Roath Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was situated on the corner of City Road and Newport Road . Built around 1860 it was a substantial building reputedly able to seat 1000. The Roath Road Magazine was originally established as the magazine of the Roath Road Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School (DX320/3/2/i-iii). From November 1914 it was published monthly as the ‘Roath Road Roamer’ (RRR) to provide news on the war and, in particular, the fortunes of service men and women associated with the Roath Road Wesleyan Church, School and Congregation serving in the armed forces (DAWES6). It was distributed throughout the area and sent overseas to provide soldiers, families and friends with news from home and updates on colleagues serving in the forces. In particular, it featured photographs and letters from soldiers serving overseas.
From the outset the intention was that the magazine should feature the contribution made by the women of the parish and, in particular, those ‘in uniform’. Altogether, the magazine included details of 19 women from the Roath area. Many were sisters of serving soldiers, sailors and airmen and the magazine included photographs of 17 of the 19 and several letters. Referred to in the magazine as ‘our Lady Roamers’ the short pen pictures featured over the coming weeks provide an insight into how the war resulted in women moving into roles and occupations previously dominated by men.
At the outset of the war possibly the most obvious route for women looking to contribute to the war effort was to take up the call for volunteers made by both local charities and national bodies such as the Red Cross. Seven of the women featured in the magazine took this route. However, later in the War, as a result of the shortage of manpower following the introduction of conscription in 1916, opportunities opened up for women in many new areas of work. By 1918 Lady Roamers were also to be found in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, the Royal Air Force, the Land Army and local services including the railways and the post. Furthermore, from their letters we know that several served overseas.
The Soldiers’ Rest – Muriel Ingram
The Red Cross was just one route for those looking to volunteer during the War and many worked for local charities. In Volume 49, ‘The Roamer’ featured the story of Muriel Ingram – another Roath Roamer from Richmond Road. In 1918 ‘The Roamer’ reported:
‘On Friday 12th July last, in the Council Chamber of the Cardiff City Hall, amongst other local ladies who received a beautifully designed Badge in appreciation of War Services rendered on behalf of ‘that splendid fellow, the British Soldier’, was Miss Muriel Ingram, the sister of the Roamer who appears on our first page. Miss Ingram has done excellent work in connection with the Soldiers’ Rest, St Mary Street, and we are exceedingly glad that her services have been recognised. The badge was granted and presented by Lieut-General Sir William Pitcairn Campbell, Commanding-in chief the Western Command’ (Vol.46, p.2).
The brother referred to was Geoffrey Ingram who served with the 14th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment and was wounded in the latter months of the War.
Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer