Whether you are researching a person, a place or an event in history in Roath then here are some suggestions on where to start and links to resources available:

Roath Local History Society website:  Our website now contains a wealth of information on Roath and surrounding areas.  Like all websites the whereabouts information may not necessarily be immediately obvious.  There is a search facility on our homepage .  Give it a try.  You may be surprised at what turns up.

Publications: Jeff Childs, our Honorary Life President, has authored of several historical books, including two on our area, ‘Roath, Splott and Adamsdown, One Thousand Years of History’ and ‘Roath, Splott and Adamsdown – the Archive Photographs Series’. These and other useful resources are listed on our publications page.

Pictures: These can bring your research to life.  Try looking under the Local History section on our website and then the topic you are researching e.g. Roads, Pubs, Churches etc.  Facebook sites are a good way of finding pictures and there are some great ones in the area and all have a search facility:  Splotlands, Cardiff Now and Then and Cardiff Days Gone By.  If you still can’t find what you are looking for then posing a question on one of these sites and something may turn up if you are lucky.

Maps: Studying old maps can reveal a lot and some of the old Cardiff maps are very detailed.  A useful website is: National Library of Scotland maps . A large collection of maps is also available at Cathays Heritage Library (see below) and Glamorgan Archives (see below).


Cathays Heritage Library. Local Studies resources for the whole the Cardiff area are housed in Cathays Heritage Library.  The friendly and helpful staff are on hand to help advise you how to go about your research. 

Address: Fairoak Rd, Cardiff CF24 4PW.

Tel: 02920 785580  e-mail:

Here are some of the resources you may find useful at the library :

  • Books: You may want to research what they have before visiting using the on-line catalogue.
  • Trade Directories:  These used to list the head of every household and often mention their trade.  The people are listed both alphabetically, by street name and by occupation. (Glamorgan Archives also has a collection of Trade Directories -see below).  Leicester University also has a number of the early Cardiff Directories online.
  • Electoral Registers: Ask the staff and I think they may be able to access past electoral registers for you.
  • Telephone directories.
  • Photographs. Search the library online catalogue and a photograph may be listed.  Not all their photographs are catalogued so it may well be worth asking in person if they can find you one.
  • Maps: a sizable collection of historic maps of the city of Cardiff.
  • Newspapers. These are mainly on film.  The library had a number of film readers for the public to use.


Glamorgan Archives: A large and varied collection of books, papers, maps plus rate books naming household heads and other ratepayers and other materials that is an invaluable resource for local researchers. Some of the material will have originated from the local councils e.g. building plans and other material donated from companies, churches, schools or other organisations. Their modern facility off Sloper Road in Grangetown is open to the public.  You will need to be registered so be prepared to take certain ID and read up on the other rules e.g. no pens.  It can also be advisable to research and order the items you want to look at in their on-line catalogue before you go. Glamorgan Archives website

Cardiff University Libraries: You don’t have to be a student to use their libraries.  You can pay a small annual fee of around £10 to use their libraries under the CLIC scheme..  Their library catalogues is on-line for you to search at home.

National Library of Wales: Whilst on the subject of libraries it is worth mentioning the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.  Again their catalogue is online for you to search.  They also have a number of collections online and free to view such as newspapers (up to 1919) which are searchable by keyword.  A collection of historic journals and tithe maps is also available online.

Family History

If you are researching your family or someone else’s here are some useful resources.  The most important sources of information:  

Births, death & marriages (purchasing actual birth, death and marriage certificates can be expensive, ~£10) but you can get a long way in tracing a family history without the need to get certificates.

Census information: carried out every ten years but the information remains confidential for 100 years.  The current census information therefore covers  1841 – 1911.  The 1921 census is due out at the end of 2021. Available on Ancestry and Find My Past (see below) and a number of other websites including FreeCEN

1939 Register: carried out at the start of WWII.  Contains less information than on a census but is now publicly available on Ancestry and Find My Past (see below).  Some younger members of families are redacted.

Useful Websites

Ancestry    – a subscription site but free to access at a Cardiff library (Ancestry has been accessible for free at home via the Cardiff Libraries website during the Covid pandemic)

Find My Past  – a subscription site but free to access at a Cardiff library

General Register Office – Free to search – requires registration. Includes births up 100 years ago (including usefully mother’s maiden name) and deaths up to 50 years ago

FreeBMD   – Free, covers up to around 1980

Family Search –  free – needs registration.

Accessing ‘Find My Past’ and ‘Ancestry’ in Cardiff Libraries: You will need your library number and a library PIN number.  Log into one of the computers in the library – note you may have to reserve a computer at busy times.  At other times you will be able to walk in and start using one.

The Cardiff Branch of the Glamorgan Family History Society is very active and runs training sessions, monthly meetings.

Military History:  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website is a good place to start researching those who fell in WWI and WWII. The National Archives is a useful resource for researching both those who fell and those who survived.

Cemeteries: The large historic well-preserved Cathays Cemetery is a fascinating place to wander around but it is not the only cemetery in Cardiff.  There is a useful Friends of Cathays Cemetery group. To find a location of a specific grave it is advisable to contact Cardiff Bereavement Services based at Thornhill Cemetery.

Newspapers: The newspapers on film at Cathays Heritage Library unfortunately are not searchable by keyword so you have to know what you are looking for by date.  There are however a number of on-line collections that are searchable by keyword.  Find My Past has an expanding  newspaper collection (see above).  Also very useful is the National Library of Wales online collection.  It is free and searchable, but only covers up to 1919.

Researching your house or other property: Discovering the previous occupants of a property has become a popular pastime lately following a couple of TV series. The resources you will need to consult and where to find them are the same as those listed above   i.e. maps, census records, trade directories, newspapers, photographs. 

Other Links: If you still haven’t found what you are looking for then it may be worth consulting our Links page which signposts to many organisations etc. 

Roath Local History Society Library

The Society has an extensive Library of historical books and publications, that members can borrow, free of charge.

Download our Catalogue of Resources here.