Nos. 5 & 7 Cathedral Road, Cardiff

These were probably among the earliest houses to be built in Cathedral Road.  Prior to the numbering of properties, they were known as Leonida Villa (no. 5) and Bryn Tawel Villa (no. 7).  A photograph, thought to have been taken around 1871 from the clock tower of Cardiff Castle, includes a building which looks very much like this one, albeit without the bay window, and with very few neighbouring properties.  However, its history goes back at least a further decade as Bryn Tawel Villa appears in the 1861 census, when it was occupied by Thomas Morgan, a 53 year old retired grocer and his daughter, Catherine, aged 24.  They were still there is 1871 but Thomas died in May 1875 and Catherine in September 1876.  By 1881, a 29 year old master printer, William D. Jones, was in residence along with his widowed mother, Elvena.  None of these censuses seem to include entries for Leonida Villa – nor has it been found in contemporary directories.

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1891 again sees a Morgan household in Bryn Tawel, headed by Palmer Morgan – another retired grocer, but we don’t know whether he was related to Thomas and Catherine.  It is at this date that Leonida Villa first appears, occupied by Charles Arkell, an outfitter, with his wife and family.  The 1901 census saw further changes with Sarah A. Davies at number 7 (Bryn Tawel).  Although married, her husband seems to have been absent on census day since she was listed only with a servant.  Number 5 (Leonida) was now occupied by Mary Ann Allgood.

By 1908, John James Chaddock, an Assistant Superintendent in the Post Office, was at number 7, and Mrs Mary Evans at number 5.  In 1909, she obtained building approval for an extension over the porch, which can be clearly seen in the drawing.   Mrs Evans remained until at least 1920 but Chaddock had left by 1913, when number 7 was occupied by John Lyal Williams, an elementary school teacher who worked at the Metal Street Council School and was also active in the Welsh Schools Rugby Union.  He stayed until his death in November 1945.  His son, John George Williams, born in 1913, became a noted ornithologist who spent much of his life as a curator at the Kenyan National Museum in Nairobi.

The 1955 Cardiff Directory lists Kenneth J. Williams at number 7 but by 1964 the house had become offices, occupied by accountants and estate agents.

In the 1932 Cardiff Directory, David Rees Jones, a medical practitioner, is at number 5, where he remained until his death on 7 January 1971.

Mary Traynor drew the building in 1980, since when it has been demolished and replaced by a modern office building known as Carlyle House.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/22]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan for a new toilet for a villa, Cathedral Road, 1876 [BC/S/1/603]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan for alterations to a house, Cathedral Road, 1876 [BC/S/1/650]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan for room over porch, 5 Cathedral Road, 1909 [BC/S/1/17131]
  • 1871 – 1911 censuses
  • Various Cardiff and south Wales directories
  • The Medical Directory, 1967
  • Jones, Bryan, Canton (Images of Wales series)
  • Registrar General’s indexes of Births and Marriages
  • England & Wales National Probate Calendars 1875, 1876, 1945, 1971 & 1978
  • Western Mail, 6 Nov 1945
  • http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/obituary-j-g-williams-1138759.html
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South Wales & West of England Standard Manufacturing Company Ltd., Bute Street & Herbert Street, Cardiff

The South Wales and West of England Standard Manufacturing Company Ltd appears to have established its Cardiff operation shortly before World War I.  No reference has been found prior to 1913, but that year’s Western Mail Directory lists the company at 43 Bute Street.  By 1915, they occupied substantial corner premises fronting onto both Bute Street and Herbert Street, where their business embraced the manufacture and wholesale supply of dungaree overalls, khaki & white drills, shirts, singlets, and oilskins.  During 1915, the company was contracted to manufacture several thousand kit bags for the Welsh Army Corps at a unit price of 1/11½d (slightly less than 10p).

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In 1940, the company received building approval to extend their factory and it is thought that Mary Traynor’s drawing depicts the Herbert Street frontage of this extension, for which plans were drawn up by Cardiff architect, T. Elvet Llewellyn.

By the 1950s, the company was marketing its products under the brand name Stamana (presumably a contraction of STAndard MANufActuring) and directories indicate that they were still operating from the same premises – by then known as Stamana House – into the 1970s.  The building has since been demolished; part of its site has been taken for road widening, while the remainder is now a grassed and landscaped area on the east side of Bute Street between Herbert Street and the pedestrian and cycle path passing under the Cardiff Bay railway.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/21]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan of extension to factory premises at 42 Bute Street, 1940 [BC/S/1/34142]
  • Western Mail Cardiff Directory, 1913
  • The City and Port of Cardiff – Official Handbook, 1955
  • Kelly’s Directory of Cardiff, 1972
  • http://cymru1914.org/cy/view/archive_file/3907059/3

Nonpareil Market, James Street, Cardiff

Over the next few weeks our blog will once again highlight a collection which helps to record the changing face of Cardiff and south Wales.  In June 2014 Glamorgan Archives received a very interesting and unique deposit from Mary Traynor, a Cardiff based artist who, since the late 1960s, has tried to capture buildings in Cardiff and the surrounding area which are at threat of demolition.  Her work has been displayed in various exhibitions over the years and highlights many buildings that have since been lost.  The collection contains her sketchbooks and loose works, some of which had previously been framed and on display.  These sketches and paintings complement many other series of records held in the archives, providing a valuable source to those researching the history of buildings in the area.

Glamorgan Archives volunteer David Webb has been using these records to undertake research into the histories of some of the buildings featured in Mary Traynor’s works of art.

The Nonpareil Market stood on the corner of James Street and Louisa Street, in Cardiff’s Butetown.  It was 48 & 49 James Street until about 1905 when the street was re-numbered and it became 27 & 29.

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A carved stone plaque above the third storey of number 27 (formerly 49) reads ‘The Nonpareil Market 1889’ and this is something of a mystery.  The premises were already in existence prior to that year – approval to add the third storey was sought as early as 1871.  In 1889, Frederick Ward, a butcher, received building approval for alterations to both 48 and 49 so it may be assumed that the plaque was installed as part of this work.  However, the reason for doing so remains unclear.  Nonpareil is a word of French origin, meaning unequalled or unrivalled, but no record has been found of the name ‘Nonpareil Market’ being used either as an address or business name there.  Ward’s business was based at number 49, while 48 was a grocery shop operated by the well-known entrepreneur, Solomon Andrews.  Since Andrews was also engaged in the building trade, it is tempting to speculate that he might have been behind the erection of the plaque – but no evidence has been found to that effect.

Ward & Co, Shipping Butchers were still listed here in Kelly’s 1972 Directory – having, by then, expanded into Solomon Andrews’ former shop, but Mary Traynor’s drawing shows that the premises were bricked up by 1980.  The building was subsequently demolished as part of a larger-scale redevelopment. Some of the site was taken for road widening, while the remainder is now occupied by modern flats fronting onto Louisa Place.  The ‘Nonpareil Market’ plaque has been re-installed close to its original location, in an archway over a footpath into the new development.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/20]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan of alterations to 49 James Street, 1871 [BC/S/1/90569]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan of alterations to 48 & 49 James Street, 1889 alterations [BC/S/1/7416]
  • Butcher’s Cardiff District Directory, 1882-83
  • Kelly’s Directory of Cardiff, 1972
  • http://wearecardiff.co.uk/2014/04/18/100-days-in-cardiff-the-non-pareil-market/
  • Williams, Stewart, Cardiff Yesterday, vol. 31, image 69

“Get your butty to wash your back”: Pithead Baths in the South Wales Coalfield

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DNCB/79/8/188: Three unidentified Colliers, Caerau Bath Opening, 6 Mar 1954

As the Glamorgan’s Blood project continues, material concerning the colliery pithead baths comes to light within the Glamorgan Archives collection.

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DNCB/66/197: Pithead Baths, Treharris, General view of the pithead baths, c. 1921

The introduction of pithead baths from the 1920s onwards was a huge benefit to those working in the south Wales coalfield. Before the pithead baths, miners would return home from work in dirty clothes, wet from water in the pit and sweat, increasing the hazards of mine work by adding the danger of contracting illness. The introduction of the pithead baths offered some protection against these types of ailments, with showering and changing facilities allowing miners to return home in clean and dry clothing. 1

Washing at the pithead baths also meant that miners were not having to wash at home in the family sitting room, a task that often required the miner’s wife to prepare the miners’ bath and clean and wash his dirty clothes, tasks that brought coal dust and dirt into the family home. The preparation of the bath water was also dangerous to the miner’s family as:

…many children were badly scalded – and often died – as a result of falling into prepared bath water or upsetting water which was being boiled in readiness for the bath. One south Wales coroner claimed that he conducted more inquests into the deaths of children who were scaled than he did into miners who were killed underground. 2

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DNCB/66/3: Penallta Miner bathing, c.1930

One of the main areas of the National Coal Board collection concerning the Pithead Baths is the colliery building plans collection. As part of the Glamorgan’s Blood project the archivist and project conservator are currently working simultaneously to catalogue the material and assess it for conservation treatment and storage requirements.

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DNCB/1/4/2/10: Abercynon Pithead Baths, Apr 1950

The wide range of sizes, processes and materials present in this collection pose a variety of conservation issues and requirements in terms of storage, access to the material and long term preservation. The plans for the pithead baths in the NCB collection display a variety of different techniques and processes for producing architectural drawings.  Diazotypes, blueprints and pencil and ink drawings appear most frequently on a range of substrates.  Examples of wash-off prints, gel-lithographs and silver halide prints also appear in this collection, displaying different conservation issues.  The most pressing conservation challenge is the heavily degraded acetate support used as both a tracing material and as a negative to create duplicate plans, appearing in this collection as a base for both pencil and ink drawings and diazotypes. The majority of these acetate plans display advanced plastic deterioration in the form of embrittlement which has caused them to crack and shatter, making them impossible to produce in the searchroom.  Digitisation of these plans will be the only way to make them accessible, as options are limited in terms of conservation treatment and long term preservation of this type of material.

 

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DNCB/60/65/4: Example of a Shattered Plan, Acetate, 1951

The plans show the pithead bath facilities from collieries across south Wales, dating so far from between the 1930s-1970s. Through floor plans, site plans and elevations researchers will be able to see what facilities were on offer to colliery workers, including separate clean and dirty entrances and locker rooms, shower facilities, boot cleaning areas, medical treatment centres and canteens. On nationalisation these facilities became ‘a necessary piece of equipment for production’ and the plans and other material within the Glamorgan Archives collection will ensure that these buildings, now mostly vanished from the south Wales landscape, are recorded for future generations.

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DNCB/1/4/13/2-3: Perspective Views of Cwm Colliery Pithead Baths, Jun 1952

Louise Clarke, Glamorgan’s Blood Project Archivist

Stephanie Jamieson, Glamorgan’s Blood Project Conservator

  1. Evans, Neil; Jones, Dot, ‘A Blessing for the Miner’s Wife: the campaign for pithead baths in the South Wales coalfield, 1908-1950’, Llafur : Journal of Welsh Labour History, p.7
  2. Evans, Neil; Jones, Dot, p.6

Glamorgan’s Christmas Past

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

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As we enter the final few Christmas shopping days it’s interesting to look back at what our forebears were buying for their Christmases. The papers of Sybil Rolley of Fairwater, Cardiff (ref.: D790), held at Glamorgan Archives, shows what one family were purchasing for their Christmas celebrations.

One volume records their budgets for every Christmas from 1951 to 1965, documenting their meal and the cost of ‘extras’ such as decorations and presents! Of course it also records the increase in the price of Christmas over the period, and the variety of food and presents people received. The Christmas food recorded included, among other things, Ideal milk, tins of tongue, blancmange, and Turkish Delight. More familiar to our current Christmas shopping lists would be Cadbury’s Chocolate Biscuits, Tango and boxes of Milk Tray.

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Presents that are shown on the list include chisels, the record ‘Mary’s Boy Child’, cigarettes, and a nylon slip with a £1 note. There are none of the more familiar items we might ask for nowadays, like toys or electronics.

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This is not the only Christmas themed archive we hold. Amongst others are the records of the David Morgan Department Store (ref.: DDM), which include many photographs of the shop during the festive season. From the themed ‘Old Woman who lived in a Shoe’ of the 1930s, to the bunny girl elves and burly Santa of the 1960s, and the famous ‘wall of crackers’, we have a selection of photos documenting the history of the store at Christmas.  They illustrate the changing styles and fashions of the Christmas period while David Morgan traded in Cardiff.

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We hope all our followers have a wonderful festive season.

Merry Christmas!

‘Humorous Entertainment of Artistic Magic’: Cardiff Naturalists’ Society Supporting the War Effort

One of the more usual items in the records of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society held at the Glamorgan Archives is a poster (28cm by 43cm) with accompanying postcard size flyers advertising an afternoon of ‘Humorous Entertainment of Artistic Magic including Sleight of Hand, Novel Magical Effects and Oriental Magic’. To be held at the Cory Hall in Cardiff, on January 6 1919 at 2pm, the show was to be provided by Mr Douglas Dexter, ‘The well-known entertainer of London’. In addition, ‘musical items’ were to be provided by Mr Shapland Dobbs’ Party.

Poster

While the subject matter covered by the lectures provided by the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society was wide and varied, this was, without a doubt, a new departure for a Society created for the study of the natural sciences. The explanation was provided on the back of the flyers.

Ticket

Ticket reverse

This invitation is issued by the members of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society who desire to give a pleasant afternoon to members of the Forces who happen to be in Cardiff.

Although the war had ended with the Armistice of 11 November 1918, there were thousands of men and women serving in the armed forces waiting to be demobilised. In January 1919 Cardiff was a major hub for troops returning to south Wales. There were also a number of military hospitals in the town and the surrounding area. The Cardiff Naturalists’ Society was clearly looking to play its part in helping to provide entertainment for the armed forces. The concert may also have been a contribution to ‘Gratitude Fortnight’, a series of events organised by the Mayor of Cardiff, in January 1919, to reward the troops and raise money for charities including the King’s Fund for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors. The entertainment was provided free of charge for ‘Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen (whether British, Colonial or Allied). On leave or in Hospital’. The Society was anticipating a large turn-out for the Cory Hall was a much bigger venue than that used for most of its public lectures. Even so, the flyers warned that:

It is regretted that the accommodation will not permit the admission of others than men in uniform.

Dexter was indeed well known. Born Arthur Marks in Eastbourne in 1878 and a teacher by profession, Douglas Dexter made his mark as both an accomplished magician and as an international class swordsman who was selected for the British team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. On the afternoon of 6 January those present would have witnessed the skills of a leading figure in the Magic Circle. Dexter’s repertoire included tricks, such as the Triple Stab, that he guarded jealously, so much so that he sued a fellow magician for allegedly stealing his ideas. The reference to artistic magic was probably to a trick that Dexter was developing at that time that involved white silk scarves being placed in an empty bowl and mysteriously emerging coloured as if they had been dipped in dye.

In the Transactions for 1919 it was reported:

… an entertainment was held at the Cory Hall under the auspices of the Society, to which all of the wounded sailors and soldiers in the Military Hospitals were invited. Over 700 attended and had a thoroughly enjoyable time [Transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, Vol LII, 1919, Cardiff, 1922].

No doubt Douglas Dexter was well received by the service men and women. Dexter went on to perform in a number of Royal Variety Performances and for King George V at Windsor Castle in 1928. He was awarded the Gold Medal by the Magic Circle in 1926. For the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, however, it was back to business later in the month with a lecture by Dr A E Trueman, on 23 January 1919, ‘A Geographical Study of the Cardiff Area’.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’: The Transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society

The Report and Transactions produced annually by the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society provide a treasure trove of material on all aspects of the natural sciences. By 1900 the Society was flourishing, with over 500 members and separate sections for archaeology, biology, geology, physics and chemistry. The reports and papers produced by the sections were collated each year and published as a record of the Society’s activities and as a contribution towards the wider understanding of the natural sciences. Bound volumes of the Report and Transactions from the creation of the Society in 1867 through to 1970 can be found on the shelves of the searchroom at Glamorgan Archives. Dipping into just one of the books (for example, the volume that draws together reports for 1897 to 1902) you are struck, immediately, by the range of material produced by members of the Society. There is something for most tastes and interests with papers on:

The Excavations carried out on the site of the Blackfriars Monastery at Cardiff

The Birds of Glamorgan

Effects of a lightning flash

The Great Flood of 1607

Notes on the Psalter of Ricemarch

Notes on the hatchery and fish hatching at Roath Park

The Geology of the Cowbridge District

Meteorological observations in the society’s district.

However, if you are looking for a recommendation why not try a piece provided by Robert Drane in Vol. 33, ‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’? Drane was one of the leading lights of the Society from its creation in 1867 to his death in 1914. He was the first life member of the Society and its President in 1896-97. His interests were wide ranging and he was a regular contributor to the Report and Transactions. In the article titled ‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’, first delivered as a lecture to the Biological section of the Society on 15 December 1898, he set out the findings from one of his many visits to the islands off the Pembrokeshire coast.

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In the report Drane provides detailed observations on the wildlife and the local flora and fauna that he found on the islands in June 1898. His writing is characterised by an unerring eye for detail, whether assessing the stomach contents of a Herring Gull, the physical characteristics of the Skomer vole or the varieties of Broom found on Ramsey Island. He evidently delighted in attempting to debunk existing theories and local folk lore and, in particular, the suggestion that ‘nothing can be false that’s once in print’. For example, in the paper he contends that the Skomer vole was most likely a new and distinctive species and, therefore, challenging the view of …an authority at the Natural History Museum… that they are a local variety of the common bank vole. He also concludes that the Herring Gull on Skomer prefers a diet of eggs, including Puffin eggs, rather than local reports that its staple diet was rabbit.

The core of the paper lies in his investigation of three areas. In Drane’s words he set out to:

…determine the question of the specific difference of the Ringed and Common Guillemot, to find out what the Shearwater feeds on, and obtain some specimens of a large Vole, abundant there, which I am disposed to regard as an Island variety.

He reports in detail on each subject. However, as always with Robert Drane, you are provided with much more. For example, he condemns the …rapacious egg collectors… on Grassholm, praises the owner of Ramsey for his care of the island’s population of Choughs and quizzes the keepers of the South Bishop’s lighthouse on the range and number of birds observed.

The report is also peppered with titbits of information from his observation that a Puffin on Skomer had 39 sand eels in its crop to the sighting of a Dew moth on Ramsey Island. Drane, who was 65 at the time, and his travelling companion, a fellow member and later President of the Society, J J Neale, must have amused and alarmed the local people as they edged out over cliff faces to observe Guillemot nests and carried off puff-ball fungus to be cooked and eaten. With regard to the latter he reported:

We took it home and, sliced it, fried it, and ate it for breakfast much to the doubt, if not to the disgust of the natives, who subsequently finding that we suffered no harm regarded us as gods…

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Robert Drane and Joshua John Neale, both members of Cardiff Naturalists Society, c.1900 ref.: DXIB23d

For a rich and detailed account of the wildlife on the Pembrokeshire Islands with a slice of humour and local colour ‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’ is well worth a read. As for the title, Drane enjoyed setting his audience a challenge. A previous paper titled ‘A Pilgrimage to Golgotha’ had evidently left many mystified as to its possible content. Robert Drane explained that ‘Olla podrida with Nescio quidquid Sauce’ had, therefore, been carefully selected …so that everyone here tonight perfectly understands… what I am going to talk about…  Perhaps I will leave you to work it out for yourself. Drane’s explanation is at page 59 of Vol. 33. Why not have a look?

If you are interested in finding out more Robert Drane and the many and varied reports produced by the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, bound copies of the Annual Report and Transactions for 1867 to 1970 can be found on shelves of the Searchroom at Glamorgan Archives.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer