At the 1861 census, Peter Steffano, a 51 year old ship chandler was living with his family at 56, 57 and 58 Bute Street, Cardiff. The household also included Austrian-born Joseph Brailli, aged 23, a clerk in the chandlery who was married to Steffano’s daughter, Sophia. By 1871, the business, now operating as Stefano and Brailli, was at 63 Bute Street; the Brailli family lived at no. 65 and the Steffanos at 66.
Peter Steffano died in 1874 and, by 1881, the Brailli family had moved their home to Crockherbtown (now Queen Street). They appear, though, to have retained the business premises since, in April 1887, Joseph received local authority approval to rebuild 64-67 Bute Street.
The new building was designed by E M Bruce Vaughan and given the name Victoria Buildings. It included ground floor shop premises with warehouse space in the basement and at the rear of the first floor. The remainder of the first floor, and all of the second, provided office space. There was no longer any residential accommodation.
An 1884 directory still lists Joseph Brailli as a ship chandler at the Bute Street premises but, by 1891, the chandlery was run by Thomas Harper and Sons. Also listed at Victoria Buildings in that year’s directory were Jacobs & Co, outfitters, Foster Hain & Co, ship brokers and James Evans & Co Limited, colliery proprietors. The Thomas Harper company was still there in 1955, by which time the right hand shop unit housed the local branch of George Angus, manufacturers of industrial belting and a range of other products including oil seals. The offices continued to be occupied by shipping companies, along with HM Immigration Service. By 1972, the listed occupants were Reg Oldfield, photographer, Ken Jones, turf accountant, and J. F. Griffiths, builders’ merchant. Signage in Mary Traynor’s drawing suggests that the latter two companies remained until the building’s demise.
The approximate site of Victoria Buildings now comprises the outdoor areas behind nos 5, 6, 7 & 8 Bute Crescent (Jolyon’s Hotel, Duchess of Delhi restaurant, and the Eli Jenkins public house).
David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer
- Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/32]
- Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plans for rebuilding of 64-67 Bute Street, 1887 [BC/S/1/6250]
- 1861-1891 censuses
- Various Cardiff directories
- England & Wales National Probate Calendar 1874
- Williams, Stewart, The Cardiff Book, vol. 2 (p.185)