"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 at Grangetown Library Hub, Havelock Place, 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 6th October, 2-4pm

Grangetown Local History Society holds its meetings in the Hub's community room, with an adjoining cafe. Members travelling by car should note that parking is strictly limited although there are disabled spaces. Street parking is available outside in Havelock Place, also in nearby Bishop Street and North Street. There are regular No 8 and No 9/9A buses - use the stop in Clare Road.

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.

Calendar: We publish an annual calendar, showing popular historical scenes and old photos of Grangetown past, in the run-up to Christmas. They prove popular collector's items. They are available annually from Young's grocers in Penarth Road, Clark's Pies in Bromsgrove Street and Verdi's chemist, post office and store in Clare Road, with a price of £3. Mail order options also available.

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.

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 is a first one - and will be updated 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.

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.

Society notes: August 2017

Welcome. There were 20 people present including three visitors and also guest Mike Statham. Doug opened the meeting and welcomed everyone and introduced Mike as the author of a book entitled Penarth Alabaster

Talk on Penarth alabaster. Zena assisted by Doug then gave a talk on Penarth Alabaster with some good input and comments from Mike and others in the audience.


Members at the August meeting. Photo: Owen Price.

Zimmermann Collection: The documents donated by Julia Zimmermann of Minneapolis, USA, were displayed at the meeting. Their contents are now available in the society’s Dropbox. Doug explained the work he had undertaken relating to one of the publications and of the interest taken in some of the historic photographs inside.

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.

The Library Album project Doug had some preliminary talks with Ceri and Naima of Grangetown Library Hub in relation to their proposed album project and this will be discussed when more details are forthcoming.

Grange Pavilion Development of Grange Pavilion - application for Lottery Grant by Grangetown Community Action and University Community Gateway. This item will be placed on the Agenda for September in order for a representative of the Society to be nominated to attend meeting in respect of these proposals.

Sale of books: Michelle is arranging for our book Old Grangetown Memories – Book two (2013) to be offered for sale on E Bay - reduced @ £2.50p plus p and p.

Stockland Street party: Society chairman Doug Knight (above) attended the annual street party organised on July 17th. It was well attended again and Doug was happy to share some historical knowledge.

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.

Donation of old photos

Julia Zimmerman, who now lives in Minneapolis, USA, has kindly donated numerous items, including souvenir albums of old photos of Cardiff, Penarth and Barry, a programme and adverts for the Cardiff Empire theatre. It also includes a large format commemorative album celebrating the visit of King George Vth and Queen Alexandra to Cardiff, which will also be kept in our archive. Thanks, Julia! Items are being scanned for members to view via Dropbox. There is a taster above of scenes of St Mary Street, Queen Street and Duke Street arcade.

Heritage walk and art workshop

Members of Grangetown Local History Society joined local artists in a heritage walk and art workshop.

The event, organised by the local Artshell group, was based on local public art, recently going up near the Clare Road and Penarth Road junction.

Society members talked about how the area once used to look and about some of the shops which once traded there.

Grangetown gasworks featured on 'Hidden Cardiff' documentary

The Grade II-listed gasholder - the last remaining remnant of Grangetown Gasworks - was featured on a BBC Wales documentary about surprising landmarks from Cardiff's history.

Hidden Cardiff with Will Millard looked at tunnels and underground canals, and also the story of Insole Court, as well as the history of the gasworks off Ferry Road. The presenter was accompanied by Grangetown Local History Society secretary Ray Noyes, who remembered bringing his grandfather's lunch to him when he worked there.

The works opened in 1863 and was a big employer. Cardiff Gas Light and Coke Co was formed in 1837 in Whitmore Lane/Bute Terrace by an Act of Parliament and chaired by Charles Crofts Williams, who became mayor of Cardiff. As the town expanded, there was need for a larger works - with land acquired at Grangetown in 1859, with the works opening in 1863 - connected to the Bute Terrace works by an 18 inch main. By 1870, the works was supplying gas to light up the new suburbs of Cogan, Whitchurch, Radyr and St Fagans. The works expanded, with the purchase of some of Grange Farm's land and land once used by Grangetown iron works.

It was not universally popular. There was some opposition to the price of gas, while others locally in 1869 complained to Parliament at the time of the Cardiff Gas Bill about the smell. Mr Salt, a local builder, said lots of tenants had given notice - some leaving without paying rent. A local vicar and schoolmaster also objected. Even the company's own history in the 1930s admitted workers in the early days toiled "in dusty, dirty and confined conditions," as they handled coal and ashes by hand. Later the works would become more automated. The works had five gas holders, the largest with a 1.5 million cubic ft capacity.

The surviving gasholder was listed by Cadw in 1992 and described as an "architectural masterpiece". It was built by a West Midlands firm J and W Horton's in 1881, based on a classical Italianate design. The site next door has been cleared for a future housing development and it's very much hoped that the gasholder will be preserved as a notable feature, given its rarity and industrial heritage status.

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.

Details of another name on the Grangetown War Memorial uncovered

Although we have had an exhibition and centenary commemoration, our World War One project does not stand still.

We are marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths of each of those servicemen from Grangetown as they pass - including on our Twitter account.

We are also still trying to research details of outstanding soldiers and sailors, whose addresses or in some cases service details and dates of death, have proved elusive.

One name which we managed to track down details for is Private John Sheehan. He hasn't got a Commonwealth war grave, he appears as possibly "I Shecan" on the memorial and as "A Sheehan" in the list of men with the 6th Battalion Welsh Regiment in the programme when the memorial was dedicated in 1921.

Thanks to Army Museum records of soldier's effects, it has been established that John Sheehan died after discharge and his next of kin was his sister.

So now we can establish more details: He was a docks labourer and former serviceman who enlisted in August 1914 possibly at the age of 49, although he declared his age as 44. He was living at 23 Bute Terrace at the time he joined up and working for the Bute Dock Company. His late father was a bootmaker. He died at the home of his elder sister Mary Agnes Spillane at 25 Ferndale St, Grangetown. His death certificate says he had contracted rheumatism and cardiac asthenia five months before. He had beeen discharged from the Army on medical grounds as unfit on 27th April 1915.

Sadly we missed his centenary, but have added his details to the online memorial and will be doing so to our poppy street map. We're keen to establish details for the following 30 men on the memorial. We'd like to hear from anyone who can help us:

Names on the memorial needing more research We're particularly interested in tracking down details of the following men on the memorial, including those with Grangetown connections which are uncertain. Some details on the memorial so far have proved inaccurate, so we'd like to hear from anyone who can help us:

CALLAN, Thomas On St Patrick's RC Church plaque, no details traced
CAVANAGH J Welsh Regiment TWT Royal Engineers Lieutenant - No details can be traced
CHIPLEN, Frederick - Grangetown address/connection?
COLEMAN, James Mark Grangetown address/connection?
DE VINE, James Arthur Forrest Grangetown address/connection?
DRURY, Robert b Lincoln but where did he live in Grangetown?
EVANS, D Welsh Regiment 3rd Battalion Private No details can be traced
GULMAN,J Welsh Regiment 2nd Battalion Private No details can be traced
HUGHES, S.J Welsh Regiment 13th Battalion Sergeant No details can be traced
JARVIS, J Mercantile Marine S.S "Freshfield" Seaman Gunner d 5 Aug 1918; Grangetown address/connection?
JONES, W G Royal Welsh Fusiliers Regiment Private Grangetown address/connection?
JONES, William Norman, Royal Welsh Fusiliers 1st Battn Exact Grangetown address?
LEWIS, John A, South Wales Borderers 5th Battalion Grangetown address/connection?
MCLAREN, David.L CWGC 2759421 Royal Naval Reserve H.M.S "Ashtree" Sub-Lieutenant d 21 July 1918 - illness Husband of Emily McLaren, of 41, Romilly Rd. West, Victoria Park, Canton, Cardiff.
MURRAY, James, Welsh Regiment 16th Battalion Grangetown address/connection?
O'LEARY,W.J Royal Navy H.M.S "Vivid" Eng Navigator No details traced
O'REILLY, Richard On St Patrick's RC Church plaque, no details traced
OLSEN, T Royal Navy H.M.S "Gosamer" Seaman Is it Trygve OLSEN, born Norway, living in Seaman's Hospital, Ferry Road in 1911 - a marine stoker, b 1889?
PAYNE, A Royal Army Service Corps Driver No details can be traced - possibly Alfred Edward Payne (b 1892, 32 Penhaved St) who may be the same who joined the RASC as a driver, No 174169, reinlisting in March 1916. -
PRIEST, C Royal Navy H.M.M.S No.7 Stoker No details can be traced - could have been serving on the Q7 ship Penshurst, which was sunk on Dec 25 1917.
REES, David Edmunds CWGC 3031914 Mercantile Marine S.S "Camerata (not Camelata) from Swansea Second Engineer d 2 May 1917, aged 24 Grangetown address/connection?
REES, George. Herbert, Rifle Brigade 3rd Battalion, (The Prince Consort's Own) Grangetown address/connection?
RIDLAND, W.C Machine Gun Corps Private Looks likely to be W Cridland - not sure of exact Grangetown address but connected to Grangetown family
SAUNDERS,William Welsh Regiment 2nd Battalion Private Exact Grangetown address needed
SHECHAN, I Welsh Regiment 6th Battalion Private No details traced
SMALLBRIDGE, C Royal Navy H.M.S "Warwick" Private No details traced
SMITH, T A Royal Army Service Corps Driver No details traced
THOMAS, George Edward, Welsh Regiment 11th Battalion Grangetown address/connection?
THOMAS, William J CWGC 607434 Royal Army Medical Corps 2nd (Welsh) Field Ambulance Private 1477 d 13 Aug 1915, aged 21 at Gallipoli Grangetown address/connection?
WALES, T.A.L Royal Navy H.M.S "Bellona - poss died at Battle of Jutland 1916 No details traced
YORATH, W Welsh Regiment 9th Battalion Private No details traced

If you have any details for the above, please get in touch with the society by emailing grangetownwar@yahoo.co.uk.

News in brief and local/family history queries


The older school photo - possibly Ninian Park again - and Christopher and Agnes, with son Frederick.

GRIFFITHS FROM GRANGETOWN: Christopher Griffiths is inquiring about his ancestors who lived in 91 North Clive St., 20 Clive St., 25 Ty Nant St. 9 Avoca Pl, 71 Penhevad St. and 24 Stockland St. He has e-mailed us some lovely photographs. The photo below is believed to be Ninian Park School in about 1932.

His great-grandparents, Christopher and Agnes Griffiths (nee Smith) were married in 1922 in Grangetown Baptist Church. At the time Christopher (born 1895) lived in North Clive Street and Agnes lived in 25 Tynant Street. He has sent us some family photographs. The older school photo is dated around the turn of the 20th century and we're not sure if it is Ninian Park School from an earlier period or if the teacher on the right of both photos is the same man, 30 years apart.

Christopher would like to make contact with members of his family as he is hoping to visit Grangetown in December from South African. Here are the names of the siblings of Christopher Griffiths (born 1895) - Emily Ann b. 1897 Edith b. 1898 Gladys b. 1900 Ivor b. 1902 Leonsah b. 1902 Frances aka Nancy b. 1904 Zippora b. 1907 Phillip John b. 1908 Doris May b. 1910 Thomas A. b. 1911 Olwen C. aka Cissie b. 1915.

Request for family history information - William Watson. An email had been received from a Mrs Ruth Hinton asking for information on her grandfather, Mr William Frank Watson, who owned a paper mill at 9a Penarth Road. Any members who can throw any light on this information, especially the works’ location, should contact the secretary.

Note from June meeting - society archivist Peter Ranson has been shouldering this responsibility for some years and it is thanks to him that we have such a comprehensive record of the history of Grangetown. He now wishes to stand down and a replacement will need to be found.

External research requests: Aileen Thyer has offered to undertake some research for people enquiring of the Society after their family history. Normally, the Society does not have the resources to respond to such requests, but Aileen has offered to help where possible. Her email address is: aileenthyer@hotmail.com.

If you have any details for the above, please get in touch with the society by emailing grangetownwar@yahoo.co.uk.

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

Pubs

"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 September 18th