Cardiff People First: The Pink Ladies Project

Cardiff People First is a self-advocacy organisation run by and for people with a learning disability in Cardiff. They stand up for their rights and campaign to change attitudes, get better services and enjoy more opportunities. They fight for equality, understanding, respect and acceptance.

Cardiff People First members have worked on a number of important projects.  During 2015-2017 they received funding from Comic Relief for a Pink Ladies Project aimed at ensuring women were more confident and empowered to access more services and activities within their community.


Pink Ladies Project Officer Dawn depositing documents with Glamorgan Archives

The members of Pink Ladies are women with a learning disability. They have identified the most important things to them, the barriers that stop them living their lives. They’ve met with mainstream and learning disability services developing good working relationships and want to do more. The themes they want to concentrate on are: increased access to education and work opportunities; increased understanding of and access to health opportunities; and increased understanding and access to mainstream women’s identity services.

Project papers now held at the Archives (ref. D1351) include questionnaires, feedback papers, evaluation forms, work plans, agendas and reports, newsletters and various information packs relating to women’s health.


You can find out more about the Pink Ladies project by watching their films on You Tube:

The Pink Ladies project is just one of several initiatives undertaken by Cardiff People First.  Their work continues, and we’re looking forward to seeing their Archive grow as well, reflecting the full range of their amazing work.


Cardiff: Capital City of Wales, 1955

Cardiff received its City Charter in 1905.  50 years later, in 1955, it was to become the Capital City of Wales.

Cardiff presented a petition to become capital city, but it was not a forgone conclusion, and neither was it without quite stiff competition.  The strongest competition came from Caernarfon, where Prince Edward, the future King Edward VIII, had been invested Prince of Wales in 1911.


Image 2

Cardiff Petition (Lib/c/371)


There were also petitions from St David’s, the oldest cathedral city in Wales and the ecclesiastical seat.  Machynlleth expressed and interest having been the site of Owain Glyndwr’s parliament in 1404.  And Aberystwyth put in a bid claiming a central position and being the location of the National Library of Wales.

The petition from Cardiff had a lengthy attached appendix which detailed the cultural, ecclesiastical, industrial and judicial evidence supporting to claim to the title of Welsh capital and listing the various merits of Cardiff as a city.  It also mentions the future benefits of planned changes to South Wales, such as the new Severn Bridge and the proposed International Airport at Llandow.

The appendices drew on the 1947 population data, showing that over half of the population of Wales was resident in Glamorgan.

Image 4

Cardiff Petition Appendices – 1947 population data (Lib/c/371)

It finally came down to three contenders: Aberystwyth, Caernarfon and Cardiff.  A ballot was placed before the Welsh local Authorities and the result was a resounding success for Cardiff.

Air Raid Precautions in Glamorgan

For Glamorgan Archives’ second decade, the 1940s, I decided to look at our collection of Air Raid Precautions records for Glamorgan. The Air Raid Warden Service was established in Cardiff in 1939. Its headquarters was based in Cathays Park with local control centres setup throughout Glamorgan.

Air Raid Precaution Services consisted of Wardens, Report & Control, Messengers, First Aiders, Ambulance Drivers, Rescue Services, Gas Decontamination and Fire Guards. The Fire Watcher scheme was introduced in Jan 1941. Fire Watchers had to keep a 24 hour watch on certain buildings and could call on the rescue services if required. The role of ARP warden was open to men and women of all ages. The majority were volunteers but there were some who were paid a salary.

One of the duties of an ARP warden was to enforce the blackout. This led to some wardens being regarded as interfering or nosey. Who can remember the portrayal in Dad’s Army of ARP Warden Hodges shouting ‘Put that light out!’?

This entry from the Barry Control Centre Logs [DARP/2/2] records a complaint of a light showing:

DARP-2-2-2ndAug-1942 web

Other duties of the ARP Warden included sounding the air-raid siren, helping people to the nearest air-raid shelter, handing out gas masks and watching out for the fall of bombs within their sector. The booklet 250 ARP Questions Answered [DARP/3/24] would have been a familiar sight.


Part-time wardens were supposed to be on duty about three nights a week, but this increased greatly when the bombing was heaviest. As you can see from the log below [DARP/1/10], the wardens on duty weren’t averse to moaning about the conditions in the control room. The state of the cups seems to have been an issue, with one warden scrawling a reply What would you like? Fire watching at the Ritz??!

DARP-1-10-8thAug-1941-cups v2 web

The following entry from the Pontypridd Control centre log book from 25th April 1943 [DARP/13/9] shows a report of a crater 5ft by 2 and ½ feet deep near Forest Uchaf Farm on Graig Mountain. The ARP liaised with the police at both Pontypridd and Llantrisant as well as Central Control to ensure the bomb had exploded.

DARP-13-9-25thApril-1943 web

ARP were kept up to date of any changes in enemy tactics and were needed to feedback information from the ground. The following message from the 15th June 1943 [DARP/13/9] describes how the enemy have started dropping anti-personnel bombs after incendiary bombs in order to hamper any fire-fighting.

DARP-13-9-15thJune-1943 web

ARP also took part in regular drills and exercises. One such exercise took place on October 19th 1941 [DARP/1/7] ‘Enemy cars discharging soldiers at Caegwyn Road, Manor Way Crossing…’

DARP-1-7-19thOct-1941-exercise web

During the height of the Blitz there were approximately 127,000 full-time personnel serving in Civil Defence, but by the end of 1943 numbers had dropped to approximately 70,000. In total 1.5 million people served in the ARP/Civil Defence Service during the war. The Civil Defence Service was eventually stood down towards the end of the war after VE Day.

Melanie Taylor, Records Assistant, Glamorgan Archives

Sources consulted:

The Diary of Joan Mark of Cardiff, Nurse, 1939

Glamorgan Archives recently received a diary written by Joan Mark of Cardiff for the year 1939, the year Glamorgan Record Office – now Glamorgan Archives – was established.

Joan as nurse

Joan Mark in her nursing uniform

Joan was born in 1921, was educated at Howell’s School and was only 17 when she started to write her diary, recording her work as a trainee nurse at the Prince of Wales Orthopaedic Hospital in Cardiff. The Boots Scribbling Diary came complete with coupons for free gifts such as lemon barley crystals, indigestion mixture and Devonshire violets talcum powder.

Joan gives us a fascinating insight into her working life, set against the background of the impending War which broke out in the September of that year.  She records being on her feet all day, …was nearly sleeping on my feet is one of her entries.  She had to live in rooms in the hospital when she was on duty, and the constant sound of patients ringing their bells is noted many times; bells, bells, bells she writes.


Joan enjoyed working on the children’s ward.

Prince of Wales Hospital

Staff and patients at the Prince of Wales Hospital, 1930s – Joan is standing 3rd from left

Diseases such as scarlet fever, chicken pox and diphtheria are mentioned.  When helping at the babies’ clinic she records:

All sorts of babies came. We had to scrape the dirt off some before we could see their little faces.

Babies clinic

She also had to check for head lice and on one occasion found that several children were ‘alive’ with lice and had to try and get rid of them using Derbac soap and Dettol before the Ward Sister returned.

Joan was also expected to help out with the laundry, darn serviettes and cut miles and miles of gauze and wool for bandages.  On her days off she also had to attend lectures and take tests.  On one occasion she tried to swot for a test …but fell asleep.

One constant worry was the shortage of staff in the hospital. I hope we shall get some more staff soon, she writes, and that on one day the other staff were …all shouting and bawling at me.  They seem to think I can produce mattresses, plaster knives and clean counterpaynes out of the air.

The Matron and Sister ruled with a rod of iron and nurses could have their days off cancelled for misdemeanors such as not reporting a broken light or an untidy bedroom. In March they were given new nursing caps to wear:

New caps

We all had new caps given us this morning. They are all terrible and show all our hair at the back.  Matron told me to put mine in curlers, but I shan’t even if I’m the only one left with straight hair.

It wasn’t all work for Joan and she records visits to her family and her social life: trips to Barry Island, shopping at Woolworths, listening to the wireless, regular trips to the cinema, walks in Roath Park and visits to Star Street Chapel and Roath Methodist Chapel on a Sunday. In January 1939 the hospital maids had their annual dance, when the nurses had to wait on them and washed up afterwards; we were allowed to dance with each other as well at the end, but were told not to take the maids’ men.  Joan couldn’t go to the dinner and dance that had been organised for the nurses:

…so we held a dance on our own in the bedroom with the wireless and gas-fire in full blast and lemonade and biscuits as refreshments.

Staff dance

She was on duty on Christmas Day and was given presents from the Matron and other nurses. A band came at 7.30am and most of the nurses were dancing. Joan played with the children on the ward and a choir came to sing carols, followed by Christmas dinner at 7pm.

From August onwards the talk of War clouds her diary. On 24 August Joan writes:

Everyone seems to think there is going to be a war

War 24 Aug

Two days later she says:

They are making our Out Patients Department into a Decontamination Centre and pasting black paper over the windows of the Hospital. The International Situation seems pretty serious but I don’t think there will be a war.

Joan was due to take her holidays:

Sister Blake says I may have my holidays but must come back if War is Declared.

On 1 September she records that Germany had started bombing Poland and that she had gone on a trip to the beach where she …met two sweet little German exile children. Joan was on leave when War was declared on 3 September and on that day she records that the Germans had torpedoed a British liner (this was the SS Athena). A few days later Joan travels to Nottingham to visit relatives and she helps her Uncle to black out the windows.  She had difficulties travelling back to Cardiff as all the trains had been stopped and were being used to transport troops.

Preparations were in full swing when she went back to work the following week.  They only had eight patients and from then on were only going to admit 50% of their capacity so that the Hospital would be ready to receive any wounded troops.  On one day Joan had to strip and remake 48 beds in readiness. The Sister gave the nurses some advice:


If a bomb falls on the Hospital – don’t rush into the flames or make martyrs of yourselves. Get under the beds and the quicker the better.

The Matron was worried …because the Russians have entered Poland.

The Sister said, What does it matter as long as they don’t enter the Prince of Wales Hospital.


As the diary comes to an end there are glimpses of the day to day changes that War has brought to the country: being warned for having too much light showing in a window, the issue of National Registration cards, visits to air raid shelters, a colleague learning to knit socks for the troops and the evacuation of a family member.


Joan Mark of Cardiff

Joan went on to qualify as a registered nurse in 1943, but tragically died in a car accident in 1951, aged 29.

The National Pageant of Wales, July-August 1909

The photographs below, taken 110 years ago, show members of prominent Welsh families dressed in full medieval costume for the National Pageant of Wales.

Marchioness of Bute as Dame Wales

The Marchioness of Bute as Dame Wales

Lord Mayor of Cardiff Alderman Lewis Morgan as Hywel Dda

Lord Mayor of Cardiff Alderman Lewis Morgan as Hywel Dda

Mrs Marie Augusta Hester Crawshay

Mrs Maria Augusta Hester Crawshay

Mr Victor Wiltshire at King Henry V

Mr Victor Wiltshire as King Henry V

Mr Ernest George Cove as The Scout

Mr Ernest George Cove as The Scout

Held in Cardiff over two weeks in July and August of 1909, the pageant celebrated Welsh history through the re-enactment of famous events from history and folklore. With a total cast of 5,000 the scenes ran from the arrival of the Romans in Wales through to the crowning of Henry VII after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Seen by many as a sign of Cardiff’s growing importance, following the award of city status in 1905, the pageant was watched by crowds seated in temporary stands in Sophia Gardens. The event was hailed by the Western Mail as …the event of a lifetime [that] will certainly rank as one of the chief Welsh events of the twentieth century.

Scene from the Pageant

Scene from the Pageant


The Finale

However, although the three hour performances included an appearance by the Marchioness of Bute as ‘Dame Wales’, a firework display by Brocks of Crystal Palace and an array of rugby internationals dressed as Ivor Bach’s men storming Cardiff Castle, the public were far from convinced. Poor attendances led to a significant financial loss. Perhaps unkindly, critics labelled the pageant as ‘an overblown Edwardian fantasy’ and the event was never repeated.

Glamorgan Archives holds a number of photographs of the cast in costume and a copy of the programme produced for the pageant that sets the scene and lists those taking in part. There is also a copy of an edition of the Western Mail, produced on 27 July 1909, with photographs and reports of the performances.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Capel Heol y Crwys (now Shah Jalal Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre), Crwys Road, Cardiff

Building plans were approved in May 1884 for the erection of a Calvinistic Methodist Chapel in May Street, Cathays.  That building, designed by J P Jones, is now used by the Salvation Army.

Having outgrown their May Street premises, the congregation obtained approval in May 1899 to build a new chapel in Crwys Road.  Designed by local architect, John H Phillips, the building had a large worship area at street level, with a gallery above and schoolroom and vestry on the lower ground floor.  The frontal treatment was quite ornate with curved rooflines and turreted staircases.  It is the interior of this chapel which features in Mary Traynor’s sketch.

D1093-1-1 p17

During the 1930s, Calvinistic Methodists became the Presbyterian Church of Wales.  In 1975, the congregation at Crwys Road was boosted following the closure of its original ‘parent’ chapel in Churchill Way and, some years later, they moved to the Christian Scientists’ former church in Richmond Road, which is now known as Eglwys y Crwys.  The Crwys Road building was subsequently converted to serve as the Shah Jalal Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection (ref.: D1093/1/1)
  • Cardiff Borough Records, plans for new Methodist chapel, May Street, 1884 (ref.: BC/S/1/4307)
  • Cardiff Borough Records, plans for Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Crwys Road, 1899 (ref.: BC/S/1/13732)
  • Bowen, Parch Thomas:  Dinas Caerdydd a’i Methodistiaeth Galfinaidd
  • Rose, Jean: Cardiff Churches through time

Brynderwen, 49 Fairwater Road, Cardiff

On 8 May 1878, Cardiff Rural Sanitary Authority approved plans, drawn up by John Prichard, the Llandaff Diocesan Architect, for building a house on a large plot of land adjacent to Insole Court.  Prichard’s client was Evan Lewis, proprietor of coal mines in the Aberdare area.  By the time of the 1881 census, Lewis, then aged 58, was living in Brynderwen with his wife and eight children.  The household also included Mrs Lewis’s mother, and seven servants.  While not playing a prominent role in public affairs, Evan Lewis was a local magistrate and served for several years as churchwarden at Llandaff Cathedral.

D1093-1-2 p10

Evan Lewis died in 1901 and Brynderwen was subsequently acquired by John Llewellyn Morgan, only child of David Morgan, founder of the department store which traded in central Cardiff until 2005.  The 1911 census lists him along with his wife Edith, two of their sons, and three servants.  John Llewellyn Morgan died in 1941 but Edith was still listed at Brynderwen in the 1949 Cardiff Directory.  By 1952, though, the house was occupied by Major Evan John Carne David, a member of the David family which formerly owned the Fairwater House and Radyr Court estates.  Born in 1888, he served as a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of Glamorgan and was High Sheriff of the county in 1930.  Following Major David’s death in 1982, the house was demolished and replaced by a development of some 26 detached houses, known as Hardwicke Court.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection (ref.: D1093/1/2)
  • Cardiff Rural District Council Records, plans for house at Llandaff for Mr Evan Lewis, Llandaff, 1878 (ref.: RDC/S/2/1878/8)
  • Family history of the David family of Fairwater (ref.: DDAV/1)
  • Various Cardiff Directories
  • Morgan, Aubrey Niel: David Morgan 1833-1919 The Life and Times of a Master Draper in South Wales
  • 1881 – 1911 Censuses
  • The Cardiff Times, 10 February 1883
  • Weekly Mail, 14 February 1885
  • Weekly Mail, 16 April 1887
  • The Cardiff Times, 31 March 1894
  • Evening Express, 17 April 1900
  • Evening Express, 11 & 14 November 1901
  • The Times, 27 March 1982