"We'll try to fix anything," said Joe O'Mahoney, who is one of those behind Cardiff Repair Cafe, which started in Cathays last year. "We can't do major repairs or alterations on clothes, but will do a free MOT on your bike."

To make it work, volunteers who are handy (e.g. electrics, IT, woodwork, or generalists) or simply want to get involved in helping, are also needed. Contact: Moss 07907489346 or Joe 07868206627 if you can lend a hand.

The idea started in Amsterdam and aims to encourage recycling and up-cycling - stopping stuff being dumped that could have a longer life.

There is no charge for the repairs but people are asked to make a contribution towards the project - and you can also buy coffee, tea and cake at the cafe while you wait.


Eventually, 130 new trees will be planted. Photo: NRW

Boxing club gets go ahead for permanent home

A new permanent home for the Prince of Wales boxing club is being planned near Channel View.

The club has been looking to secure its own gym for several years - and now plans for a purpose-built facility have gone forward to Cardiff Council and have been given the go ahead under delegated powers.

It will include a 16ft boxing ring and a classroom and be built on a disused area between the leisure centre and nursery school. 

The club has members of all ages, from children to seniors in boxing, and others use it for keep fit and boxer-cise, from Grangetown and surrounding areas.

"At the moment we are having a season out to concentrate on the future of the club and the building process," said head coach Joe Feal.

"We were decanted from our original home six years ago - which we had used since 1969 - and then we had a temporary base at the Grangetown Boys and Girls Club. We then had to vacate these premises.

"We now have the breakthrough we needed to secure our own gym which have been looking for, for a very long time."

The club hopes to be up and running within a year, in good time for its 50th anniversary.

The new gym would be on a 50-year lease from Cardiff Council. 

The classroom would be available for Grangetown Nursery School as a meeting or training room, as well as for community use. 

The Prince of Wales ABC's long history includes Welsh champions and Commonwealth Games medallists.


Grangetown cricketer joins Young England tour


Prem and his parents meet Vaughan Gething AM. With Cardiff CCC coach Kevin Lyons.

Promising Grangetown cricketer Prem Sisodiya joined up with the England Under 19 squad to tour South Africa in November and also played in the Under 19 World Cup in New Zealand in January.

The left-arm spinner and batsman has been a regular with Cardiff Cricket Club, who have taken the South Wales Premier title and Welsh Cup twice in recent seasons, and is a Glamorgan develoment player, where he was Academy Player of the Year last season.

Prem, who lives in north Grangetown, said: "Cricket has been a really big part of my life from a young age.”

He is a former pupil at two schools known for their sporting excellence - Whitchurch High School and Clifton College and has been playing for Cardiff since the age of nine.

Cardiff club coach Kevin Lyons said: "He has worked methodically for 10 years, and been a credit to family and Cardiff CC plus all the teams in which he has played. South Africa shall be a real experience and learning process for him and may he continue to improve his all round game and remember why he first started out all those years ago, to enjoy the game."

Keen cricket fan and Cardiff South and Penarth AM Vaughan Gething welcomed Prem and his parents Pab and Lux to a reception at the Assembly to wish him well in the autumn. "As a former amateur cricketer and current cricket fan myself, I have a particular appreciation for his outstanding achievements," said Mr Gething. "He is a credit to Grangetown and Cardiff. I look forward to watching his cricketing career develop in the coming years”.

The winter tour involved a Tri-Series against South Africa and Namibia.

Flats plans rejected again


Artist impression of what the development would look like from Clive Street.

Plans to build flats on the site of a bed warehouse in Grangetown - which have been either refused or withdrawn four times in the last 12 years - have been rejected again.

Councillors had been recommended to turn down the latest proposals - just over a year after an appeal against the refusal of the previous plan was rejected.

The development put forward was for 18 mostly one-bedroom flats built on the junction with Ferry Road and South Clive Street. A auto body parts workshop next door was again one of the objectors to the plans for the Windor Buildings.

Officials say it would mean "poor quality of living environment" and "outlook" and lack of space at the front and privacy for new residents moving into the social housing complex. There are also concerns over three lime trees, which would overhang the three-storey flats.

Councillor Frank Jacobsen on the planning committee said the only thing going for it was it was close to Ikea for people carrying furniture back; but Councillor Iona Gordon called the architect's plan "commendable" for a "virtually impossible site". But others said it would cram too many flats into a small space with concern about dark corridors into the flats and privacy issues for the resident in the ground floor flat. Councillor Michael Jones-Pritchard said: "Affordable housing occupants need just as good accommodation, amenity space and suroundings as people who buy their own."

The plans came from a Cardiff property developer but Taff Housing was understood to be standing by if the development got the go ahead. The developer says it would contribute "to the provision of high-quality affordable housing" and a "high quality living environment".

Local residents also objected to the plans which went before the city's planning committee. One commented: "It appears that no material changes to this application have been made, and I am starting to find the repeated submission of the same plans vexatious to say the least."


Tariq joins Cricket Wales board to help encourage diversity

Grangetown resident, former councillor and cricket fan Tariq Awan has become the first Asian to be elected onto the board of Cricket Wales.

Mr Awan has been presented with an appreciation award by Cardiff Central Cricket Club - the club which he helped set up - in recognition of the achievement and his commitment to sharing his skills and expertise.

He will serve as an independent director for the next three years and help the organisation reach out to diverse sections of Welsh communities. The award was presented by Cricket Wales chief executive Peter Hybart.

Sohail Rauf, chairman of Cardiff Central CC added that as a club "we are very proud at the successful appointment" of Mr Awan to Cricket Wales's board and wished him all the best in his new role. Other VIP guests included Councillors Ashley Lister and Dilwar Ali.

It was part of an end of season presentation night for Cardiff Central Cricket Club (formerly called Welsh Asian CC). It was founded in 1984 by players from Grangetown, Riverside and Canton. Mr Awan, the club’s development officer, explained that from its humble beginning with two teams the Cardiff Central CC has now transformed into three senior teams and four junior teams.


Junior team members at the presentation night.

Two female volunteers have completed training as coaches and the club is now well on its way to introducing its first girls team to cater for the growing demand and promote recreational cricket among the younger female population.

Mr Awan said that two players, who started their cricket with Cardiff Central CC, are now part of the Glamorgan's cricket academy. He said the club was "well known and respected by Cricket Wales and Glamorgan County CC".


On-fire Dragons storm to title

The Bay Dragons cricket team - which features a large number of Grangetown players - has won its division in its first season in the South East Wales Cricket League.

Playing home matches at Blackweir, the Dragons topped Division Nine with six wins and only two defeats. A six-wicket loss at Mountain Ash 2nds was not enough to deny them the title on the final day.

Chairman and captain Syed Abbas said there were plans to run a second XI next season - and a local fitness project.

Syed said: "Following the success this year, the club is starting a community project aimed at creating sports opportunities for Grangetown residents. We call it, “Get Fit – Play Cricket”.

"Due to our growth plans, we are looking to create a 2nd XI team as well as create a youth infrastructure, so there will be plenty of opportunities for anyone who fancies playing.  We are also looking for volunteers, who just want to come and watch cricket  or help out with scoring, umpiring, match day support.

We can arrange free of cost training for them as well."

The Dragons also thanked their supporters, Grangetown News and sponsors Hussain Jewellers of Clare Road.

Oldest Grangetown resident dies, aged 103


Mary at her 100th birthday party.

Probably Grangetown's oldest resident has died peacefully at home, 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.


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

She was born Mary Barry at 38 Chester Street in August 1913, one of 15 children. 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, 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.

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 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." 


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


Mary pictured with her surviving children.

Tramshed plans four-storey flats and office block

Plans for offices and 19 apartments have been put forward by The Tramshed developers.

The block - four-storeys at its highest point - would be built on land immediately behind the existing venue off Clare Road.

The design is by Ellis Williams Architects, who were behind the original refurbishment. It would be developed so the ground floor would include an access tunnel for the venue and for the lane along the rear of the Tramshed.

The apartments on the upper floors would be "live-work" units; the same concept that already operates in the main building. The first floor would be office space for small businesses.

.No parking provision is provided and the transport plan assumes most people using the offices will use public transport or walk, while those visiting can use the pay-and-display in Pendyris Street.

It will come as a surprise to local residents, with no mention of this phase of the development coming up during consultation during the original development over 2014/15.

The idea however has been an open secret for months, certainly since the official opening of the building last year.

Because the facade of the Tramshed is Grade II listed, the architects say they have been at pains to come up with the design that is sensitive - and the building - which would back onto the exisiting building - would be a feature in its own right. "The final proposals will be developed with a separate and distinct architectural language, so as not to dilute or mimic the Tramshed, but so that the new building is read separately in it’s own right," they say in the design statement.

The building will be part part four storeys, with the height thought "appropriate" as it is along the railway line and close to buildings like the Unity student flats.

The biggest concern for neighbouring residents is likely to be parking pressures, given the lack of provision in the development and already the squeeze from commuter parking from the "creeping" city centre. One Court Road resident complained to us already this week about issues and dissatisfaction with the levels of residents' permit parking available.

The Tramshed development has been evolving. The venue has been a success over more than 18 months and residents have been won over how well run it is. The cafe-bar has just re-launched its menu again and the cinema has been open since Christmas. Tramshed Tech at the far end has been another success as a "plug-in" business space. This weekend, the dance/yoga/fitness studio in the middle is due to open its doors.

But this is for an additional building, not a refurbishment of an existing, empty one, so the local reaction is uncertain.

The plans for this latest phase have gone to Cardiff Council and will be open for comments.

'Selfless servant' gets community award

Halimah Islam, who has been running a homework club for local children for the last 19 years, has been given the annual Joan Gallagher memorial award for her contribution to the local community.

Mrs Islam has been running the Saturday elementary school called Al-islah (meaning "guidance") for three hours per week as a volunteer. It started in portable buildings before moving to Channel View and more recently has been operating from the Grange Pavilion.

The idea behind the club was to build up the confidence of local BME community children offering them cultural studies through the medium of arts, crafts, books and social interaction in informal class settings.

As it progressed, Al-Islah organisers realised that children also needed assistance to improve their basic literacy and numeracy skills to catch up with national standards, so additional volunteers were recruited to offer children the support they needed.

At its peak, up to 85 children have attended.

The nomination for the award called her a "true community champion," who had "selflessly served" Grangetown. It added: "Mrs Islam has been an incredible asset and a symbol of inspiration for the women of the BME community who are often very difficult to engage with. She has been offering her time, skills, dedication and often paying money from her own pocket to purchase the learning materials, when certain parents find it difficult to pay the minimal fee. She has taught and inspired all my three children to gain the cultural awareness and the confidence to do well at school."

The award was presented at Grangetown Festival by Cardiff South and Penarth AM Vaughan Gething to Mrs Islam, accompanied by her sister, who also helps with the club.

It is made annually in memory of Joan Gallagher MBE, who served the local community for many decades, including as secretary of Grangetown Community Concern, the local Scouts and as a councillor.

End of long saga for church

Work is expected to finally start in 2019 on converting the St Paul's Church building to help preserve the landmark structure.

The £2m plans to convert part of St Paul's Church into flats were passed a year ago but there were delays in the work starting.

The long-awaited development by Wales and West housing association will see 12 one-bedroom apartments created inside the nave of the Victorian building, while more flats, instead of two semi-detached two bedroomed homes, will now be built in the grounds, backing onto Llanmaes Street. Planners will be told it is an acceptable project for a "vulnerable" Grade II-listed building.

The church will occupy the chancel and link to the community hall next door. It follows a long saga of St Paul's facing a huge bill for maintenance, including for the roof. The building was up for sale for several years before the deal with the housing association was struck.

Meanwhile, councillors have conceded defeat in an earlier attempt to try to stop a flats development on the site of the recently-closed FA Jones decorating store in Penarth Road. In essence, because it's for social housing - officials agreed there would be no need for parking spaces for people living there. The committee was told there were no planning grounds to refuse the application.

Developers J G Hale Construction want to build 19 one and two-bedroomed flats – and a ground floor shop. There would be 14 one-bedroomed “affordable” flats and five two-bedroomed flats on three floors, including two flats for disabled people, if it gets the go ahead.

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

But the proposals 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.

A decision was deferred before the local elections, with some councillors unhappy about lack of parking provision and that it was assumed that people living in social housing do not work at distances requiring a car. The meeting heard that there were 30 unallocated street spaces in the nearby area, while one former Grangetown councillor on the committee Ashgar Ali - now in another ward - said parking issues were "neither here nor there" while there was a need for social housing. Councillor Lynda Thorne has now asked officials to prepare new parking standards which consider the issue of parking for different types of social housing differently.


New pitch fit for Champions!

A new £100,000 astro-turf pitch has opened in Grangetown - the legacy of the Uefa Champions League Final that was played at the Millennium Stadium.

The floodlit maxi-pitch at Grange Gardens will be a long-lasting local benefit to the match between Juventus and Real Madrid - the biggest sporting event held in Cardiff on 3rd June.

Wales legend and UEFA ambassador Ian Rush was there for the official opening, on the eve of the big game. David Griffiths, president of the Footbaall Association of Wales, which along with organisers Uefa are providing the five-a-side-pitch, said: "The positive impacts of football are powerful and far reaching. Football has the power to directly influence health and wellbeing, crime and social cohesion. An all-weather pitch such as this being donated to Grangetown, gives the local community a top-level sports facility that can be used all year round.

 “I’m confident that such a facility, located equi-distant between the host stadiums of the two finals, will serve to inspire more local youngsters to take up the sport.”.

Flats plan for Islamic community centre building

There are plans to convert a building which was used as an Islamic community centre into flats.

The proposal is for nine flats over three floors inside the one-time Victorian chapel in Clare Road.

In recent years it has been used by the Rabbaniah charity as a cultural and education centre, including holding classes. It suffered vandalism and damage during a break-in nearly three years ago.


Bid to open restaurant in old bank

The owners of a former bank in the centre of Grangetown will be allowed to turn it into a restaurant or take-away.

The NatWest branch in Clare Road has been empty since it closed two years ago but the property agents have been struggling to let it as a business premises, although they say there has been interest from restaurant owners.

The downstairs of the building is designated for financial or office-related business only at the moment so agents Varco Consultants on behalf of the owners applied for a change of use to Cardiff Council planners, so it can be sold or rented out.

The ground floor has been offered at a rent of £13,000 per year but the whole building is also available to buy outright - including the old bank vault in the cellar.

But Nicholas Merola, who owns the long-established Merola's Italian Restaurant next door, submitted an objection. "I believe that the proposed development will be a direct disadvantage to our business as well as the local area," he said. "Currently, there are far too many takeaway establishments in the area.

"Business within Grangetown, but especially Clare Road, currently suffer with regards to lack of parking for customers, by adding another eating establishment this will add a crippling effect to the occurring issue."

Nevertheless, the change of use was approved - although with the condition it can only be a restaurant, coffee shop, cafe or take-away - and not a pub or bar. It will also not be allowed to open after 11.30pm. Parking issues have been raised by local businesses, including at the new Grangetown Business Forum. However, the number of empty shops - including the supermarket on the corner - has also been a concern.


20mph limit consultation

Grangetown's residential streets are to get 20mph speed limits in 2019.

Formal consulation started in December, covering most of the district.

Cardiff Council said the primary routes would remain 30mph limits but residential streets would all be 20mph.

Tributes to former long-serving Grangetown councillor

Tributes were paid to John Smith, a former Lord Mayor of Cardiff and a Grangetown councillor for more than 30 years, who died.

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

On your marks for Grangetown running club

A new social running club has started in Grangetown, aimed at getting people fitter.

The first #RunGrangetown was held on Sunday 7th August with a mile around The Marl - and it now meets every Tuesday at 6.30pm, meeting outside Channel View leisure centre.

The project is being supported by Run Wales, Community Gateway, Communities First and Cardiff University's healthcare school and student volunteering wing.

But don't worry if you've not run before or for a while. The aim is to start off with a mile run and build up eventually to a five mile around Cardiff Barrage.

Ali Abdi, Community Gateway partnerships manager and member of Run Grangetown, said: "We’re all novice runners and while we’re not likely to trouble the Olympic Games just yet, we’re an enthusiastic bunch."

The project developed out of a number of first-time runners from Grangetown taking part in the World half marathon in Cardiff in March, which included elite runners led by Olympic champion Mo Farah.

"After running the World Half, many of us wanted to keep the momentum going so we entered the Cardiff Half too," said Ali. "The new running group will encourage us to run regularly and train with fellow novices. It’s fun, sociable and helps us all to keep fit.”

While Community Gateway has initially helped Run Grangetown get off the ground, the aim is for the runners themselves to take it over.

Community Gateway is funding two places on a Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) course that will provide a leader with the skills to deliver fun and safe sessions to multi-ability groups.

Jemma White, who is taking a place on the LiRF course, has entered the Cardiff University/Cardiff Half Marathon on October 2nd and wants to encourage others to enjoy running.

Jemma said: “I'm excited to be completing the LiRF certificate so that I can help the group get established and support people to get out there and run, no matter what their goal is.

“After completing the World Half Marathon in March via Community Gateway, my next goal is a trail 10km race and then the Cardiff Half. I’m sure Run Grangetown will help me beat my target time!”

This weather forecast is generated by the Met Office Weather Widget


 

Budding entrepreneurs start to create a buzz

Young Grangetown people have joined a project to put urban medicinal honey on the shelves of top shops.

Groups of Cardiff University students are to join forces with young people from the area to develop the concept and brand, work on the business plan and then present it to buyers from Waitrose and John Lewis in a The Apprentice-style showcase.


Training in the bowls pavilion

The project was opened to 18 to 30-year-olds from the area who are not in work, education or training. The Prince's Trust is providing four days of training for up to 15 young people. Of those, five will go on to each work with one of five student groups to develop the honey concept before pitching it in London next April.

Cardiff University researchers looked at 250 varieties but have now identified plants in Tywyn in Gwynedd and Bournemouth which when pollinated have medicinal properties, which could help combat superbugs in hospitals for example. They identified plants which bees use to make this honey and are looking at the feasibility of them in urban areas of Cardiff, including Grangetown. The idea is for the project groups to develop the urban honey company brand.

Microbiologist Professor Les Baillie, of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. said they were studying the plants the bees used to look at their anti-bacterial properties. "We have a DNA database of all the flowering plants in Wales and this means we can look at the pollen and identify them from their genetic signatures and once we have identified the honey sample, which has the magic ingredient in, we can identify the plant which are the likely source and then extract the drug from the plant."

They want to see if the bees can produce honey with anti-bacterial properties in urban hives on the roof of St David's shopping centre, as well as creating habitats for bees in plants at the new community space at the bowling green at Grange Gardens.

Grangetown by numbers

Here are some latest Grangetown statistics, with the latest figures released by the ONS from the 2011 Census.

Images of Grangetown captured by student photographers


© Photo: Hannah Trott for the Grangetown Localities project

Photography students from the University of Newport were in Grangetown in 2013, captured the community on camera.

Seven students spent three months immersed in different parts of the suburb to try to find what community means, from the people themselves. They took photos of groups and organisations, ranging from the police to Salvation Army band, as well as individuals and characters across the community.

One of the second year students Hannah Trott said 90 photos made the final publication for the Grangetown Localities project, which were given out to residents at a well-attended event on January 15th. "We took so many other images that didn't make the cut - too many to count," she said. "I know I alone took about 300 which ended up being just 20 in my publication."

"We think Grangetown is such a diverse area, filled with so many interesting cultures and people." added Hannah, when asked about the students' impressions of the neighbourhood. "We felt very lucky to be have had an opportunity to meet just a few of all the communities that Grangetown holds, it's very obvious there is a place for everyone there.

"On the persuading side, we had a very wide response. I personally spent time getting to know the people I wanted to photograph (The FAN Charity), and was very welcomed into the community they had there. Other members in my group, though, had a struggle to gain people's trust.

"On some level I do feel that the people of Grangetown are reluctant to let people into their lives, and are very private, but in a way, I understand it. After talking to some people, you can see that not everyone has welcomed the change in culture in the area as well as others. But we had a varied response, and most people were happy to at least talk to us, even if they refused a picture being taken of them."

They launched their work with a publication of 90 of their photos at an event at the Lyndon Social Club in Clare Road, which was used by one of the students as a makeshift "studio," where residents stopped by for photo sessions. Another student got involved with the youth of Grangetown to produce a Banksy-style series of photos, with them expressing their views on issues like drugs and racism.

A preview of the students' exhibition online


We're starting to include local community videos on the website - here is one of a trip down the River Ely by Grangetown Local History Society, and another showing the Grangetown parade and carnival day in June 2011.

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Misc links and interesting blogs: Alt Cardiff Anecdotal City Voluntary Action Cardiff Cardifferent Hungry In Cardiff Peter Finch We Are Cardiff Canton Tourist Board (humour) Brew Wales Pint of 45 (Cardiff pub blog) My Whitchurch
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