On 21 March 1900, local authority approval was granted for a building on the northern side of James Street, at its junction with the pathway which ran alongside the Glamorganshire Canal. It comprised two shops on the ground floor, each with a basement, while a central doorway gave access to offices on the first and second floors. With re-numbering a few years later, the shops became 68 and 72 James Street, while the offices were number 70.
Designed by Cardiff architect Edgar Down, the premises were erected for Rose & Co., Engineers, who were based at Royal Stuart Buildings on the opposite side of James Street. The proprietor, Joseph Rose, was born in Leake, near Boston, Lincolnshire, so it is perhaps reasonable to presume that this is the origin of the name Boston Buildings, which still appears in wrought ironwork above the roofline. The arms of the pre-1974 Borough of Boston are carved into the stonework at one corner.
Earliest occupants of the office space were shipowners and brokers, but with the gradual decline in Cardiff’s importance as a port, later tenants ranged more widely to include printing, stockbroking and insurance businesses, along with professionals such as solicitors, accountants and consulting engineers.
Throughout the first quarter of the 20th century, the shop at 68 James Street was occupied by a butcher, Thomas Morgan (later T Morgan & Sons). But by 1929 the unit had been taken over by Kristensen & Due, ships’ chandlers, who remained until at least the 1970s; during much of this time, Mr Kristensen also served as the Danish Consul in Cardiff. It is less easy to trace occupancy of the second shop; during the 1950s to 1970s, though, the tenant was a tobacconist, Anthony Nethercott. While Mary Traynor’s 1986 sketch identifies it as a general store and snack bar, a well-known cigarette brand is still prominently advertised.
In more recent years, number 68 served as the Somali Advice and Information Centre, while 72 was an office of the Flying Start family support programme. Today the shop units are occupied by an estate agent and a property management company.
David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer
- Mary Traynor Collection (ref.: D1093/1/4)
- Cardiff Borough Records, plans for new premises, James Street, 1900 (ref.: BC/S/1/14110)
- Cardiff Borough Records, Glamorganshire Canal Navigation, Memorandum of Agreement, 1904 (ref.: BC/GCA/4/162)
- Various Cardiff Directories
- 1881 – 1901 Censuses
- Google Streetview