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.
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
- 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