"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 2nd March 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 have created an online version of the Grangetown War Memorial, to mark the centenary of World War I. 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 is being updated as the project progresses. We have held commemoration events and 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. Due to changing fashions/costs, we no longer produce a calendar.

Visits: We undertake occasional visits - the next one will be to the prisoner of war camp near Bridgend on March 17th. 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.

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.

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 2017  on the eve of her 94th birthday. 

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

Society notes: February 2018

Twenty nine people attended the meeting at Glamorgan Archive.

Presentation. Zena Mabbs gave an illustrated talk on the results of her research into the laundries of Grangetown, many operated by Chinese owners. (See above)

1914/18 war commemorations. Rhian Diggins introduced Penny from the Parliamentary Archives who explained the intention to set up a travelling exhibition focusing on the 1919 Aliens Restriction Act. This Act extended the powers of the Wartime Act of 1914 which obliged foreign nationals to register with the police, restricted where they could live and could enable their deportation. She invited the Society to contribute whatever research it has to this exhibition, focusing of course on any aliens affected by the Act in Grangetown.

The Wales Remembers 1914-1918 project. The chairman pointed out that the Welsh Assembly, in collaboration with organisations across Wales, has planned a significant series of events throughout the year to commemorate the Great War. It has produced a comprehensive catalogue of these events containing much interesting information both on the war and on the events themselves. The repairs to the 1920 stained glass window in St Paul’s gets a mention (unique in its depiction of scenes from the newly-formed RAF in 1918) as does the contribution made by the Glamorgan Archives to the Archive Wales project. There are grants available to organisations such as ours if they wish to finance a project aimed at researching and preserving artefacts and information from the Great War. There is a web site for Wales Remembers 1914-1918 The national programme may be downloaded from this address.

Excursion. It was announced that although the date of the visit to the PoW camp at Bridgend had been confirmed by the organisers, the number of visitors that can be shown around at any one time is limited to 10. It was agreed that a later visit in the autumn be negotiated with the organisers so that we may visit in two consecutive groups.

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.


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 2018. Updated February 15th