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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.

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Faiths unite to promote tolerance

Faith groups in Grangetown have come together to produce a book in a bid to promote understanding and tolerance.

The South Cardiff Interfaith Network also involves different religious groups from Butetown and Adamsdown, which together make up one of Wales' most diverse communities.

The area has hit the headlines in recent months with some high-profile cases of young men linked to Islamic extremism.

The 50-page booklet Our Faith - which you can read here - outlines the beliefs of the seven mainstream faiths practiced in the area, with the key to promoting better understanding, which itself underpins tolerance.

Members of the Buddhist, Baha'i, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faith are also meeting and will hold public talks and discussions. One has been planned for St Paul's community hall on 18th November, 5.45pm-7.30pm. Dr Mustafa Baig, a newly-appointed lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cardiff University, is the guest speaker and there will be a short film and small group discussion sessions to follow.

Communities First have partly sponsored the booklet.

The network's chair, Rev Dr Mark Dimond (pictured above) said: "The work of the group reflects the general need 'to go the extra mile' in interfaith dialogue, as the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a recent talk given at a landmark Muslim Council of Wales event in Cardiff .

"Our network organises interfaith events that allow dialogue to develop, not just across tables in meeting rooms, but also practically in public spaces.

"We have visited one another's faith venues as well as arranged talks and discussions. This booklet is another initiative. In it we aim not only to inform people of the uniqueness of each faith, but also to demonstrate that all the faiths we represent are striving for the same end: to be kinder and more compassionate human beings. With rich faith traditions in south Cardiff represented among people derived from the 'four corners of the earth', as a local historian describes it, we can learn a great deal from one another."

Printed copies of Our Faith can be bought online at Lulu.com for £2.54 plus postage.

Contact information for individual places of worship in Grangetown is in our directory.

www.bahai.org or www.bahai.org.uk

buddhistcouncilofwales.org.uk •email: buddhistcouncilwales@gmail.com

www.churchinwales.org.uk www.southwalesbaptistassociation.org.ukwww.cardiffmethodist.org.uk Email cardiff.met.cath@btinternet.com

Shree Swaminarayan Temple


•Email: swjewishrepcouncil@gmail.com

•Tudor Street Gurdwara, Riverside, Cardiff. Tel: 029 2022 4806

South Cardiff Interfaith Network
email: sc.interfaith.network@gmail.com

'Outstanding' long-serving vicar retires

The Vicar of Grangetown, Canon Graham Francis - the longest serving priest in the Church in Wales - has retired.

Neath-born Father Graham, 70, who was ordained in 1971, has been in the post since 10 years and vicar of the parishes of St Paul's, St Dyfrig and St Samson in Grangetown and St Mary's in Butetown for the last 13 years.

In tribute, the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said: "Graham’s ministry, together with the deliverance ministry work that he has undertaken in the diocese, has been outstanding. I wish Graham and his wife Eleri a long and happy retirement."

Fr Graham has served his whole ministry in south Wales after training at St Michael's College, Llandaff and University College, Cardiff. He was made a Canon in 2002.

He met his wife Eleri while a curate in Cowbridge. They have two children Illtyd and Catrin and four grandchildren.

He was made vicar of Penrhiwceiber in the Cynon Valley in 1976 and has been honorary chaplain to the Port of Cardiff, the Cardiff branch of the Mission to Seafarers and the Cardiff branch of the Merchant Navy Association, since his association with Butetown and Grangetown.

His community work has included being chair of governors at St Mary the Virgin Primary School in Butetown and a trustee of the Huggard charity that supports the homeless in Cardiff.

Associate priest Father David Morris - who joined Father Graham in Grangetown three years ago as the youngest minister in the Church in Wales, said he had been a great source of advice on many matters within the life of the church. "Fr Graham has developed a reputation as a diligent and personable parish priest, who is highly thought of by his parishioners, many in the local community, his colleagues and countless others who have had the pleasure of knowing him. During his ministry he has enjoyed working ecumenically with other Christians, as well as with other faith communities".

Fr Graham is said to be looking forward to spending more time with his family, especially his four grandsons in his retirement.

His retirement was marked with a special Mass at St Mary’s on Saturday 30th January.

Service to mark St Paul's closure ahead of big change

St Paul's Church in Grangetown is closing in its current form in February, as it prepares to be remodelled - partly as community housing.

The church chose the 126th anniversary of its dedication for a service to mark the closure. The Grade II-listed building has been up for sale for eight years, as the Church-in-Wales struggled with fuel bills and an estimated £1.3m cost for maintenance and repairs. During the coldest winter days, services have been switched to the church hall.

But a housing association came forward with an offer which will see the 1890 building shared between the church and social housing for the elderly and disabled. The main church - the 75ft-long nave - will be converted into new flats; the church will eventually operate in a smaller space in the chancel, sanctuary and vestry.

Father David Morris, associate priest at St Paul's, said it was a "wonderful opportunity" and "an unexpected compromise" after a failure to sell the building. He said following the service - attended by 200 people and taken by the assistant bishop of Llandaff Rev David Wilbourne on 5th February - the contents and fixtures and fittings of the church would be "sensitively" removed.

"This service of thanksgiving was a final opportunity for the whole Grangetown community to come together in the St Paul's Church building for a service of thanksgiving, celebrating all that has been all all that will be."

St. Paul's became famous in 2005 when it was featured in an episode (Father's Day) of Dr Who and attracts many Dr Who fans.

During the redevelopment, all services will be held in the church hall, which was refurbished in 2014.

Muslim Cultural Centre

The Grangetown Muslim Cultural Centre (GMCC) is celebrating 20 years since it was registered as a charity - and the first few months in its new home in Clydach Street.

It is both a mosque and an education centre for 600 adults and 150 children, as well as offering services from translation to funerals, and in the future hopes to be able to offer computer classes and a homework club.

During the function to celebrate the official opening

The centre has come a long way since its humble beginnings of using converted shops on Penarth Road. Back in 1988 when it was incorporated, it was known as the Islamic School Trust.

In June 2004, the name was changed to capture the spirit of its revised constitution and its wider aims and objectives. Due to the growing Muslim community in Grangetown there was an urgent need to find a suitable alternative to the Penarth Road site.

After much searching, eventually in August 2002 the former YMCA building in Clydach Street was acquired for £200,000 with funds raised by the local community. To renovate and expand the building to its current standard another £600,000 was spent, of which Welsh Assembly Government granted £117,000 and Cardiff Council offered £10,000. Remaining funds have been raised through a huge effort of private collections nationally and through the generosity of donations made by the Cardiff Muslim community, predominantly those in Grangetown.

In October 2006 the GMCC first opened its doors to its members during the holy month of Ramadan. Along the way, some key milestones were passed. The first planning application was submitted in 2003, before the following year, the council granted permission for the building to be used as a place of worship. Then in August 2005, the first builders arrived and the final phase of construction was completed in December 2006. By October 2007, finally, the building was granted a clear bill of health in accordance with all the fire and safety regulations.

To celebrate the successful completion of this project, a function was organised in November 2007 to thank the local and national dignitaries who have supported the project.

GMCC currently has over 600 adult members and over 150 children attending the evening classes.

    It has four key aims and purposes:

  • To act as an educational centre for the purposes of teaching Islamic beliefs, practices and culture.

  • As a mosque for worship and performing religious duties.
  • To provide an advice service and day care to those in need.
  • For recreation facilities in the interest of social welfare.

In relation to these aims and objectives the GMCC currently provides Islamic classes to children, is open five times a day for the daily prayers, holds Islamic funeral services and facilitates a very basic day centre for the elderly.

Celebrating the opening - left to right, G Mustapha (trustee), Alun Michael MP, M Ifzal (committee member), Tariq Awan (secretary), Qamar Zaman (trustee), Lorraine Barrett AM, S Sprudd (contractor), Mohammed Saeed (chairman) and S Kandia (architect).

The organisation is also able to translate formal documents from Urdu to English, such as marriage and birth certificates.

It continues to strive to serve the needs of the local Muslim and ethnic minority communities that are difficult to satisfy elsewhere. In the near future, once additional funds are secured, the management plans to offer a purposeful day centre, computer classes with a homework club for children and an educational programme for the ladies.

From its inception in 1988 to the official completion in 2007 many milestones have been achieved, obstacles overcome and opposition appeased.

The GMCC now sits as the focal point of the Grangetown Muslim community, of which it should be proud.

The foundations have been laid for the current and future generations to reap the rewards of this auspicious centre and at the same time utilise it as a medium to improve understanding between different communities and cultures of Grangetown and Cardiff .

We are very grateful to the Welsh assembly and Cardiff Council for their assistance. Without their cooperation it would have been difficult to achieve the results we have.


Temple's notable feature on local landscape

By Khushal Hirani

September 2007 saw Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Cardiff celebrate 25 years since it first established itself as an integral part of the city. The temple off Merches Gardens in Grangetown, with its three 'Sikhars' and Indian architecture forming a remarkable feature in the city's landscape.

The renovation project was inspired as a challenge to the youth of the Hindu community two years ago. This challenge was gladly accepted with the aims of meeting the needs of an elderly congregation, providing new facilities such as a sports hall for kids, teaching and function rooms, and installation of new deities.

With voluntary help from the community in Cardiff and throughout the UK, the temple turned a renovation project which would normally cost in excess of £1.5m, into one costing £700,000. This was paid for predominantly from donations from the community itself and more importantly from participation in voluntary work from people with no construction skills whatsoever.

From demolition, to digging trenches, laying blocks to plastering and decorating, to protecting the building in all weathers, this was an opportunity to learn new skills and contribute. The most inspirational thing was how people gave up two years of their lives after their normal day jobs, at the most inconvenient of times in order to achieve this aim.

The week celebrating the silver jubilee included an exhibition, Musical concerts, a cruise from the Bay and a spectacular parade from City Hall to the Temple for the grand door opening ceremony. The parade was attended by over 5000 people, in addition to many residents and visitors who watched. It involved floats, dancers and was a spectacle of colour, demonstrating the multi culturalism and partnership working of the city.

A spokesman from the Temple said, "We have had fantastic support in organising this parade from the whole community. South Wales Police particularly have been instrumental and also the enabling role of the Council has been invaluable. We look forward to continue working together"

The Temple continues to be a focal point for school and other visits from throughout Wales and further afield. The community is looking forward to its next big Diwali celebrations which take place on Saturday 10th November at the Temple.

The temple was first set up in a former printing warehouse before moving to the current building opposite, which was previously a ballroom and social club. The £700,000 refurbishment of the current building, which improves access, is most notable for the three eye-catching domes or "shikhars".

The parade, which included coachloads from London, culminated in music and dancing outside the temple, before bidding reached £17,700 for the honour of being the first person to open the temple door.

Did you know there used to be a synagogue in Merches Place?

ZENA MABBS, chair of Grangetown History Society, traces the history of a building which has been used by three different religions since it opened nearly 110 years ago.

The three ages of the building - as Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple and Christian Pentecostal church

The synagogue in Merches Place was known as the Foreigner's Shul or Furriners' Shul and opened in 1900, formed from recent immigrants to the area. For instance, in Allerton Street in 1900 there lived 13 Jewish families, six of whom described their occupations as tailors. Ten families lived in Clare Road, consisting of two watchmakers and two pawnbrokers.

Information taken from the Cardiff directories of the period show variations in the name of the location of the building. In 1904, it was called Talmud Torah Meeting House, Saltmead, with reader and teacher M Katz. In 1915, it was listed as Talmud Torah Jewish Meeting House,Merches Place; and in 1920 it was the same name but in Merches Gardens.

It wasn't always easy. We have come across a report from 1897 detailing anti-Semitism in north Grangetown. The worst incident detailed in the Evening Express describes how the wife of a Jewish tailor had her eye taken out by stone-throwing teenagers.

The paper describes the treatment "against the inoffensive Jewish colony that has lately settled in the district". It continues: "The opposition to the Semitic race is directed apparently by certain lads, who, on one day, carried their persecution to such lengths by stone-throwing- as to deprive a woman of the sight of one eye, and to weaken the power of the other " Two 13-year-old boys William Leonard and William Horne were charged with injuring was Amelia Roth, wife of Judah Roth, a tailor, of 88 Saltmead Road (now Stafford Road). The court heard that had been "a certain antagonism" had existed between the two sections of the population in the Saltmead area. Things reached a head on the 29th January, when a gang of boys, armed them- selves with sfones, and "started out on an anti- Hebrew expedition." The boys knocked at Mrs Roth's door and when she came out, they threw at her, one of the stones taking effect on the eye. She was taken for specialist treatment to a hospital in London. She couldn't see with the right eye,, and that the left was getting weaker.

The Jewish congregations in Cardiff - they also met in Cathedral Road and the town centre - eventually merged and moved to a synagogue to the Cyncoed area. By 1978, the old synagogue in Grangetown had become a printing press and was purchased for the sum of £22,000. It then became the Shree Swaminarayan Temple, president: Mr. Naran Bhimji Patel, for the growing Gujarati community until 1993 when the new Hindu temple was finished nearby.

The building was taken over for its current use as the United Pentecostal Church and is called the New Hope Centre. As you can seen, the exterior has not been materially altered from when it was used as a synagogue.

Thanks to Cardiff Shul and the Shree Swaninarayan Temple for use of the photographs. More information is available from their websites.

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© Grangetown Community Action and webmaster 2016. Last updated February 15th