Castell Coch, Tongwynlais

The original Castell Coch is thought to date from the 12th or 13th century.  Its name, which translates as Red Castle, comes from the hue of the local sandstone from which it was built.  Abandoned at an early date, it formed part of the estates associated with Cardiff Castle.  By the mid-19th century, only foundations remained.

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In 1871, the third Marquess of Bute commissioned William Burges to reconstruct the castle as a country residence for occasional occupation in the summer, using the medieval remains as a basis for the design.  Burges rebuilt the outside of the castle between 1875 and 1879, but died in 1881 before the interior had been finished.  This was completed by other members of his team in 1891.  The exterior is considered to be a reasonably accurate reconstruction of a medieval castle, though experts doubt the authenticity of the conical turrets.  However, the interior is a fantasy of colourful symbolism and decoration which must be seen to be appreciated.

The building is quite impractical as a living space and was little used as such.  Since 1950, Castell Coch has been in state guardianship and is currently managed by Cadw both as a popular tourist attraction and also as a venue for weddings and other events.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

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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.

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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.

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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

Boston Buildings, 68-72 James Street, Cardiff

On 21 March 1900, local authority approval was granted for a building on the northern side of James Street, at its junction with the pathway which ran alongside the Glamorganshire Canal.  It comprised two shops on the ground floor, each with a basement, while a central doorway gave access to offices on the first and second floors.  With re-numbering a few years later, the shops became 68 and 72 James Street, while the offices were number 70.

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Designed by Cardiff architect Edgar Down, the premises were erected for Rose & Co., Engineers, who were based at Royal Stuart Buildings on the opposite side of James Street.  The proprietor, Joseph Rose, was born in Leake, near Boston, Lincolnshire, so it is perhaps reasonable to presume that this is the origin of the name Boston Buildings, which still appears in wrought ironwork above the roofline.  The arms of the pre-1974 Borough of Boston are carved into the stonework at one corner.

Earliest occupants of the office space were shipowners and brokers, but with the gradual decline in Cardiff’s importance as a port, later tenants ranged more widely to include printing, stockbroking and insurance businesses, along with professionals such as solicitors, accountants and consulting engineers.

Throughout the first quarter of the 20th century, the shop at 68 James Street was occupied by a butcher, Thomas Morgan (later T Morgan & Sons).  But by 1929 the unit had been taken over by Kristensen & Due, ships’ chandlers, who remained until at least the 1970s; during much of this time, Mr Kristensen also served as the Danish Consul in Cardiff.  It is less easy to trace occupancy of the second shop; during the 1950s to 1970s, though, the tenant was a tobacconist, Anthony Nethercott.  While Mary Traynor’s 1986 sketch identifies it as a general store and snack bar, a well-known cigarette brand is still prominently advertised.

In more recent years, number 68 served as the Somali Advice and Information Centre, while 72 was an office of the Flying Start family support programme.  Today the shop units are occupied by an estate agent and a property management company.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection (ref.: D1093/1/4)
  • Cardiff Borough Records, plans for new premises, James Street, 1900 (ref.: BC/S/1/14110)
  • Cardiff Borough Records, Glamorganshire Canal Navigation, Memorandum of Agreement, 1904 (ref.: BC/GCA/4/162)
  • Various Cardiff Directories
  • 1881 – 1901 Censuses
  • Google Streetview

Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff

Baltic House dates from about 1915, when it replaced 17, 18 and 19 Mount Stuart Square, in a prominent position directly opposite the main entrance of the Coal Exchange.  The architects were Teather & Wilson and their client was Claude P Hailey, a local accountant who later donated the land for Hailey Park in Llandaff North.

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Having five storeys plus a basement, the building is oddly asymmetric in appearance, with a more ornate bay at the eastern end.  The approved building plan shows that it was originally intended to balance this with a western extension which has clearly never been executed.

The earliest occupants included Mr Hailey’s accountancy partnership with Sir Joseph Davies, and Mount Stuart Square Office Co Ltd, which appears to have been the building’s management company.  Business Statistics Publishing Co Ltd and the Incorporated South Wales and Monmouthshire Coal Freighters Association – both closely associated with Davies and Hailey – were also based there.  Other tenants were generally coal exporters or shipping companies.  From the outset until at least the mid-1950s, there was a café on the lower ground floor.  While developing patterns of business saw changes in occupancy over the years, Baltic House continued to house a number of shipping and travel companies well into the 1960s.

During the 1990s, Baltic House was the principal office of Cardiff Bay Development Corporation as it masterminded the regeneration of the city’s rundown docklands and waterfront.  More recently, it has housed the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, along with a number of other third sector organisations.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection (ref.: D1093/1/6)
  • Cardiff Borough Records, plans for offices, Mount Stuart Square, 1913 (ref.: BC/S/1/18776)
  • Evan Thomas, Radcliffe and Company, Shipowners, Cardiff Records, lease (counterpart) for term of 21 years, 1916 (ref.: DETR/92/1-3)
  • Various Cardiff Directories
  • Cardiff Year Book 1921
  • Wales Yearbook 2000
  • http://www.friendsofhaileypark.org.uk/claude-hailey.html
  • http://www.wcva.org.uk/

Avondale Hotel, Clarence Road and Clarence House, Hunter Street, Cardiff

Opened in July 1894, the Avondale Hotel was a venture of local hotelier and caterer, Richard Palethorpe Culley, who already ran the restaurant in the nearby Exchange building, as well as several other businesses in Cardiff and beyond.  Designed by E W M Corbett, it was built by W Thomas & Co.  The hotel was later acquired by Crosswell’s Brewery, which ultimately became part of the Whitbread group.  Subsequently demolished, the site is now occupied by a block of flats named Avondale Court.

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Clarence House, at the junction of Hunter Street and Harrowby Lane, clearly dates from 1896.  Still standing today, it appears to have undergone significant reconstruction since this 1983 sketch.  Most notably, it has lost the ornate pediment which so strikingly identifies it in Mary Traynor’s picture.  In more recent years, the name Clarence House has been adopted for the former Salvage Association building in Clarence Road.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

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