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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Remembering the Merchant Seamen

Grangetown Local History Society was represented at the annual remembrance event for the sailors and merchant seamen of Cardiff who died in two World Wars.

Cardiff County and Vale of Glamorgan Symphonic Band provided music for the seafarers' service, at the Merchant Seamen memorial in Cardiff Bay, presided over by the Rev Peter Noble and Rev Nicholas Jones, chaplain to the mission of seafarers.

The society presented a floral tribute and was represented by Rita and Dalton Spinola, Peter Ranson, Harold Boudier, Bruce Porteous, Zena Mabbs and Alan Collier.

Ken Lloyd RIP

by Zena Mabbs

Ken during a visit to the Parliamentary archives in 2011

It is with sadness that we heard of the passing of long time history society member Ken Lloyd.

He was a staunch member of the Grangetown Local History Society for many years and was a regular attender of meetings at the Old Library under the chairmanship of Eileen Breslin, accompanied by his sister.

Ken always helped out where ever he could with our various activities, particularly so when he accompanied Rita to so many interviews for our oral history project.

We have his own Grangetown memories safely recorded and some of these anecdotes on how he escaped death on three occasions were featured in our Grangetown Memories Book One.

It included Ken's memories of the Blitz, when as a boy, fate intervened so he escaped tragedy in the bombing of Hollyman's bakery in January 1941.

Aged 12 and a half at the time, he was on his way home from a children's meeting at the Ebenezer Chapel in Corporation Road, when he was among those called towards the shelter by Mr Hollyman. "I was just walking past Grange Gardens, coming home," he recalled. "I lived in Warwick Street and told him I didn't have far to go," said Ken. Of the children he said, "We were with them one day, and they next day they weren't there. Everyone who had gone in there (the shelter) was killed outright."

We all missed his kind presence and wise counsel when he decided he was not able to come to our meetings because of ill health.

Ken was born in Ludlow Street and for many years had a shop in Holmesdale Street; he was a member of the Ebenezer Gospel Hall and also helped out at the Salvation Army. Ken also used to run a Friendship Club held at the Grangetown Library.

Our condolences go to Sheila, all his family and to all his many friends. From all the members of the Grangetown Local History Society who had the privilege of sharing his company and friendship over the years.

Jan Taylor, Jill Williams, Rita Spinola, Zena Mabbs, Frances Francis (all members of the Grangetown Local History Society) enjoyed an invitation to the Making It! creative workshops at the Wales Millennium Centre. They had taken part in the Voices from the Factory Floor project, recording memories of working women.

Talk on Liberty ships

The society was pleased to welcome back Barry historian Glenn Booker to the May meeting for a talk on the Liberty ships of World War Two.

Glenn has a special interest in the American servicemen who were stationed in south Wales in the war, and has previously given a talk on GI brides a few years ago.

The Liberty ships were built for the US Navy and some passed through local ports.

Warehouse demolition for the archive

History would be nothing if no-one bothered to document what was around now. We rely on people to photograph local places and landmarks, especially when they are changing or about to change. Keith Fruin has given us photographs showing the demolition of the David Morgan warehouse off South Clive Street - taken from the Channel View flats - a few years back. Move your mouse on the image to reveal the demolition - after - photo

The young David Phillips outside No 111 Penarth Road - he lived with his parents above his grandfather Steve's grocer's shop. Below is a photo of him with his father Harmon with a cod, just caught off Penarth pier.

New members include David Phillips, who was brought up with his parents at 111 Penarth Road above his grandfather's greengrocer’s shop.

Under the river - the Grangetown subway

Nearly 120 years ago, a subway was built under the River Ely linking Grangetown with Penarth.

It was built as a short cut for workers at Penarth Dock.

Work began on the subway in 1897 using a trench and cover technique from the Ferry Road, Grangetown end under the river at the same point as the ferry crossing. The lowest section of the tunnel lies 11 feet below the river.

The decision to construct the Ely River Subway was made by the chairman of the Taff Vale Railway, Arthur E. Guest. George T. Sibbering, chief engineer of the Taff Vale Railway designed the subway.

The tender sum was £36,203 submitted by Tom Taylor, a mining quarrying and civil engineering contractor from Pontypridd.

The first cylindrical section of the tunnel was laid on 5th July 1897 and the last on 15th September 1899. It was opened the following year on 14th May 1900 by Mrs. Beasley wife of the railway's general manager, replacing the earlier rowing boat and steam ferries operating across the river.

A toll keeper collected a penny for each pedestrian but police and postmen were exempt from charges. It cost twopence for a bicycle and fourpence for a perambulator.

Horses were allowed through but no one remembers the charge.

Tolls were abolished in 1941. The subway carried the hydraulic power line from the power station to the coal tips at the harbour and a high pressure water supply to fight fires at the oil storage area.

Residents of a certain age remember walking or cycling along it - the dripping water and the lightbulbs being out!

The subway closed in 1963 but it's still there of course, if boarded up.

There are some photos above of how the Grangetown end of the entrance looks now. Thanks to Owen Price. There is also a fantastic website on the history of Penarth Docks, which includes more details about the Ely subway and how it was built.

Constructing Grangetown - book chronicles Victorian growth

Ray presents a copy of Victorian Grangetown.

Grangetown Local History Society secretary Ray Noyes has completed a big task - a book telling the story of how Victorian Grangetown was built.

Ray was particularly interested in the building and engineering involved in the huge development of the suburb in the latter half of the 19th Century.

He has chronicled its origins from medieval times and the Victorian growth and put together details and images of many of the plans of some of the area's most important buildings in the process.

Ray presented a copy of the book for the society's archive.

"Most texts on the history of Grangetown deal with the 20th century; this one examines its origins from Norman times and follows its detailed design and construction up to the disappearance of the horse-drawn trams in 1903," said Ray.

"Drawings and correspondence created during its construction are used to illustrate the text and follow the decisions made as the area grew.

"Using original archived sources, the project of 'the town on the grange' revealed some surprises. For example, Grangetown was not initially considered part of Cardiff at all, but was an integral part of the Baroness of Windsor's grand project to build the Penarth Tidal Harbour, its docks and railways.

"Some facts were shocking - the area was the unhealthiest in the whole of Cardiff; its mortality rates for infants and the old were also the highest; it had the highest per capita number of paupers and destitute people in the town. Both cholera and typhoid visited the Grange. Exposed to continual flooding and more or less permanent marsh water, sewers and the foundations of many buildings simply sank. There was even a tsunami in 1607!

"Warnings about building the town on a marsh came true. It proved difficult and expensive to tame and gave rise to health problems for decades."

The book also draws the important link and corresponding development of Penarth docks with Grangetown, across the River Ely, as Baroness Harriet Windsor looked to rival the Marquis of Bute.

Ray has concentrated his research on lower Grangetown - an area he is most familiar with. But although this might disappoint those with interest in upper Grangetown/Saltmead, this is only because his study in his chosen part of Grange is so detailed and there are such an interesting array of plans and illustrations.

At the society's December meeting, Ray gave an illustrated talk about the 440-page book.

It covered the history of Grangetown from the early 12th century when the grange marshes were in secular hands under the Norman lord, Graham de Sturmi, through to the end of the Victorian era. A number of unusual findings were presented, not least of all that Grangetown was originally considered an intimate part of Penarth not Cardiff.

The area was finally taken into the borough of Cardiff in 1875 following serious concern about the unusually poor health of residents and the shocking condition of the housing and overcrowding. The involvement of the two great families, the Windsors and the Butes, in the construction of the area was illustrated, together with the scale of the investment involved. A number of street names came directly from those of the estates and investment interests of those two families. The talk covered the phased construction of the area, illustrated by building plans and street designs.

Ray's provided some of the images below, for those who were interesting in examining them in more detail. Click on the images for the full size.

This is an early sketch map of Lower Grange - and you can see the names of the different builders for the houses, including John Salt quite prominent. He left £3,000 when he died in 1876, aged 45. He lived in a house, Tower Grange, "near the bridge" and Grangetown iron works. There's also builders like Abraham Lane (1826-1870). Click image for full size.

This is interesting because it shows early plans to build streets beyond Ferry Road and towards the foreshore (to the bottom left). The biggest problems facing builders in Grangetown were flooding and the marshy land - so these streets were not developed. Click image for full size.

This map from the 1870s shows the baptist church in Clive Street and off Penarth Road, significantly the brick works - between modern Redlaver Street and North Street. The ground was perfect for "marl" clay. At its height in the late 1860s, the works turned out 1.5m bricks a year. Another brick works was located between Penarth Road and modern day Clare Road - in the Taff Mead area. Click image for full size.

The book will prove to be a tremendously important and fascinating local history resource, as well as being beautifully produced. Members have already ordered copies of Victorian Grangetown, which is self-published, and more can be ordered for a price of around £14 each.

Buying our beer 100 years ago

Grangetown Local History Society has archived accounts and receipts kept by one time landlord of The Grange pub, John Pritchard, 100 years ago.

They were found in the roof of the now closed pub by a former landlord a few years ago and handed over to the society.

These examples below show what local people were buying as off licence items on 1 April 1916 - exactly a century ago. They include orders for flagons of strong ale and pale ale.

Click on photos for larger images

Banging the drum for local history

Grangetown Local History Society joined in the fun for the official re-opening of Grangetown Libary as The Hub in March.

Members Helen Stradling and Rita Spinola tried their hand at some percussion during the afternoon, while the society also had a display.

The society is back holding its meetings there - in the new, smart community room. And its archives have now been moved back into the library and can be accessed by arrangement with the society.

Death of former Grangetown and Butetown boxer

Tributes have been paid to former Welsh champion boxer David "Darkie" Hughes, who has died at the age of 85.

Hughes fought 46 professional fights - winning 33 of them - at both welterweight and light-weight, with a reputation for courage, style and skill.

He had previously won the Welsh and British ABA titles as an amateur in 1953. In 1960, his victory over Billy "Spider" Kelly at Sophia Gardens in a title eliminator gave him a crack at the British light-weight title. But he faced a frustrating year for his chance. When he eventually faced champion Dave Charnley at Nottingham Ice Rink it ended all too quickly - inside 40 seconds of the first round, which was then a British record.

© British Pathe - watch the short-lived Hughes-Charnley fight in 1961

The young Hughes took up boxing as a schoolboy, after being bullied. He was born in April 1930 in Herbert Street in Butetown to a Trinidad-born father, a sailor, who died in 1942 when his ship was torpedoed. The young David went to St Mary's school and fought at the central youth club and by the age of 15 was the Welsh and British Army Cadet champion.

After turning pro, he fought Willie Lloyd for the vacant Welsh lightweight title at Maindy Stadium. Boxing historian Gareth Jones, in his The Boxers of Cardiff wrote: "A hand injury hampered Hughes but there were still many who thought refereee Joe Morgan wrong in giving the decision to Lloyd."

Of that all too sudden ending to his British title hopes in 1961, Jones added: "A southpaw right hook staggered the drawn-looking challenger in the opening seconds, another sent him to his haunches and when he rose, a third sent Darkie crashing in his own corner, his head bouncing off the canvas."

Although he gave up boxing a few years later, Darkie remained interested in the sport and was a leading light in the establishment of a boxers' union in Wales. Outside the ring, working life included time as a boilerman and took him from Wyndam's engineering in the docks, Barry railway depot, Aberthaw power station to Llanwern steelworks. Darkie married Sheila in 1950 and they had four children - Jackie, Alan, Alison and Joanne. They lived in Warwick Street and also Somerset Street in Grangetown before a move to Llanrumney. He was well known face in the Grange pub and at Grangetown bowls club.

Darkie also leaves nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He died peacefully in a care home on 8th January and his funeral was held at St Mary's church.

'Scarce' was the first word I knew

Speaking to the history society at the Glamorgan Archives

Sir Malcolm Pill, who spent much of his childhood in World War Two being brought up in Grangetown, gave a talk to the Grangetown Local History Society at its September meeting.

The distinguished retired appeal court judge published a book A Cardiff Family in the Forties about his father's wartime in North Africa and Italy and his Cardiff boyhood.

The Pills came from Cornwall to work in the Cardiff Docks in the 1860s and they settled in Grangetown where they became members of the Clive Street Baptist Chapel. Sir Malcolm's father Reginald, a barristers' clerk before the war, wrote letters back to his family while he served as an officer in the war. He was also a photographer and captured some fascinating images of the Army in the desert.

He told the society that war was a "natural state of affairs" for him as a child. "'Scarce' was the first word I knew." He also recalled his grandfather's collection of tinned food "which was still there in 1957 when he died".

Malcolm Pill with his parents and maternal grandfather Tom Davies in the late 1930s and with his mother during the war.

In his book he describes his grandparents' house in Clive Street, where he lived with his mother from 1941 to 1944:

"There was no electricity in the house and no inside lavatory. If, in retrospect, it lacked amenity, it did not seem so at the time. The front room, which had a light coloured sofa and a piano, was used only on Sundays and on special occasions such as Christmas; life otherwise went on in the kitchen, to which the scullery was attached.

"The kitchen was a long, rather dark room with a fireplace at one end and grandfather's armchair in the corner near it with the cat's blanket alongside... "The middle room of houses like this, of which there were many in Grangetown, was often used by another family or a different generation of the same family. That had a conservatory, often converted into a kitchen, with separate access to the back yard."

Champion walker Harry kept going

Three-times Welsh champion track walker Harry Lewis (1906-1993) was remembered recently in a Brian Lee column in the South Wales Echo.

Harry (pictured on the right) was from Clive Street and ran a sheet metal business. His walking career led to many trophies and awards in the 1920s and 30s, and he also set a road record for the Cardiff City Walking Club course. He also ran cross country and became an official with the Welsh AAA.

Harry's story is also remembered by his great-grandaughter Lucy in the Old Grangetown Memories Book Two. He had decided to join a walking club race one day with a couple of friends - and never looked back.

"After a while they all stopped but Harry kept going. At the end of the race, I think he came something like 2nd or 3rd and the judges said 'who's he - we've never seen him before, he must be new.'"

After being signed up to the Glamorgan Walking Club he soon started accumulating awards and had 62 medals and nine trophies by the age of 19, a year after his first official race.

Copies of Old Grangetown Memories Book Two are now available at a reduced price of £3.50p plus and p and p. Please e mail or Tel 02920 345962 if you would like a copy at this reduced price.

PHOTOGRAPH OF DIMASCIO SHOP Wendy Ford has donated a photograph of her grandmother Margaret (Maggie) of 12 Newport Street, behind the counter of Dimascio's shop in Holmesdale Street.

The Dimascios (Christina and Fillipo) were an Italian-Scottish family who opened their ice cream shop/cafe in the mid 1930s. During World War Two, the couple were interred in the Isle of Man - in common with many other Italians - although their son Ovidio served in the British Army. Dimmaneta Dimascio was in business in Holmesdale Street until 1972. The business supplied cinemas in Cardiff, as well as army and airforce camps. A horse-drawn ice cream cart took their wares through the streets in the 1950s.

Trevor Darke. His research had revealed that some of his family lived in Clare Road at number 142. Other information indicated family members had lived at number 1 Victoria Buildings, Clare Road. He wanted to know if these addresses are the same. Information from attendees indicated that the family may have connections with a shop that was on the corner of Newport Street and that some of the family attended Ebenezer Chapel around 1970.

Cory Peachey has emailed us concerning his family who was from the Newtown area. He/She has asked if anyone can shed light on the following family names: Walters, O’Keefe, Gulley, Yorath, O’Connor or Morrisey. Some members thought that a Yorath had lived in Hewell Street and that a Gulley had lived on the corner of Holmesdale Street. In the Society’s booklet Old Grangetown Memories Book Two, page 54, there is a note that in 1910 a David Yorath was a shopkeeper living at number 1 York Place.

Information from members. Aileen Thyer has some information for the Society. She had spoken to Rita some time ago about the importance of collecting information on the Corpus Christi event. She is gradually building up a collection of photographs, including ones from St Patrick’s School. She intends to make these available to the Society. She pointed out that Facebook has a page called Grangetown Born and Bred where people can post information about their links to the area. She has posted on it an invitation for anyone who has a Grangetown background to get in touch with her. Central Library It was pointed out that on the first Saturday of the month, the top floor research area is staffed by an archivist.

The two Grangetown teenage sailors "missing" in first hours of war

Harry and Raymond Burford as young men

Two Grangetown teenage brothers were involved in one of the earliest incidents of the Second World War, when their merchant ship was attacked by U-boat in the middle of the Atlantic.

Henry "Harry" Burford, 18, and his 16-year-old brother Raymond were among 33 crew on board the Royal Sceptre, which was carrying wheat and maize from Argentina to Belfast. But after it was attacked, it was an anxious two weeks before the family learnt they had survived - with many believing the crew had been lost. What happened next? Read the full story here.


Donations for church's World War One window

Grangetown Local History was among those who presented St Paul's Church with donations in aid of its appeal to restore stained glass windows, which remember those lost in World War One.

The windows depict the sea - including merchant navy - air and trench warfare and was installed in the 1920s and is one of the largest memorials of its type. But the glass after nearly 100 years needs restoration work. The society presented Father David Morris with a donation. Society member Joyce Lloyd also held a coffee morning, which raised more money. There were separate personal donations by World War Two veteran Harold Boudier and by David Hughes, chairman of the Western Front Association. You can donate online by going to the St Paul's appeal page.

Dad's Army - but who are these characters?

We've been donated a photograph, believed to be of Home Guard from World War Two in Grangetown but are looking to put names to faces. Cpl D Matthews, Cpl R Richardson, Cpl J Davies, Cpl D S Ralph and Cpl W Head are names on the back but no more details. Thanks to Keith Fruin.

The great smell of Bruton's

We've been sent a few memories after posting this photo of long-standing Grangetown business - Bruton's bakery.

This is the shop in Holmesdale Street and you can just imagine the smell of the bread just out of the oven. It hasn't changed that much, here or at the shop in Clare Road. Some older residents may remember Olive (pictured second left).

Winifred Beddoes (nee Byrne writes): "I was born in 1948 and lived in Bromfield Street, Grangetown from 1948 until 1968, and had many happy memories of Brutons. After leaving St Patrick’s RC School in 1963, my first job was in Brutons Bakery from 1963 until 1966, and I recognised some the ladies in the photograph. The lady on the left of the photograph was Denise Gigot who was from Belgium and she was the van driver who delivered the bread and cakes to the shops in Clare Road, and Victoria Park. I also remember Olive Dibble very well who was the manageress of the shop in Holmesdale Street, and I found her to be very nice but strict. The next lady in the photograph also served in the Holmesdale Street shop and I think her first name was Gwen.

At the time I was working in Brutons, I remember Tarvers Grocers, Dowdings Fish Shop, Chris Brown the Hardware Store on the Square also Charlie Bowles the Barber Shop which was also on the Square, Barnes the Butchers and not forgetting Clarks Pie Shop - the list goes on and on. I also remember with great affection the Ninian Cinema, and if you wanted to go dancing there was the Iron Rooms and St Patricks Hall – who needed to go into town ? Grangetown was a great place to grow up where you could leave your front door open and everyone knew each other."

Anyone who wants to share any more Bruton's bakery memories, we'd be pleased to hear from you.

Blitz programme tells of Grangetown's most tragic night

There was a lot of praise for the BBC Wales programme to mark the 75th anniversary of the Blitz starting in Britain.

Grangetown's own anniversary of course will be in January but the air raid which killed more than 60 people in the area was featured in "Blitz Wales with John Humphrys". The Splott-born presenter - born in the middle of the war - visited the site of the Hollyman bakery in Corporation Road in Grangetown - rebuilt and now Clarence Hardware. Thirty two people were killed when an air-raid shelter at the bakery, used by local residents, took a direct hit in January 1941. This has one of the most tragic stories of the Blitz in Cardiff - you can read more here. The programme producer Georgina Lee has contacted as many people as she can who helped with the project and sent her thanks to the Society for its support: "The historical society have been a big help. It is fantastic to see such a committed and active group who have such a passion for local history."

Grangetown soldier picked for Ypres memorial service

A Grangetown soldier and former Wales rugby international who was killed in World War One has had his story told at the annual Passchendaele memorial service in Belgium.

Pte Dai Westacott, 34,was killed in the third battle of Ypres while serving with the 6th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment in August 1917. He was already a veteran of notable battles and was badly injured in the Somme the year before. The docker and father-of-four from Hewell Street was fatally wounded by shellfire.

The annual ceremony on Tuesday night commemorated the capture of Passchendaele and the end of battle of Ypres - which ended with 50,000 casualties - and it included the stories of three soldiers, including a German and a Canadian. The British soldier selected to commemorated was Dai Westacott. The ceremony included a torchlight parade.

Pte Westacott was a member of the successful Cardiff rugby side from the first decade of the 20th century and he won his only cap for Wales against Ireland in 1905. You can read more about his story here.

Father David Morris with representatives of the community, council, police and Vaughan Gething AM at the Grange Gardens memorial. Right, the brochure for the memorial service in Belgium.

'We shall remember them'

A service was held on Remembrance Sunday in Grange Gardens in memory of those Grangetown men lost in wars.

The occasion is always one of the best attended in Cardiff, and is held in front of the first world war memorial in the park. Those attending included local councillors, Vaughan Gething, members of the branches of the services and Merchant Seamen, and also South Wales Police. Wreaths were laid by organisations including Grangetown Community Action and Grangetown Local History Society.

Wreaths being laid at the memorial. Photos: Alan Collier

New faces on the committee

Michelle, Helen and Alan

There are a few new faces on the committee of Grangetown Local History Society, after the recent annual general meeting.

Doug Knight is the new chair, succeeding Zena Mabbs who stepped down after taking the society through quite a few projects and changes over the last few years. Ray Noyes has agreed to become the new secretary.

Michelle Derby-Charles and Helen Stradling will handle email inquiries. There are quite a few that come in from all over the world with contributions, memories, photos – and queries.

Alan Collier succeeds the long-serving treasurer Peter Ranson.

Peter will continue to be archivist, while Rita Spinola will be involved in oral history interviews and calendar sales.

A reminder you can email

Landlord's receipts from pub attic added to archive

The news of the sale of the Grange pub on Penarth Road coincided with the History Society passing into the safe keeping of the Glamorgan Archives papers found in the roof space of the pub by former landlord Tommy Lake.

These papers date back to 1915 when John Pritchard owned The Grange and they involve more than 345 receipts relating to local shops from which he purchased food, clothing etc., a receipt book showing addresses and amounts of beer received by the occupiers, a bank paying-in book showing the amounts paid in weekly by Mrs. Locke including rent on properties owned by the pub landlord.

Mr Pritchard was also the occupier of Holms Farm in Dinas Powys and there are some letters which give insights into the dispute he had with his neighbour over fences.

All the items have been scanned and are available for viewing by researchers upon request.

Click on the receipt above right - it shows that Mr Pritchard bought slippers at Christmas time in 1921. He didn’t have far to go - the shop was on the opposite corner to the pub.

Receipts from Barclays Bank show money paid in, including rent from houses.

There are also receipts which show other local businesses. These ones came from Harry Kent, who ran a fruitiers and fishmongers close by at 176 Clare Road with his wife Lucy - where the Subway chain is now. The Kents were originally from Surrey and would have been in their 50s in the early 1920s. The receipts list items ranging from vinegar, cabbage to hake and kippers.

Docks shop memories at Risca Museum

The Society arranged a minibus trip to the Risca Industrial History Museum in September 2015.

The museum includes a faithfully re-erected Thomas and Evans Edwardian chemist shop from 3 Clarence Road in Cardiff Docks. The visit was exceptionally interesting and there was a myriad amount of items from the old shop to look at and is a place that certainly warrants a further visit. The Museum is open every Saturday morning during winter months. These photographs have been taken by one of our members Owen Price. Thanks to Helen Stradling for arranging. Click on the link for information about the museum.

Voices from the factory floor

Five members of Grangetown Local History Society were involved in a project to record the experiences of women who had worked in factories in Wales.

Rita Spinola, Jill Williams and Jan Taylor (pictured above) also attended a presentation at the National Assembly given by the Women's Archive of Wales as part of the Voices from the Factory Floor project.

Their memories will be available eventually online

Anniversary of park opening

Grangetown marked the 120th anniversary of Grange Gardens in June 2015.

The park was a gift to Cardiff in 1894 by Lords Bute and Windsor, who owned the land on which it stands and donated it to Cardiff council. Just over 9,000 square yards belonged to Bute and 5,764 square yards came from the Windsor estate. Cardiff's parks committee had three years earlier approached the two landowners, as they recognised the by now well developed suburb had no proper recreational area.

Members of the history society in Victorian costume for the Festival. Photos: Owen Price

The laying out of the park cost £2,374 and a bandstand was constructed in February 1895 - the first in Cardiff at the time - for the additional cost of £100. However, it was complicated by the fact the wrong foundations were laid for the bandstand. "Grangetown Gardens" - designed by William Pettigrew, the Scottish head gardener to Cardiff Corporation and municipal engineer William Harpur - opened on June 19th 1895 by councillor Joseph Ramsdale, the chairman of the parks committee. "A very large number of the inhabitants of Grangetown" gathered for the ceremony and the mayor proposed a toast to Lord Bute and Lord Windsor. Mr D A Burn's Roath brass band entertained with a selection of tunes. There was also a celebratory dinner later.

The Grangetown Festival marked the actual anniversary with a Victorian picnic and music on Friday 19th June and with a Victorian theme at the parade and fete on the Saturday. The history society has produced a leaflet on its history, which you can download and print off here. Or there is more information on our webpages here.

Pins and dolly mixtures

By Elizabeth Cunningham (nee Carter) aged 93 yrs

When my grandfather moved to Cardiff from Faringdon, Berkshire, he opened a dairy in Grangetown, the trade title "Carter's Dairy". This was when milk was delivered by horse and cart, in large churns. So the necessary stables were built at the back of the dairy for the two horses. There was Polly, I loved, a gentle little black mare; Tommy was a robust carthorse I viewed with a certain trepidation, and just a little pat.

To me the word "Grangetown" is a magic word. It conjures up Thomas Hood's poem Past and Present, which just epitomises this nostalgia. "I remember, I remember, the house where I was born, the little window where the sun came peeping in at morn." My little bedroom window at the top of the house, I could just see the River Taff. I well remember my father lifting me up to see the Taff Swimming Race, I would have been about three years old. A few years later it was transferred to Roath Park Lake.

Then came the Hot Cross Bun man, I do not know whether he visited other districts in Cardiff. He was a very welcome caller in Grangetown, with his chanting "One a penny two a penny hot cross buns," very early every Good Friday in Coedcae Street.

The Marl, a stretch of grass off Corporation Road nearing the Docks where a well known baseball team played. There was one player achieved quite a popular acclaim for his prowess, I cannot remember his name. So sad when I travel down Corporation Road nowadays, it has become a strange thoroughfare. Where are all the shops I knew as a child? One particular bakery, Hollymans, on the corner of Stockland Street and Corporation Road, received a direct bomb in World War II. All the popular Hollyman family were killed, along with a lot of occupants of Stockland Street, who were in the purpose built air-raid shelter Jack Hollyman had built. Tragic day, there is a wall plaque there now commemorating this tragedy. My favourite shop again in Corporation Road, was Mrs McKildrick's sweet emporium where I could spend my penny on my regular favourites "a sherbet sucker and a ha'peth of dolly mixtures, please."

Our little park has its lovely memories too. In the summer we were treated to a brass band performing in the little bandstand, and the popular tennis courts where I learned to play tennis.

That dear, idyllic, Grangetown, gone perhaps, but still alive in the memories of so many of us.

I could not finish this little memoir of Grangetown without mentioning Humphreys, the wonderful draper's shop on the corner of Corporation Road and Penarth Road. If your change warranted one farthing change, that would be given in the shape of a little packet of straight pins, or safety pins, sometimes hairclips. Then the lady who sat in majestic splendour in the middle of the store, on a little dais. From there she would zing your change on a wire back to the counter.

June 2015. Elizabeth has published Wandering Down A Welsh Lane

Russian medal for Harold

Grangetown History Society member Harold Boudier has received a long-awaited medal from Russia for his wartime naval service with the Arctic Convoys.

Harold, 89, now living in Penarth but born in Penhaved Street in Grangetown, was among servicemen who were honoured for helping vital supplies reach Britain's Allies.

The Ushakov medal was awarded to those who brought supplies to northern Russia, despite dangers from German U-boats and ships, and freezing temperatures.

At the ceremony in December in Cardiff's City Hall, counsellor of the Russian Embassy Sergey Nalobin, third secretary Sergey Fedichkin, attache Elizaveta Vokorina and assistant naval attaché Commander Dmitry Sharapov were present, along with First Minister Carwyn Jones and the Lord Mayor Margaret Jones, who expressed gratitude to the nearly 70 veterans from south Wales for their heroic deeds. Speaking on behalf of the Russian Government, Mr Nalobin emphasized the invaluable contribution of the British Arctic convoys veterans for their contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany, pointing out their unprecedented courage and heroism during the war. He underlined that those who took part in the Arctic convoys are respected and remembered in Russia.

Harold's Guernsey-born father George won three medals serving in World War One as a gunner. He was wounded at the Somme in 1916 and taken prisoner of war.

A little bit of old fashioned Style

The society has been donated a photograph of the long-gone London Style Inn, which stood in Lucknow Street until the early 1970s.

The pub was near where St Patrick's RC school is now. All the houses on the street were demolished as part of clearances and made way for the school and grounds. See more on our page for old Grangetown pubs.

Up the Villa

Gareth Williams has sent us a photo of the Grange Villa football team from 1928 - obviously a successful season, as they were cup winners. Gareth's grandfather is seated third frrom the left, his name was George Norman Hall, though everybody knew him as Norman. If you recognise any of your ancestors let us know. Gareth's interest followed a photo of the same club from the 1930s, featured on our sporting history page.

Society's plea over local studies material

Grangetown Local History Society has joined other local history groups in reacting angrily to news that the local studies floor in Cardiff Central Library is to shut.

This includes local archives, documents and microfiche copies of local newspapers. There is a proposal in the budget proposal to move the material to Glamorgan Archives, although it is understood there is no further room there.

GLHS secretary Gerry Escott said: "The department has been helpful to us as a history society and to our members who have used the facility to research their family history. It is not just Grangetown that will be affected because this part of the library covers the whole of Cardiff."

Mr Escott added: "Does anyone know what will happen to the invaluable documents and data that is currently held in the library?

"We have recently used the excellent facilities to research our World War One project about the Grangetown servicemen and women who died."

WOMEN'S ARCHIVE OF WALES: Catrin Edwards is collecting oral memories from women working factories between 1945 and 1975; she was able to obtain some contacts from people present at our February meeting. We wish her well with her project. She can be contacted on

Gardens included on heritage register

Grange Gardens has been recognised for its historic value by being put on a register by historic monuments body Cadw.

Grange Gardens and bowling green, c1900s.

The Victorian park was opened in June 1895 after being gifted to Cardiff by local landowners, Lord Windsor and the Marquis of Bute four years before. The park includes a replica of the original bandstand, a bowls club, modern children's playground and a listed war memorial.

Grange Gardens has now been included on Cadw's Register of Landscapes, Parks and Gardens of Historic Interest in Wales. It was included because it represents a "well-preserved Victorian urban public park that retains much of its original layout" and became the first of Cardiff’s parks to include a bandstand and public tennis courts. Although not the same level of protection as a listed building, it does give the park some status in terms of any future planning application. The park includes the bowling club, which dates from 1906.

Just outside the park on Corporation Road is a wooden shelter, near the bus stop, which could date from Victorian times and is a listed structure.

A short animated film made in 2004 by Jane Hubbard, with the history society and Grangetown Primary School, looks at the history of Grange Gardens.

New archive to research

Arthur and Gladys's children Arthur and Esther (left) and a family wedding - Edward and Dorothy "Dollie" Evans.

As well as the Grangetown at War project, we have a few other ongoing areas of interest:

We have been given a large donation of family archive material relating to the Bryant family, who lived in Grangetown - and also Adamsdown. They included Arthur Leonard Bryant, who played for Adamsdown United RFC in 1912, and moved to Grangetown. He served in the Royal Defence Corps in 1917. Wilfred Henry William Bryant married Alice Matilda Rees in 1912, while Arthur married Gladys M. Evans in 1916. We didn't have details of the family wedding above, but now we have been told it was Edward and Dollie Evans of No 18 Kent Street. Edward Evans was brought up by the Bryant family at 1 Grange Place after his parents died. Their son, Eddie belonged to the Salvation Army and his widow gave us the information after looking at our web page. If any more surviving descendants still live in the area, please get in touch.

This photo is of St Patrick's School in 1926 and was donated by Helen Stradling nee Alexander of Abercynon Street. Click on the photo for full size.

Appeal for Bob Wheeler photos

Bob Wheeler of Kent Street, was an artist and photographer of all things Grangetown. Do you have any of his paintings or photographs?

If so the Grangetown Local History Society would like to hear from you. We managed to discover one of his paintings recently and visited it at Grangetown Primary School, thanks to an invitation by the head teacher. It is a lovely view of the rear of the school depicting the playground and the old boiler house, and the school are still very proud to have it displayed on their wall. The Society also took the opportunity to present the school's head teacher Mandy Paish (pictured right with Zena Mabbs) with a copy of a CD of old photos of the school from our archives.

We are hoping to discover more of Bob's paintings and photographs. Telephone Rita Spinola 02920 345962 or e mail the Society Bob had two sisters Queenie and Ruby. Here are the names of some of his descendants, Diane, Carole, Rosemary, Alan, Sarah, Nicola, Nicholas, Julia, Michael, Charlotte.

Victorian history of Catholic Club

Grangetown Local History Society has received a loan of photos for its archive of some photos reflecting the Catholic history of Grangetown. This wonderful period photo dates from 1896 and is of William and Elizabeth Geddes, steward and stewardess of the Grangetown Catholic Club. William retired from that position after his wife's death in 1900. He was then living at 35 Corporation Road, and also working as a sugar boiler in confectionary. It looks likely that William was in his late 20s, when this photo was taken. His wife died aged only 30 - leaving four children - and William himself died in his early 40s, while a resident in Wedmore Road. They married at St David's RC church in 1891, before setting up home first in Union Street (near the site of the now St Davids shopping centre in the city centre). We also understand that at the time of this photo, the Grangetown Catholic Club was situated on the opposite side of Corporation Road to where it is now. Thanks to Terry Bellew for this photo. William Geddes was from Old Kent Road area of London and Elizabeth is believed to be from a family originating from Cork in Ireland.

Digitised archive passes first milestone

The Grangetown Local History Society has completed the first phase of its project to digitise its archive.

Court Road School in 1909. The old school, which closed and was demolished in the early 1970s, stood where Courtmead Gardens now stands. Photo kindly donated by Terry Harris.

It has a large collection of old photos of people and places in Grangetown going back more than a century and has now worked through the first 1,000 images, with members giving up many hours at weekends to complete this part of the project. The society was awarded a grant by the Communities First Trust Fund to enable them to start the archiving. This is a scheme funded by the Welsh Government and administered by WCVA. The fundingl enabled the society to have 1,000 items scanned and saved to CDs, thus ensuring the availability of this material for future generations.

Copies are being presented of CDs to St Paul's Church-in-Wales Primary School and the captain of the Salvation Army in Grangetown.

Pictured above is a splendid photo, donated to the society by Terry Harris, of Court Road School in about 1909. This will be among the next phase of photographs to be digitised.

The Society also already gives presentations and displays via its projector and computer, and there are already a selection of our archive on the society's website and on the Grangetown community website giving a history of the area online.

As well as selection, the photos needed to be properly recorded and labelled before scanning. Thanks must be expressed to the stalwarts of the society for giving of their own time to help out. We always welcome new additions to the archive - and are happy to scan and return photos after use.

School days at the end of the war

Grangetown Local History Society - and the website - are grateful for new inclusions for its archive, which is growing year-on-year and is gradually being digitised.

This latest image is from Robert Parker (picture third from the right, front row). It's of the Grange Council School in 1945. Do you recognise anyone in the photo? Perhaps it was you or a relative. Let us know.

Boxing in the back street

Another image is Harry Lewis (born 1906) who was a champion walker and lived in Clive Street. He will be featured in the next book by Grangetown Local History Society, but here is a taster - a photo of him working for Currans, and also pictured with the local boxing club he ran from the garage of his house - here he is with the boys in Clive Street lane.

Curran's wartime factory - at work and play

Curran's Sports Day in the Curran's Field off Penarth Road, c1945-46. The woman on the left in the white shorts is Gerald's grandmother Bessie Fish, and the woman running on the right is his mother Ivy Escott. One of his memories of the sports day was buying a Lyons fruit pie, then square in shape, from the marquee.

The photo on the right is the Curran's factory girls during World War Two, with Bessie Fish again in the back row (second right). Carolyn Wood writes that the girl in the back row, fourth from the right is her late mother Louise (Lou) Orum (later Candy.) The photo would date from after June 1944, as Lou did not arrive in Cardiff until then, having lived in London. She would have probably have had a transfer from one of the London munition factories, where she worked in them from the age of 14 in October 1939. She worked at Curran's for a number of years (travelling from Richmond Rd and then Llandaff North). It was not a nice job, but apparently the pay was good. © Photos: Gerald Escott.

More Grangetown memories

Margaret and Bob Stevens (pictured with Bobby in about 1908)

Margaret and Bob Stevens were both were passionate supporters of the Labour Party and in 1945 Margaret helped a young, impoverished candidate by turning his shirt cuffs. He won the election and was MP for Cardiff South for over 30 years, his name - Jim Callaghan.

Bob worked on the docks all his life and was always heavily involved in local politics. He became a shop steward and fought for better conditions for the dockers and at election time the whole family would be in the Labour Party rooms printing leaflets and making up the boards for the kids to parade around the streets.

He also loved his allotment where he grew enough vegetables for the family and also half of Hewell Street! Bob was also very knowledgeable about herbs and their uses. He would regularly make up mixtures for the people of lower Grangetown and story has it that he once cured a young girl of St Vitus Dance!

Material submitted by Pauline Stevens and are featured in the third volume of Grangetown memories, published by Grangetown Local History Society in 2013

1951: Party time in Earl Street

We have been donated a picture of some "glamour gals" at a Festival of Britain Party in 1951 in Earl Street. We now have most of the names: Back Row: ? Mrs Nicholas Gainey ?Sarah Letton (3rd in) Shirley Barnett Marion Nicholas Middle Row: ? Mrs. Coombes Mrs. Attwell Mrs. Rees, Cook Mrs. Dodds, Mrs. Olsen, Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Barnett, Mrs. Buley ? ? Front Row: Mrs. Thorne ? Dollie Stevens Mr Freeman Mr Coombs. Does anyone recognise any we've missed? Let us know if you do.

Six brothers who served their country

The brothers in uniform at their father's funeral in 1915 - back row left to right Ted, Sidney, Frank, John, Tom; front row left to right, Bill, Charles, mother Jane, Ellen, Dolly.

This family photograph shows six Grangetown brothers in uniform. Sadly the Boalch siblings were back home at 38 Knole Street for the funeral of father Frank in 1915.

It wasn't the last family funeral, although all six survived the course of the war. The family story is that one died of shellshock and another was gassed and died of his injuries. These were too late to be counted as dying on active service or to be included on the memorial but they paint a picture of the effects of war.

The six included boy Sidney, a docks labourer who served with the South Wales Borderers. His Army records showed he'd suffered from malaria during the war in Salonika. The family story is that he had been gassed. He died aged 38 in 1927 leaving three children. But his younger brother Tom had already died aged just 24 in 1922 from the effects of shellshock. He fought at Mametz Wood. Brothers Frank (Royal Field Artillery, a barman by trade), Edward (a brakeman) and John (labourer) also served in the Army, while Charles was a stoker in the Royal Navy from before the war and served more than 20 years. Their niece Joan says sadly their young sister Dolly died of TB aged 12. Mother Jane was quite a character and lived to the age of 86. She grew her own vegetables, kept chickens and made her own herb beer - which was a popular local brew which she sold from the door!

These days, we're more used to just getting in the car and heading off to the coast or country.

Back in the post-war 1940s and 1950s, summer days out were more communal, with outings by works and church groups, and even for whole streets to make a date of it on a "chara". Grangetown was not short of them or coach companies who provided the transport. This photo, provided by Ann Williams from around 1950, shows a street trip from Court Road in Saltmead. If you can add more names, let us know. They include: Aunty Florrie Cook; Auntie Edie Snell; Auntie Lizzie; Aunty Joan Cummings; Aunty Mary Gore Raymond; Roger Gore ; Doreen Cook

From a donkey and cart to a business on the boats, which grew and grew

The Society was delighted to receive a collection of photos from the Bowles family, of the F Bowles and Sons company, which was a sand and gravel importers based in Harrowby Street in the Docks, which from humble beginnings grew into an international group. The presentation photo marks an award for a sea rescue. Those pictured are left to right, D. Mostyn Bowles, the vessel's captain who fell overboard, a crew member who rescued him and the crewman's mother. If anyone has any more information about this event please contact us! The dredger pictured is the Bowstar, which was built on Tyneside in 1950. All the company's vessels had "Bow" in the names. The collection is being archived.

The story goes back to 1896 when, aged 12, Joseph Bowles left a small school at Cardiff Docks on a Friday afternoon and by the following Monday morning was in business on his own account as a haulage contractor and firewood merchant. His assets consisted of a donkey and cart. He painted his name on the side of the cart but as Joe was a minor his father (Frederick, a native of Merthyr and fireman at an ironworks) pointed out that he should paint the name "F. Bowles and Sons" instead. The business grew and the loads got heavier and the teams of horses were replaced by mechanical power. Joe had seven brothers and one of the younger ones George then joined the firm. So the combination of Joseph and George saw the firm of F. Bowles and Sons enlarge from being merely a firm of hauilers carting other people's sand and gravel to dredger owners themselve. A second hand coasting vessel was purchased and converted to a sand dredger for operating in the Bristol Channel.

The Bowcrest and the Camerton being unloaded. Click on the photos for full size images.

Other vessels were to follow until the time came that the repair on the ships led the brothers to purchase a derelict dry dock and re-equip it for their own use. In 1943 the firm became a limited company with the brothers becoming permanent governing directors. At the end of World War II, their sons joined the company. The company was the first to introduce ready mixed concrete into Wales. By 1962 the Bowles Group numbered eight companies and were merged with the Bristol Sand & Gravel Co. Ltd., under a holding company called The British Dredging Co. Ltd., of which the Bowles family were the principal shareholders. They had a fleet of 12 modern suction dredgers with a productive capacity of 4m tons of sand and gravel per annum. From small beginnings in Cardiff the company became an international concern, their vessels operating in several areas around the coast of Britain and ran their own wharves in France and Holland.

SOME MARL MEMORIES by Gerald Holdham, then of Channel View Road

Going back in the 1950-60s there were quite a lot of gamblers from around lower Grangetown and the Docks, and in the 1950's and early 1960's they had street bookies. A lot of people used to like to bet on horses. It was late in the 1960s that they opened betting shops that were legal so that was the end of the street bookie.

I used to play snooker up the Stute (in Earl Street lane) and we would play for money, I was a good player so I nearly always won. Then on a Saturday and a Sunday in the summer, we would go over the Marl by Bowles where the boat used to drop the sand, and we would play pitch-and-toss. We played with old money at the time old half-crowns old ten bob notes, old pound notes and old five pound notes. We used to start playing about dinner time and finish sometimes late in the night.

A player would bet on his two coins hoping to head his two coins and if he headed them again he would double up his bet until he tailed his two coins, then he was out of the game. Then somebody else would have a go and if he kept on heading them there would be a big pot of money on the floor. And if they kept heading they would all get skint and that was the end of the game.

So this certain person what he did years ago, he said to the gamblers "The first one to strip and run around the Marl, the first one back will have the money that I have left on the floor." So they went running around the Marl with nothing on! I used to live in Channel View Road which was right in front of the Marl so when the women in that street saw what was going on they phoned the Police who came out on their bikes. And the police said to the women I can't catch them - after all they are only after their beer money.

My mate and I used to go to Newport dogs on a Friday and Cardiff dogs on a Saturday it was a great night out. I would like to say my mate was one of the best bookmakers in Cardiff - a Grangetown boy; unfortunately, he got killed a few years ago. He will be sadly missed.

A Saltmead church long gone

The history society have been given some old photos of a church which used to be a feature of North Grangetown. St Barnabas Church was in Maitland Place, where a flats development now stands. The small Church-in-Wales church was a small hall. Our secretary Ian Clarke has been doing some research, and it appears the church was in use from around 1923 until about 1960. If anyone has any memories of the church, please let us know.

Drying tonight. Do you remember this?

Have you any memories of the Crystal Laundry?

The old building in Redlaver Street was demolished in 2002 and is now flats. It's thought to have been open until the mid 1980s.

Rita Chaplin (nee Jones) Adelaide, South Australia (pictured above - to the left).

When I worked in the Crystal Laundry in the late 1950s my job was standing all day, sorting clothes that had been washed. You had to hold them under a blue light to see the numbers and names and then put them into racks. The racks where the clothes were put were like little wooden boxes and each box had a different number. It was noisy in there and we didn't talk much because we had to concentrate on the numbers and make sure we put them in the right hole. It was very steamy with all the usual smells of wet clothes drying. I remember the long, long rollers which used to roll the wet sheets through, steam everywhere. People who used to stand and catch the sheets coming out dry had to be quick otherwise the tips of their fingers would get burned. My mother, Iris Jones nee Davies (pictured on the right) also worked there; she was a "champion" ironer doing all the shirts and when they were finished and folded they looked like a brand new shirt you had just bought from the shop. She also used to iron all the "special" stuff like ladies petticoats and underwear. At home Dad's shirts were always displayed in a similar fashion. Wasn't he lucky!

Rita StevensRita Spinola nee Stevens, Llanmaes Street, Grangetown

In 1954 I went to work in the Crystal Laundry, I had just left school at the age of 15. I think the boss there at the time was a Mr. Yendle. I worked 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and as far as I can remember the pay was £2.10s.0d a week. I worked on shirts. There was this long metal sleeve which was hot, so you put the sleeve over it to get the creases out and then someone else would press the rest of the shirt with the steamer. I also learned how to fold shirts - you had to make sure there was a three finger space between the collar and the fold.

I also worked on a machine called a calender - I liked that as you just stood there and held the end of the sheet and fed it in. The only thing I didn't like was the smell, but you soon got used to it. Before going there I had put my name down on the waiting list for the Horrockes' Factory (Peggy Ann) and when a vacancy came up there I left the Crystal Laundry, so I didn't work in the laundry for very long.

Did you work there? Email us

SEARCHING OUT HER ANCESTORS Jan Lucocq came along to our March meeting look at the MILDON ARCHIVE and met Steven and Sid who are descendants from the Grangetown builder Samuel Mildon - (pictured above right) and they had a long chat about their common ancestors and looked at all the interesting material which has been donated to our archive by Steven and Sid over the years. Pictured above left to right are Sid, Steve and Jan. Jan also congratulated us on our "excellent web page with so much information freely available."

Ann (nee Williams) and Brian Davies brought along some interesting photographs of street parties in Allerton Street. Above is Ann pictured at work in Freeman's Cigar Factory. Ann also brought a photo subsequently of Court Road School in the 1940s, which is pictured below. Here are a few names - if anyone can fill in the gaps, let us know: Teacher: Miss Rees. Top Row: Dawn Stuart, Rita Rowlands, Silvia, Kathleen Condran, Pat Rowlands, June Selio, June Steel. Second row from left: ? ?, Pat Barry, Kathleen Johnson ? Valerie White ? Olive Watkins Jannete Zat. Bottom row from left: Laura Williams ? Jean Gerrade, Ann Williams, Pat McConkey, Bebe Gibson.

Court Road School. Click for the full size photo.

© Grangetown Local History Society 2016. Updated August 9th