Adamsdown School

When Cardiff School Board was established in 1875, one of its priorities was the provision of a school for 800 children in the ecclesiastical district of All Saints.  To address this need, they quickly established Adamsdown Temporary School in the schoolroom under Mount Tabor Chapel (now the Jewish Reform Synagogue) in Moira Terrace.  The Board subsequently acquired, from the Marquess of Bute, a site on the north-western side of Adamsdown Square and a new school, designed by local architect W. D. Blessley, and built by Samuel Shepton, opened on 31 April 1879.

d1093-2- 024 Adamsdown School_compressed

Over the next twenty years or so, the school appears to have been extended more than once, and by 1901 it was reported to have accommodation for 888 scholars.

A replacement primary school opened in 1985, in nearby System Street.  The Adamsdown Square building then closed and was demolished in about 1988.  The site is now occupied by two blocks of flats – Windsor Mews and Ty’r Ysgol.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/19]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan of Adamsdown Board School, South Luton Place, 1878 [BC/S/1/1637]
  • Cardiff School Board Records, minute book of the Sites and Buildings Committee, 1875-1881 [ESB68/21]
  • City of Cardiff Education Week 1932
  • Childs, Jeff, Roath, Splott and Adamsdown – One Thousand Years of History
  • South Wales Daily News, 5 Jan 1899
  • Weekly Mail, 8 September 1900

Flyover, Junction of Tyndall Street and Central Link Road, Cardiff

With the construction of the M4 to the north of Cardiff, work began in the 1970s on developing good links from the motorway into southern and central parts of the city. Recently completed, the Peripheral Distributor Road (A4232) forms a loop, skirting the south of Cardiff between M4 junctions 30 (Cardiff Gate) and 33 (Capel Llanilltern).

d1093-2- 021 Flyover, Junction Tyndall Street & Central Link Road_compressed

d1093-2- 022_compressed

The Central Link Road (A4234) is a spur connecting the A4232 with the city centre.  Built at a cost of £8.5 million, it was opened on 16 February 1989.  Comprising just under a mile of dual carriageway, the road runs from Queensgate roundabout in Cardiff Bay, mainly alongside the former Bute East Dock, to Adam Street.  There is a grade-separated junction where it crosses Tyndall Street, and Mary Traynor’s drawing illustrates the supports carrying the flyover at this point.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

Interior, United Synagogue, Cathedral Road, Cardiff

Although there were Jews living in Cardiff in the 18th century, a Jewish community was not established until the first half of the 19th century.  The town’s first permanent synagogue opened at East Terrace, which now forms the southern end of Churchill Way, in 1858.  In the 1880s, part of the congregation seceded from East Street and established a separate synagogue at Edward Place, off North Edward Street, where the Capitol Centre and Churchill House now stand.  By 1894, the East Terrace congregation had outgrown its building and a site was purchased in Cathedral Road to erect a new synagogue.  The chosen location reflected, in part, the growing prosperity of many Jewish families, who had now moved from the Docks area to Canton and Riverside.

The new synagogue was opened on Wednesday 12 May 1897 in the presence of the United Kingdom Chief Rabbi, Dr Hermann Adler.  Designed by London architect, Delissa Joseph, it could accommodate 241 men on the ground floor and 158 women in the gallery, with provision for future expansion.

d1093-2- 019 Interior, United Synagogue, Cathedral Road_compressed

In 1941, the two Cardiff congregations agreed to merge as the Cardiff United Synagogue.  After the Second World War, many Jewish families moved to the Penylan and Cyncoed areas, which led to the foundation of a new synagogue off Ty Gwyn Road in 1955 (this re-located to Cyncoed Gardens in 2003).  The Cathedral Road synagogue continued to function until 1989, when it finally closed.  Now renamed Temple Court, the interior has been adapted for use as office space.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/15]
  • Cardiff Jewish Community Records and Papers, commemorative booklet to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Cathedral Road Synagogue, 1957 [DJR/5/16]
  • Cardiff Times and South Wales Weekly News, 15 May 1897


Interior, All Saints Church, Adamsdown, Cardiff

The origins of All Saints’, Adamsdown can be traced back to 1856 when the Marchioness of Bute built a church in Tyndall Street – then in the parish of St Mary – to serve Welsh-speaking Anglicans. Within two or three decades though, the demographic of this part of Cardiff had changed; Welsh language provision moved nearer to the town centre and a new parish of Adamsdown was established with services in English. However, surrounded by a predominantly Irish, Roman Catholic population, the Tyndall Street church was isolated from most of its own members.

In 1893, a mission chapel, dedicated to St Elvan, was built in Adamsdown Square. This was closer to the main population centre of the parish and it was subsequently decided to erect a new parish church on the site. Authority to abandon and dispose of the Tyndall Street building required Parliamentary approval, which was granted through the All Saints’ Church (Cardiff) Act 1899.

d1093-2- 020 Interior Chapel, Windsor Road, Adamsdown_compressed

The new All Saints’ was opened on 28 January 1903. A contemporary newspaper report suggests that the architect, John Coates Carter, was required to exercise considerable economy in its design, the chief interior feature being a high pitch-pine screen (which can still be seen in Mary Traynor’s drawing) surmounted by an iron cross. The main entrance faced Windsor Road, at a significantly higher level than Adamsdown Square. This was addressed by building on two floors, with a schoolroom and vestry below the main worship area. A particularly odd feature, which still survives, is the bellcote mounted on a buttress-like structure set at right angles to the west end.

All Saints’ Church closed in 1965 after the parish had been united with St John’s. The building was then used, for many years, as commercial premises – most recently by a dealer in fireplaces and architectural salvage. A further change of use came in about 2012, when the former church was converted into flats.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:
• Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/16]
• Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plan of All Saints’ Church, Windsor Road, 1902 [BC/S/1/14883]
• Evening Express, 26 April 1893; 29 January 1903
• Cardiff Times, 21 January 1899

Co-op Warehouse, Bute Terrace, Cardiff

The co-operative movement – a key element of which is distribution of profits to members according to the level of their purchases – began in 1844 with the Rochdale Pioneers Society in Lancashire.  Further local societies were quickly established throughout the country and, in 1863, the North of England Co-operative Wholesale Industrial and Provident Society Limited  – later to become the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) – came into being.  By the turn of the 20th century there were more than 1,400 co-operative societies across Britain.

On 24 February 1900, CWS leased a piece of land on the corner of Bute Terrace and Mary Ann Street, Cardiff.  Later that year, plans were approved for building a warehouse of two storeys plus a semi-basement.  This occupied only the area covered by the taller block in Mary Traynor’s drawing.  In 1904, they received further approval to add three extra floors to the building.

d1093-2- 018 Co-op Warehouse, Bute Crescent_compressed

Although originally designated as a warehouse, when proposals were submitted, in 1931, to build the lower-rise extension along Mary Ann Street, the main use had clearly changed.  The basement and ground floors were now used for producing butter – the basement of the new extension included cold stores both for butter and meat – while the upper floors served as a shirt factory.  In fact, references to use as a Shirt and Butter factory first appear in the 1929 Cardiff Directory; that description continued into the 1970s.

Since the area has been comprehensively redeveloped, it is no longer easy to identify the exact footprint of the CWS building.  Part of it would have been taken for widening Bute Terrace, while a hotel – which has operated under several names but is currently known as the Park Inn – probably now occupies much of the site.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/14]
  • Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans for a warehouse, Bute Terrace, 1900 [BC/S/1/14127]
  • Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans of a warehouse, Co-operative Wholesale Society, Bute Terrace, 1904 [BC/S/1/15677]
  • Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans for the extension of a warehouse, Co-operative Wholesale Society, Bute Terrace, 1931 [BC/S/1/28023]
  • Lampard Vachell Collection, deed of arrangement as to buildings and windows, 1900 [DVA/19/2-3]
  • Various Cardiff directories, 1890s -1970s

The Original Capel Ebeneser, Cardiff

In 1826, Cardiff’s first congregation of Welsh Independents (Annibynwyr) was established.  Its nucleus was drawn from members of Trinity Church in Womanby Street and their first meeting place was the Old Coach House, which appears to have been a public house in what is now Westgate Street.  Within a year or so, they obtained a site on which to build their own chapel.  Opened on 3 December 1828, Capel Ebeneser stood in what subsequently became Ebenezer Street, running parallel to Queen Street, between Frederick Street and Paradise Place.  As originally built, the chapel was forty feet (twelve metres) long and thirty-three feet (ten metres) wide.

Growing congregations led to the building being extended and upgraded on several occasions, with worship sometimes transferring to the Town Hall while work was under way.  By the start of World War I, it looked very much as it does in Mary Traynor’s drawing.  In this form, the galleried chapel was on the first floor with a schoolroom below.

d1093-2- 017 The Original Capel Ebenezer_compressed

In the late 1970s, this was one of many buildings demolished to make way for St. David’s Centre.  Ebenezer Street ceased to exist and Debenhams’ store opened on the chapel’s former site.  Capel Ebeneser then moved to the former English Congregational Church in Charles Street, which had been vacated when its congregation merged with Presbyterians to form the City United Reformed Church.  In 2010, it was announced that Ebenezer was leaving Charles Street.  The congregation currently worships at Whitchurch Community Centre and the City Church, Windsor Place.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/13]
  • Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plan for extension to Ebenezer Welsh Congregational Chapel, 1892 [BC/S/1/8486]
  • Hughes, Y Parch H M, Hanes Ebenezer Caerdydd 1826 – 1926 (1926)
  • Williamson, John, History of Congregationalism in Cardiff and District (1920)
  • Lee, Brian: Central Cardiff, The Second Selection (‘Images of Wales’ series)
  • Hilling, John B & Traynor, Mary, Cardiff’s Temples of Faith (Cardiff Civic Society, 2000)
  • The Cardiff & Merthyr Guardian, 22 Oct 1853



Imperial Buildings, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff

In the late-19th century, the Imperial Hotel stood in the north-west corner of Mount Stuart Square.  No picture has been found of the building but it was probably not a large establishment.  The 1871 census records that the licensee, Thomas Nixon, had six boarders.  Ten years later, Nixon was still in charge with nine boarders.  By 1901, the proprietress was Emily Jolly, who had just four boarders.

In 1911, the Alliance Buildings Company sought approval to rebuild on the site.  It then embraced two plots at 43 and 44 Mount Stuart Square, though the architect’s drawings show that the company already had ambitions to add future extensions at both ends.  Two years later, a revised plan was submitted, this time incorporating properties at 39, 40, 41 and 42 Mount Stuart Square, and by 1920 the new building was complete.

Faced with glazed white tiles and incorporating fluted columns into its design, the five-storey structure was palatial in appearance.  Imperial Buildings, as it was now called, appears to have been divided into small suites of offices.  Cardiff Directories for the 1920s and 1930s show that it was occupied by a range of businesses, predominantly in the fields of shipping, railways, coal, oil, paint and insurance.  Initially, the ground floor in the northwest angle of the Square was a bar and restaurant, still called Imperial Hotel, but this seems to have gone by the mid-1920s.

In the 1940s, the offices were occupied by government departments, including the Valuation Office, Immigration Service, Ministry of Supply, Welsh Board for Industry, Admiralty, and Board of Trade.  During the Second World War, Imperial Buildings appears to have housed the Naval Flag Officer responsible for defending south Wales ports; it has also been suggested that planning for the 1944 D-Day landings may have been done here – though that cannot be verified.

d1093-2- 015 (Imperial Buildings)_compressed

By 1955, Imperial Buildings was no longer listed in Cardiff directories.  It seems to have remained unused for more than twenty years before demolition in the late 1970s.  Mary Traynor’s drawing dates from this period of decay and depicts the angle between the west and north sides of the Square – where the original hotel stood.  An apartment block was erected on the site in about 2001.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/11]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans for alterations to the Imperial Hotel, 1886 [BC/S/1/5607]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans,  plans of the Imperial Hotel, 1911 [BC/S/1/17740]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, rejected plans for the Imperial Hotel, 1913 [BC/S/1/18796]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans for rebuilding the Imperial Hotel, 1913 [BC/S/1/18890]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans of the Imperial Hotel, 1914 [BC/S/1/18937]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans of Imperial Buildings, 1914 [BC/S/1/19193]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans of Imperial Buildings, 1916 [BC/S/1/19596]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans for propoed rebuilding of 45 Mount Stuart Square, 1923 [BC/S/1/22189]

1871, 1881 and 1901 censuses

Davies, J D, Britannia’s Dragon: A Naval History of Wales

Square peg

Photograph taken in 1974 by David Webb

Various Cardiff directories, 1908 – 1972