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

Houses in Newport Road, Cardiff (Woodfield Place)

Originally known as Woodfield Place, the date stone shows that this terrace was erected in 1860 at the western end of what was then Roath Road.  Subsequently, the properties were incorporated as numbers 10 – 18 in the re-named Newport Road.

Until the 1920s, all five properties seem to have been occupied primarily as private homes.  Clearly, the occupants would be relatively well-off.  In 1892, Dr Herbert Vachell sought building consent to extend his house at number 18, adding a waiting room, consulting room and dispensary.  It is likely that some other residents also practised their professions or ran businesses from home.

By 1926, number 14 was occupied by the Cardiff School of Shorthand (better known in later years as Cleves College); Cleves remained here until the late 1960s, when it moved to 96 Newport Road.  The 1937 Cardiff Directory lists all five houses as business or professional premises, though it remains possible that their owners lived ‘over the shop’.

d1093-2- 014 (Houses in Newport Road)_compressed

d1093-2- 016 (houses in Newport Road)_compressed

Nos 10 -18 Newport Road were demolished in about 1980, along with an adjacent terrace.  The site was subsequently redeveloped with a ‘village’ of office blocks, known as Fitzalan Court.  More recently, these buildings have been adapted to provide accommodation for students.

Notable former residents include John Sloper (1823-1905), who occupied number 10 from at least 1880 into the early part of the 20th century.  A Cardiff councillor and magistrate, he gave his name to Sloper Road, where he was part owner of a tannery located opposite Sevenoaks Park.  Edwin Montgomery Bruce Vaughan (1856-1919) lived in number 14 during the early 20th century.  A local man, born in Frederick Street, who trained as an architect, he designed 45 churches in Glamorgan, the most noteworthy being All Saints, Barry and the former St James the Great in Newport Road – just a short distance from his home.  Bruce Vaughan is also credited as having designed a number of buildings depicted elsewhere in the Mary Traynor Collection.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer



Houses in Dumfries Place, Cardiff

Dumfries Place is named after the Earl of Dumfries – a courtesy title used by the Marquess of Bute’s eldest son.  There is, though, a difference in pronunciation; the Earldom of Dumfries rhymes with peace, while Cardiffians rhyme the street name with peas.

Residential development was confined to the eastern side of the street, backing onto the Taff Vale Railway.  It comprised some 24 substantial houses, dating from the 1870s.  Most formed a single terrace running from Queen Street, with five pairs of semi-detached villas at the northern end.  Applications for building approval suggest that the properties were built on a speculative basis by a number of local builders, including James Purnell and Samuel Shepton (who actually lived with his family at 2 Dumfries Place in 1881).

Number 1 Dumfries Place appears never to have been a private house.  Initially, it was occupied by the Glamorgan Club.  Formed in 1874, the Club had about 150 members, principally professional men of the town.  However, it lasted only until 1895, when the building was taken over by the South Wales Art Society and the Cardiff Medical Society.  Later, it housed the Welsh Industries Association before becoming the office of an insurance company.  The remainder of the houses appear to have been family homes, though several were occupied by doctors or dentists who might also have used part of the premises for professional consultations.

d1093-2- 012 (Houses in Dumfries Place)_compressed


d1093-2- 013 (Houses in Dumfries Place)_compressed


Drawing D1093/2/8 depicts 3, 4 and 5 Dumfries Place while the properties appearing in drawing D1093/2/9 are numbers 14, 15 and 16, together with a small part of 13.  Contemporary records suggest that most houses changed hands every few years, but there is evidence of longer term occupation by some families.  One such example is George Prince Lipscombe – variously described as a commercial clerk, cashier, or accountant – who lived at number 3 with his wife, Emily, and their children.  He is listed there in an 1875 directory and was still there when the 1901 census was taken.  The 1881 census shows that Lipscombe’s neighbour, at number 4, was seventy-four year old Elizabeth Rundle, the widow of a local bookseller and stationer.  Elizabeth died in January 1889, but her daughter, Emma Rundle, still lived at the same address in 1911.

Although he was in Dumfries Place for a relatively short time, another resident is worthy of note because he figures in one of the odder occurrences of Cardiff’s history.  Number 16 in Mary Traynor’s second drawing has the shopfront of Saunders Lambert, Estate Agents.  In 1881, this was the home of Samuel Chivers, a vinegar brewer, who later expanded into the manufacture of pickles and jams – production continued at his Ely factory until about 1970.  In April 1883, one of Chivers’ legs was amputated following a road accident.  He had the leg buried in Cathays Cemetery, presumably intending to be re-united with it in due course – the burial register entry reads ‘Leg of Male’.  In the event, though, when he died in January 1917, Samuel Chivers’ body was interred in a family grave, elsewhere in the same cemetery.

When the 1901 and 1911 censuses were taken, no residents (or just caretakers) were listed at some Dumfries Place properties, suggesting that its transition to business premises had already begun, and this seems to have been largely complete by 1920.  The houses were demolished to accommodate the widening of Dumfries Place and construction of a multi-storey car park, in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/8-9]
  • Cardiff Burial Board Records, burial register, 1859-1886 [BUBC/1/1/1, p.209]
  • Cardiff Burial Board Records, burial register, 1875-1922 [BUBC/1/4/1 p.67]
  • The Weekly Mail, 21 April 1883
  • 1851 – 1911 censuses
  • England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1889
  • Webster & Co’s Postal and Commercial Directory of the City of Bristol and County of Glamorgan, 1865
  • Worrill’s Directory of South Wales and Newport Monmouthshire, 1875
  • Wright’s Cardiff Directory, 1893-94
  • Kelly’s Directory of Monmouthshire and South Wales, 1895
  • Western Mail Cardiff Directory, 1897
  • Various 20th century Cardiff directories
  • Friends of Cathays Cemetery, Cathays Cemetery Cardiff on its 150th Anniversary
  • Friends of Cathays Cemetery, Newsletter, June 2011


The Drill Hall, Dumfries Place, Cardiff

Funded by trustees of the third Marquess of Bute (who was then a minor), the Drill Hall in Dumfries Place, was erected in 1867, primarily as a base for the volunteer force (predecessor of the Territorial Army).

d1093-2- 011 (TA Headquarters, Dumfries Place)_compressed

Designed by London architect, Alexander Roos, who was also one of the Bute trustees, it was built of coloured bricks after the Byzantine style.  At 148 feet (45 metres) long and 66 feet (20 metres) wide, the central hall could accommodate a standing audience of more than 4,000.  Subject to the volunteers’ operational needs, it was made available for events such as concerts and public meetings, and served for many years as the home of the Working Men’s Flower Show.

Located alongside the Taff Vale Railway, the building was fronted by a parade ground and faced south along Dumfries Place.  Demolished in the 1970s to make way for dual carriageways in Stuttgarter Strasse and Dumfries Place, its approximate site is now represented by the office blocks known as Dumfries House and Marchmount House.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted: