John Humphrey England, a Londoner, came to Cardiff around 1840 and set up in business. When, in 1841, he married Ann Rees at St John’s Church, he described himself as a dealer in provisions. At the 1851 census, he was a hay dealer. By 1861, though, the census records him as a potato merchant, and it is that commodity with which the England family came to be most closely associated for more than a century afterwards.
John and Ann had a large family – at least 8 sons and 7 daughters – and several of the sons took up their father’s trade. By the 1880s, Richard England (born 1851) and Edward England (born 1859) had separate potato importing businesses at the Head of Bute West Dock. Following Richard’s death in 1907, and Edward’s in 1917, the businesses passed to their respective children. Richard England Ltd appears to have ceased operating around 1960, while Edward England Ltd remained in family ownership until 2003, when the company was sold to Mason Potatoes Ltd.
The warehouse on the left of this picture was designed for Richard England in 1884, by local architect, E M Bruce Vaughan. Photographs taken in 1955 show this building still displaying the name ‘Richard England Ltd’ along its parapet. Latterly, though, it appears to have housed Edward England Ltd.
Records are less helpful in identifying the building to the right, though it does pre-date Richard England’s warehouse. It might have been a bonded store, which successive Cardiff directories list as standing at the West Dock Head. From about 1929, the bonded warehouse formed part of the business of Frazer & Company, who also operated as ship store merchants in Bute Street. Frazers remained in occupation until at least the 1970s.
All the buildings depicted here were converted into residential apartments around the turn of the millennium; the complex is now known as Edward England Wharf.
David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer
- Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/28]
- Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan for a warehouse, West Dock, for Richard England, 1884 [BC/S/1/4609]
- Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan for (plan for additions to a warehouse, West Bute Dock, for Edward England, 1895 [BC/S/1/10775]
- Debenham Tewson Solicitors, Cardiff, Bute Estate Collection, assignment of lease from Richard Travell England to Richard England Ltd, 9 Feb 1915 [DBDT/110/3]
- South Wales Echo, 27 Aug 1887
- Evening Express, 12 Oct 1907
- 1851 and 1861 censuses
- Registrar General’s indexes of Births and Deaths
- Marriage register of St John’s Church, Cardiff
- Various Cardiff directories
- Williams, Stewart, Cardiff Yesterday, vol. 10, images 41-42