"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 5th January 2018, 2pm-4pm (the meeting room is beyond the research room, so where possible meet in the foyer at 2pm, to minimise disruption on entry)

Grangetown Local History Society from 2018 will be holding its meetings in 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 are creating an online version of the Grangetown War Memorial, in time to mark the centenary of World War I breaking out. It involves 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 will be updated as the project progresses. We held a commemoration event at Grange Gardens on 2nd August and held an exhibition at Grangetown Library in 2014. See below for more details.

Books: A third 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.

Visits: We undertake occasional visits - these 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.

Owen Price, 1958-2017

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

It was very sad to learn of the sudden death of a popular society member Owen Price, who died suddenly at his home in November at the age of 59.

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

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

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

Zena Mabbs

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 Owen died, 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.

Society notes: November 2017

Twenty six people attended the meeting.

Future venue for our meeting: The chairman outlined the difficulty we are now having due to the library having booked another group to use the room until 14:30 every first Friday until at least the end of March 2018. The proposal to move to the Glamorgan Archives was discussed and unanimously agreed. The Secretary has already received confirmation that the Archives would be pleased to see us return - from January 5th - and will be glad to store our archives once space becomes available in January. Members needing transport should please contact Ray Noyes raynoyes06@gmail.com

December meeting. There will be no meeting next month. The Christmas lunch will be held instead at the Cedar Tree restaurant at 12:00 o’clock.

Remembrance Services. The service in remembrance of those lost in the merchant navy will take place on Saturday 11th November at 11:00 am at the Senedd building. The national remembrance service will take place on Sunday at 11:00 at Grange Gardens.

New Canton and Riverside Local History Society. This new society is being started up by Sian Sullivan who wishes to forge links with us, especially over our common area of interest, Riverside. The chairman pointed out that it is in our interest to foster links with other societies. It was noted that the Llandaff Local History Society meets in the Memorial Hall, Llandaff and that the district of Llanishen has strong links with Grangetown through the Turner family. Having links with other societies may provide opportunities to find speakers for our meetings, to share experiences and perhaps recruit new members.

Society Excursion. Unfortunately, a visit to the Newport Transporter Bridge will not be possible due to its closure for the winter. A visit to Hut 9 at Bridgend has already been booked for March next year. The chairman will investigate further about visiting the ancient wooden ship that has been discovered and is being preserved at Newport. A second visit to Risca Museum was also suggested.

Our archive. Brenda has completed the registering of our documents and photographs. Steve pointed out that it has made searching for information much easier and wondered if a street-by-street search facility could be created with a map on the website. There now remains the task of completing the digitising of the rest of the archive and it was suggested that perhaps a grant could be obtained for doing it. (See below.)

Financial Grants. The chairman attended a seminar in Butetown on how to apply for grants for societies and groups such as ours. At our last meeting, we approved the purchase of an iPad to replace our laptop; perhaps this purchase (which has not been made yet) could also be grant-aided. Information is now needed.

Grangetown Laundries. Zena and Brenda had kindly drawn up a list of some 14 laundries that were once in Grangetown and a lively discussion about them followed. It once again confirmed how many of us have interesting memories to share.

Reminder Although it has been minuted before, there will be no calendars produced this year. A decision had been taken some time ago that the returns on them were too small to merit the work that goes into them.

Enquiries, Notices and emails. a0 WW1 A research project has been announced by Cathays Heritage Library to encourage children and adults to use the local studies collection. Entitled ‘Greater Love’ it reflects on the lives and stories of those who sacrificed themselves in the Great War. b) The False Armistice. A Mr James Smith has contacted us to point out an article he has written about a rumour on 8th November 1918 that there had been an armistice. In it he described the effect on South Wales by this false rumour. The article can be accessed at www.falsearmistice1918.com c) Grangetown Walk. There will be a second walk around Grangetown on 20th November at 11:00. At the last walk, no-one turned up. No information as to the starting point was given in the email. d) Grangetown Dairy. We’ve had an enquiry from a Jill Jackson about her grandfather, Ted Rees, who worked for Ernie Halbert’s dairy in Grangetown. Apparently a photo of her grandfather had been used in one of our calendars a few years ago. Jill is searching for any information on the dairy. Please contact the secretary (details above).

Best foot forward for heritage walk

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

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 of 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.

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.

Oldest Grangetown resident dies, aged 103

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pictured in the 1960s

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

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

The Grange pub history - another round!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving up the past

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

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

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 2017. Updated December 13th