Gloucester Chambers, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff

In October 1888, County of Gloucester Bank Ltd opened its first Cardiff branch in St Mary Street.  Two years later, work began on the erection of a new Bute Docks branch at 15 Mount Stuart Square.  While construction was still underway, they purchased the adjoining premises at number 16, which were incorporated to provide a larger building.  The banking business occupied the ground floor while the upper parts, known as Gloucester Chambers, were used by coal and shipping companies.

County of Gloucester was taken over by Lloyds Bank in 1897 and the Mount Stuart Square branch did not survive for long afterwards.  From 1902 until the 1950s, Evan Roberts Ltd – better known in later years for their store at the corner of Queen Street and Kingsway – had a clothing shop in the former bank.  Gloucester Chambers continued to provide offices for a variety of business; by the 1930s, though, coal and shipping businesses had given way to firms of accountants and solicitors.


In the 1960s, reflecting the changing fortunes of Cardiff Docks, 15 & 16 Mount Stuart Square was tenanted by a filing systems company and a turf commission agent, but it seems to have been vacant by 1970 – several years before Mary Traynor’s 1982 drawing.  Following demolition, the site is now occupied by a modern brick-built office building and associated car parking spaces.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:



Imperial Buildings, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff

In the late-19th century, the Imperial Hotel stood in the north-west corner of Mount Stuart Square.  No picture has been found of the building but it was probably not a large establishment.  The 1871 census records that the licensee, Thomas Nixon, had six boarders.  Ten years later, Nixon was still in charge with nine boarders.  By 1901, the proprietress was Emily Jolly, who had just four boarders.

In 1911, the Alliance Buildings Company sought approval to rebuild on the site.  It then embraced two plots at 43 and 44 Mount Stuart Square, though the architect’s drawings show that the company already had ambitions to add future extensions at both ends.  Two years later, a revised plan was submitted, this time incorporating properties at 39, 40, 41 and 42 Mount Stuart Square, and by 1920 the new building was complete.

Faced with glazed white tiles and incorporating fluted columns into its design, the five-storey structure was palatial in appearance.  Imperial Buildings, as it was now called, appears to have been divided into small suites of offices.  Cardiff Directories for the 1920s and 1930s show that it was occupied by a range of businesses, predominantly in the fields of shipping, railways, coal, oil, paint and insurance.  Initially, the ground floor in the northwest angle of the Square was a bar and restaurant, still called Imperial Hotel, but this seems to have gone by the mid-1920s.

In the 1940s, the offices were occupied by government departments, including the Valuation Office, Immigration Service, Ministry of Supply, Welsh Board for Industry, Admiralty, and Board of Trade.  During the Second World War, Imperial Buildings appears to have housed the Naval Flag Officer responsible for defending south Wales ports; it has also been suggested that planning for the 1944 D-Day landings may have been done here – though that cannot be verified.

d1093-2- 015 (Imperial Buildings)_compressed

By 1955, Imperial Buildings was no longer listed in Cardiff directories.  It seems to have remained unused for more than twenty years before demolition in the late 1970s.  Mary Traynor’s drawing dates from this period of decay and depicts the angle between the west and north sides of the Square – where the original hotel stood.  An apartment block was erected on the site in about 2001.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/11]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans for alterations to the Imperial Hotel, 1886 [BC/S/1/5607]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans,  plans of the Imperial Hotel, 1911 [BC/S/1/17740]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, rejected plans for the Imperial Hotel, 1913 [BC/S/1/18796]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans for rebuilding the Imperial Hotel, 1913 [BC/S/1/18890]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans of the Imperial Hotel, 1914 [BC/S/1/18937]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans of Imperial Buildings, 1914 [BC/S/1/19193]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans of Imperial Buildings, 1916 [BC/S/1/19596]

Cardiff Borough Building Regulation Plans, plans for propoed rebuilding of 45 Mount Stuart Square, 1923 [BC/S/1/22189]

1871, 1881 and 1901 censuses

Davies, J D, Britannia’s Dragon: A Naval History of Wales

Square peg

Photograph taken in 1974 by David Webb

Various Cardiff directories, 1908 – 1972