Albert Buildings, Moira Terrace, Cardiff

Albert Buildings was erected in the mid-1870s by Cardiff ship-owning brothers John and Richard Cory, on land leased from the Bute estate along the south-eastern side of Moira Terrace.  Designed by Frederick Cutlan, the block comprised a row of shops, each with living accommodation on the first floor, while the second floor was separately divided into fourteen ‘model dwellings for artisans’.  Some of these were originally provided with balconies, accessed through the bricked-up doorways visible in Mary Traynor’s sketch.

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Soon after completion, formal ownership of the building transferred to Cardiff Land and House Investment Corporation Limited – of which the Cory brothers were major shareholders.  And in 1877, an additional, glass-roofed floor was added along the whole length of the block for use as a roller skating rink.

In its early days, the entire venture seems to have struggled commercially.  By 1879, the skating rink had been abandoned and the top floor let to a steam laundry company.  And in April 1880, most occupants, both of the shops and dwellings, quit their tenancies. The company then decided to let out the houses in sets of rooms, with three tenants to each house.  By 1883, the directors recorded that most of the houses and shops were let to ‘a better class of tenant’.  The steam laundry had moved out and, in 1885, the top floor was divided into three units, and re-roofed with slate, with a view to letting as warehouses.

The internal arrangements seem to have been further adapted over the next two decades and, by 1904, much of the block had been converted into flats.  It is, though, apparent from contemporary directories that several units were occupied as homes or hostels run by charitable bodies, including the Salvation Army and Dr Barnardo’s, while business also continued in many of the shops.  In more recent times, one of these housed Lion Laboratories Ltd and a blue plaque commemorates their development here, in 1974, of the electronic breathalyser.

In 1980 Cardiff Land and House Investment Corporation sold the building to Adamsdown Housing Association, who subsequently refurbished and modernised the flats, removed the top floor and re-roofed the whole block.  Mary Traynor’s 1982 sketch illustrates the north-eastern end of the block, as it appeared before refurbishment.  In more recent years, the ground-floor shop units have generally been occupied either by lawyers or third-sector organisations.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection (ref.: D1093/1/2)
  • Cardiff Borough Records, disapproved plans for 11 Proposed Houses, Moira Terrace, 1875 (ref.: BC/S/1/91154)
  • Kernick Family, Cardiff Land and House Investment Corporation Ltd Collection, extract of lease of premises in Moira Terrace (ref.: DX69/4)
  • Cardiff Land and House Investment Corporation Ltd Records, A History of Cardiff Land and House Investment Corporation Ltd (ref.: DX486/8)
  • Various Cardiff Directories
  • The Western Mail, 7 March 1877
  • The Cardiff Times and South Wales Weekly News, 24 March 1877
  • South Wales Daily News, 1 September 1879

YMCA and Cory Hall, Station Terrace, Cardiff

The YMCA and Cory Hall were next-door neighbours in Station Terrace, opposite the entrance to Queen Street Station.  Both dated from the period around 1900.

The YMCA traces its origins to 1844, when a group of London drapery workers, led by George Williams, formed the Drapers Evangelistic Association.  It soon changed its name to Young Men’s Christian Association and broadened its purposes to introduce an educational element.  Other associations quickly opened across Britain and around the world.

Cardiff YMCA was founded in 1852 in St Mary Street.  It occupied various sites during its first half-century before erecting purpose-built premises in Station Terrace. Designed by local architects J.P. Jones, Richards & Budgen, the building had five storeys and a basement.   As well as living and boarding accommodation, it provided a gymnasium, lecture theatre, classrooms, a library and reading room.  The ground-floor frontage included two shops – one of which was originally designed as a restaurant.  Its foundation stone was laid in 1899 by Sir George Williams and it opened the following year.

The Cory Memorial Temperance Hall was built at a cost of £5,000 and presented to the temperance societies of Cardiff by John Cory (1828 – 1910), as a memorial to his late father, Richard.  Richard Cory (1799 -1882) had founded the family’s shipping and coal mining businesses.  He was a leader of the Methodist movement in Cardiff and supported various social, educational, moral and Christian activities in the area.  As the temperance movement developed in Cardiff, he is reputed to have been the first to sign ‘the pledge’.

d1093-2- 008_compressed

By the 1970s, plans were afoot to redevelop the area bounded by Queen Street, Churchill Way, Station Terrace and North Edward Street – now the Capitol Shopping Centre.  In anticipation of this, other premises in the area had closed and were becoming rundown.  The Cory Hall was subject to a lease of 99 years from 1896 and, with rising overheads and running costs, the trustees decided to sell.  The Cory Memorial Trust Fund invested the proceeds – £72,262.88 – which they continued to apply to causes in the Cardiff district which were in line with the original founders’ vision.  The charity was de-registered in 2001.  The YMCA also moved from Station Terrace.  In 1974, they purchased a former convent school in The Walk, to continue their youth and community work and, subsequently, to develop a hostel for students and young workers.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/4]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, proposed YMCA, Station Terrace, 1898 [BC/S/1/13196]

Porter Family of Cardiff and Somerset Papers, Cory Memorial Trust Fund report, 1974-89 [DX416/2/1]

http://www.cardiffymcaha.co.uk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cory

http://www.evangelical-times.org/archive/item/6165/Historical/The-grace-of-giving—John-Cory–1—-/