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

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

Grangetown Local History Society meets every month in Cardiff in the Llynfi room at Glamorgan Archives, Leckwith on the first Friday of month (2pm-4pm). All are welcome to come along, and bring photos and stories if you have them. Next meeting: Friday 1st March 2019, 2pm (All welcome)

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

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

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

Click here for older Grangetown Local History Society news and photos

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

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

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

Grangetown and World War I: We created an online version of the Grangetown War Memorial, to mark the centenary of World War I. It involved researching the details of the men on the memorial - as well as other casualties with Grangetown connections who were not recorded. A separate website has been created - www.grangetownwar.co.uk and is being updated as the project progresses. We now have a book out, It Touched Every Street based on our research and telling the stories of the men and women who died. See below for more details.

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

Visits: We undertake occasional visits - the last one was to the prisoner of war camp near Bridgend in October 2018. Others have included Cardiff Museum, Glamorgan Archives, Margam Abbey, Risca Museum and the Cardiff Bay Barrage. Members have also joined in research projects involving the early history of Cardiff docklands and how it came about, with the Glamorgan Archive and Parlimentary archive.

New book tells story of Grangetown casualties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Grangetown boyhood recalled

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

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

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

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

Media coverage of our World War One project

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

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

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

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

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

Postcard project embraced by residents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Society notes: December 2018

Postcard project review: Rita had received a number of congratulatory calls from residents and the scheme had received good publicity.

Book: Copies of Steve Duffy’s book It Touched Every Street were distributed to those who had paid for them. The book is also available from Amazon and via the society.

WW1 event at the Old Library, November 24th: Steve and Doug had manned a table at this event and reported that it was interesting and well attended.

Family history: A visitor, Mr Paul Conway, talked briefly about his family history in Grangetown, Penhevad Street, and met Helen Stradling who is related to him.

Remembrance services: These had been attended at the Senedd, for merchant seamen, and at Grange Gardens on Remembrance Sunday. The latter was very well attended and supported, notably by children whose poems had formed a touching part of the event.

Wreaths: Gillian Collins has volunteered to replace Peter Ranson as the person responsible for obtaining wreaths for remembrance events. The meeting thanked Peter for the 22 years he spent doing this work for us.

Loan of documents: We had been given two copies of post-war reports on Court Road School and loaned a large collection of photographs covering the construction of Penarth Docks and the Subway, as well as more modern construction schemes in the Bay. They were on display at the meeting and will be copied for our archive.

The post-Christmas Lunch: will be held at the Cedar Tree restaurant on Ferry Road at 12:30pm on Friday 4th January instead of our next meeting. It is a normal lunchtime menu.

Grangetown Local History Society requests for information and help: We receive a number of these, usually by email, which Helen kindly deals with. She suggested that there could usefully be a section on the web site where requests for information can be highlighted.

Requests for our collaboration: From Emily Gibbs of Liverpool University, who is researching the sociological effects of the Cold War and wishes to interview people who lived through those times; and from Elin Tomos, a researcher for a television company interested in historic buildings. She would like to be put in touch with the present occupants of Grange Farm. We shall first get in touch with Fiona to see if she is willing to take part.

New projects: Zena reminded us that we should now consider new projects for next year. The WW2 anniversary was mentioned, as was the role of sport in Grangetown’s history, and famous people in general who came from the area.

Plaque remembers 150 'forgotten' war dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House documents donated to archive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drying tonight: Grangetown laundries

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

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

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

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

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

Grangetown archive catalogued

Click on the image above to view the catalogue.

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

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

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

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

Grangetown history fact sheets

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

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

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

The Society was founded in 1995 and has a committee; there is no membership fee and it is open to anyone who has an interest in local history, particularly, living, working or having been born or brought up in Grangetown. Doug Knight chairman; Email: grcarinfo@yahoo.co.uk Michelle Derby-Charles and Helen Stradling - email queries; secretary Ray Noyes; treasurer Alan Collier. The society cannot undertake family history research but member Aileen Taylor has offered to help with limited requests, where time allows - queries email: aileenthyer@hotmail.com

Websites: grangetownhistory.co.uk and grangetownwar.co.uk

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Grangetown Local History Society 2019. Updated February 2nd

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