Grangetown Local History Society meets at the Grangetown Hyb (Library, 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.

Doug Knight chairperson, Email:


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

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Tribute to Terry Harris, 1943-2017

Terry (left) enjoying a history society meeting

The history society has lost one its long-standing members, who travelled regularly for meetings back "home" from Margam, where he lived. Terry was a quiet and friendly member of the group. He was remembered at March's meeting with a tribute from Zena Mabbs, which included mention of his own astonishing personal history - being one of the early recipients of a heart transplant 29 years ago, eight years after the operation was first performed at Harefield Hospital. Terry himself wrote about this gift of extra life in 2013 - and his own Grangetown memories, which we reproduce below.

My life before and after a transplant

This year is a very special year for me as I celebrate 25 years since I had a heart transplant. I will start at the beginning, in 1983 when I was a lorry driver delivering suspended ceilings over all parts of Wales and the West Country. It was while I was making a delivery to Llanelli in September; I was driving on the M4 and I felt terrible. It was indigestion, as I thought, so I stopped at a chemist to buy some tablets. The pain eased so I carried on. All was OK until on the way home the pain started again so I pulled into a lay-by just outside Bridgend. I’m not sure how long I was there but it was at least two hours. Eventually the pain went and I drove home but I did a silly thing and went to work the next day being a Saturday to load up ready for Monday I was ill in there and came home. Gosh, I felt so ill and went to bed!

My wife Janet phoned twice for the doctor but he still didn’t come and she could see I was getting worse so she phoned 999 for an ambulance, they were there in no time and took me into Llandough Hospital where I later had a heart attack. It took me best part of a year to get over it but while I was still recuperating I had the bad news that my elder brother had died from a heart attack. This knocked me for six. He was only 47 and I was only 40. I just wondered what was going on with us.

I went back to work but after 18 months I was struggling again short of breath and chest pain, I managed to go on until the end of the year and went back on the sick. The next year I had another heart attack and Janet had to finish work to look after me. I had tests and I was put on the waiting list for a bypass operation. I waited nearly a year but then I had another heart attack this time a massive one and I wasn’t expected to survive this one. But against all odds I did. The only trouble was that this attack had done so much damage to the heart that they wouldn’t be able to do the bypass and they had taken me off the list. When they told me this it just knocked the stuffing out of me I thought that was my lot, but unknown to me then they still had one trick up there sleeve.

I was tranferred to the Heath Hospital in Cardiff. The doctor came to see me. I was in a bad way but then he said something which just blew me away; he said how would you feel about having a heart transplant? I said yes straight away and when he said 'hold on and think about it a while', my answer to that was 'I don’t need to think about it, when can I have it?' He told me it was not that simple and that I would have to go up to a hospital in London for tests and assessment so that is what happened next. They sent me up there within a week to Harefield Hospital in Middlesex. I was up there for five day’s and then came back to the Heath hospital. I was informed the next that they had accepted me and put me on the transplant list. I was to remain in hospital for the next four months. Eventually, I came home but I had to sleep downstairs. I waited a year to hear from them and in that time I was in and out of Hospital like a yo-yo.

It was a Sunday evening on the 21st February that I had the call from Harefield that they had a heart for me and I had to be up there for 10am the next day. The ambulance was all arranged so I got back in bed and let everybody else do all the running around. I remember the phone hardly stopped ringing for the next few hours even if it was well past midnight.

Terry, left, pictured at a history society meeting

By daylight, we were ready and waiting but no sign of the ambulance, they were late and didn’t turn up until 8am, panic stations with less than 2hrs to get up there and being peak rush hour traffic, we got there a little late but with the help of a police escort and I had the transplant later that day the 22nd Febuary 1988.

As soon as I was allowed out of bed I couldn’t believe how well I felt in such a short time. It was only three days since my operation and I was walking up and down the corridor and with no pain or shortness of breath, it was marvellous.

I was only in the hospital for two weeks as my wife Janet was up there with me. They moved us into an apartment in the village to get me used to a home environment again, it had a telephone line straight to the ward in the hospital in case I needed any help. I had to go over to the hospital every other day for tests.

I had been in the apartment for four weeks and it was decided that I could go home but the next day as I was walking over to have my final test. It only took five minutes to get there but I was short of breath. They noticed straight away and did a test and told me I had rejection and I had to stay another week until all was well. I was so disappointed but the following week all was well and we finally came home. It was sheer bliss and to be able to walk upstairs. I just couldn’t believe it and all the family were the same; they hadn’t seen me go upstairs for so many years.

I didn’t realize how my life was going to change, though, from being sat or lying on my bed day-in, day-out for so long. It went to travelling to my doctors, the local hospital every week and up to Harefield every two weeks. It was so hectic but I didn’t mind that, I was just so grateful to be able to do it. As time went on the visits gradually got less until I had to go to my own hospital every two months and up to Harefield twice a year.

From then on Janet and I immersed ourselves in raising money for the hospital with the help of all the family and our friends. Life was sweet for a good few years and we got on with renovating our house in Leckwith village and sorting out the large garden that we had, but after a while I was feeling it was getting too much for us and things were taking me longer and longer to do so we decided to sell up and move to something more manageable. It took us two years to sell the cottage and we bought a house in Margam nearNr Port Talbot in 2002, all on the flat and a smaller garden. It was ideal.

We had been there a couple of years and I was struggling to do things again the doctors tried all sorts of medication but to no avail I had to go and stay up in Harefield again for tests. Then I had the bad news that I needed another heart transplant.

I was put on the waiting and over three years I was called up there three times as an emergency but each time it was called off because the heart wasn’t suitable. About six months later I was told that I wouldn’t be having the transplant and being taken off the list. They said it was because of my age and the shortage of donors. I was really upset and angry at the time to have travelled up there to be told that, I felt that I was just being dumped.

But looking at the situation later I thought 'well I’ve had one bite at the cherry and there are so many young people waiting for transplants, so OK I can’t do a lot of things but I’ve seen my grandchildren growing up and that is something my brother never had. I’m still here so just be grateful for what I’ve got and just take things as they come and take one day at the time.'

I believe I am very lucky to be celebrating 25 years since my heart transplant on the 22nd February 2013. By Terry Harris, written in 2013. He died in February 2017 and had been one of the longest heart transplant survivors. The record is 33 years.

A teenage delivery boy

I started as a delivery boy in 1956, aged 13, until 1958, riding a carrier bike for Thomas & Evans, delivering groceries around Grangetown. Their shop was on the corner of Penarth Road and Paget Street (where Yang's Chinese restaurant is now). I went there straight from school at 4.30 p.m. The working week was Monday to Saturday with Wednesday off. My wages were 12s 6d and I used to have about 23 shillings in tips; out of that I gave my mother 10 shillings, and I thought I was a millionaire! I used to save £1 and that still left me with more money than I had ever had before.

A bike, similar to the one Terry used. And below David Thomas Davies, manager at Thomas & Evans, who retired in about 1953.

I had a bicycle of my own but the carrier bike was a different thing altogether. The groceries were packed into tall, brown paper bags and when four or five of these bags were loaded into the front carrier basket the added weight took some getting used to. Once mastered, I was away, as good as any of the delivery boys in Grangetown.

As you would expect there was a wide variety of people that I delivered to. One lady who lived all the way down the bottom of Broad Street always snatched the bag off me and slammed the door in my face. She only came into the shop every couple of weeks. I used to deliver to a nice coloured lady who lived alongside the canal in James Street over the Docks, she would come to the shop on a bus, she was very tall and blind, and one of the nicest people you could wish to meet. After she had put her order in I would give her time to get back home on the bus and I would take her order over, unpack it onto the table. She always had a cold drink ready for me and a half crown tip which she insisted I take.

Other customers were show people who used to set up shows on Guest Keen’s ground in Sloper Road. No matter how many of them I used to deliver to they all used to give me two shillings each, and they used to let me have a look in their caravans. I had never seen anything like it; everything was so shiny and spotless.

One of the strangest things I had to do was on a Saturday morning (which was the busiest day of the week) and that was to go to the Bank. The shop manager would pack the money in a cloth bag and then put it into one of the brown paper bags and I would just throw it into the basket in the front of the bike and cycle off to the bank in St Mary Street to pay it in. Can you imagine that happening today? Looking back on it I think it was a bit risky in those days!

A few of my mates were also delivery boys for other shops in Grangetown and said I ought to ask for a rise as they were paid 15 shillings a week. When I told them how much I got in tips they could not believe it, I think they thought I was just saying it to make them jealous, but it was the truth.

Sadly my days at Thomas & Evans came to end in the summer of 1958 when I was 15 and had to go out to work full time. I loved working there and felt privileged to have been able to do so. It taught me so much about life and about people and how to handle money and many other things that I have never forgotten. It stood me well to start my life as a young man. But they say all good things must come to an end and I will never forget my time as a young delivery boy at Thomas and Evans in Grangetown.

Tribute to Joyce Lloyd

It is with great sadness that Grangetown Local History Society heard of the sudden death of one of its most active members. Joyce Lloyd was a regular attender of meetings and activities for the last decade, including the June meeting.

Joyce pictured second from the left on a society visit to Cardiff Castle's frontline museum.

She was born Joyce Davies in Pentre Gardens and grew up there during World War Two, recalling in one of our books how she watched a barrage balloon from her bedroom window. Her late husband Garth donated a fine painting of Grange Farm, which hangs in the local library. Joyce only recently visited the newly re-opened Coal Exchange - now a hotel - where her father had been born and where her grandfather was a caretaker.

Joyce had taken along photos and the hotel had told her they planned to name one of the rooms after her grandfather. Her sons Gerald and David have expressed the wish that members of the society should know of the immense fun and enjoyment, friendship  and company that Joyce and Garth enjoyed with us all, including all the “doing” things.

Prisoner of war details added to archive

The story of a prisoner of war from Grangetown who had been captured at Dunkirk during the Allied evacuation in 1940 is being told after artefacts were donated to the society.

Leonard Ivor Fry Smith is pictured above, aged about 38, at a party to celebrate his homecoming in 1945 in Avondale Crescent, five years after he was taken prisoner. He is highlighted in the image at the party next to a cake.

Also is a thanksgiving scroll and prayer from the Ludlow Street Methodist Church, given to the family.

Pictured before the war with his soon to be wife and on a trip to Lavernock with family and neighbours - and one of the last photos before his death in 1960, aged 53.

Known by his middle name Ivor or "Ite" - he was born in 1906, one of 10 children born to Bristol Channel pilot Lewis Smith and his wife Elizabeth from Ferry Road. At some point the family moved to 41 Clive Street, next to Parfitt's fish shop. Ivor married Irene Bird, who also lived in Clive Street, in 1937. His family were Methodists but his new wife was the daughter of the St Paul's church warden so they were married there. The couple moved to a newly-built house at 1 Avondale Crescent before war soon intervened.

His Army records and a letter about him being taken prisoner - click for larger version

Pte Ivor Smith was captured at Calais during the Dunkirk evacuation, only four days after arriving overseas, on May 26th 1940. Although he was taken prisoner, he was listed as missing and it would be August before his wife knew he was alive.

Ivor was held at Stalag 21B - or Thure - in Poland. What little he later told his family about his time there included that the camp was near Poznan and that they received Red Cross food parcels. But it appears probable he would also have been involved in a forced march with other POWs as the Russians headed into Germany, with other records also showing him at Blachownia in Poland, which was a labour camp.

Ivor's records show his service as a craftsman. One sees him with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps before during his time as prisoner being transferred to a role as a mechanical engineer with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

After the war and his return, he resumed worked for Coastlines as a driver - the job he had before enlisting in 1939. But he died at the young age of 53 in 1960.

Thanks to his daughter Lesley for the donation.

A review of 2016

A snowy scene by the old library off Clive Street

This year has been a busy one for Grangetown Local History Society. So much so, it is easy to forget just how much we have achieved. Here are a few of the more notable events and projects we undertook in 2016: