In the First World War the building of Albany Road Primary School in Roath were commandeered and converted into a military hospital. In 2015 the pupils in Year 6 of the school have put together this website to look at the history of the hospital. The project has evolved into an annual exhibition in the community. The whole project was recognised by the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative and won a Moondance Foundation award from the WHSI.
The first St Edward’s Church in Westville Road, Roath was destroyed by fire in 1919. It was rebuilt as a memorial to those who lost their life in WWI. There are three war memorials in the church: a First World War memorial, a Red Cross memorial and a Second World War memorial. The Roath Roll of Honour web page details those names on the memorials and the people behind those names.
A series of Victorian parks, varying in nature, border the Nant Fawr stream (Roath Brook) for over two miles from Cyncoed in the north, through Roath to Pen-y-lan in the East. The more northerly parks, collectively known as Roath Park, include the Wild Gardens, Roath Park Lake, the Botanic Garden, Pleasure Garden and the Recreation Ground. The Friends of Roath Park have a special interest in the horticultural aspects of the park. To the East of Pen-y-lan Road we come to Roath Brook Gardens, Roath Mill Gardens, Waterloo Gardens and finally the Minsters/Sandies.
Other Societies in Cardiff and South Wales area:-
Cardiff Archaeological Society are a society which seeks to foster interest in archaeology in the Cardiff area. They have an annual lecture programme which runs fortnightly from October to March, featuring eminent speakers from universities and heritage organisations from around the world. In the summer they have a series of evening field trips to sites of local archaeological and historical interest, together with three full day trips to sites further afield. Their website includes results of a survey and the history of Roath Mill.
Cardiff Civic Society aims to conserve, sustain and develop the natural and built environment of the city for the benefit of current and future generations. Its role is to provide information and support, research and debate and, where necessary, to lobby local authorities, government and private interests to ensure the achievement of its aims. It runs conferences, workshops, education events and acts as a catalyst for other organisations with similar objectives to exchange ideas and develop skills.
Cardiff Naturalists’ Society is for those interested on local wildlife. They hold field meetings throughout the year, particularly in spring and summer. Regular lecture meetings are held in the UWIC Llandaff Campus on Western Avenue, Cardiff. Their programme is advertised on their blog page. The society was established in 1867 and the society history has been well researched and documented.
This 110 acre Cathays Cemetery on the boundaries of Roath opened in 1859 and is one of the largest in the UK. The very active Friends of Cathays Cemetery not only promote the conservation and protection of the infrastructure, monuments & buildings but also the the flora & fauna. The group also advance the education of the public in the history and heritage of the cemetery. Anyone researching people possibly buried in Cathays Cemetery could find this group a useful resource.
Glamorgan Family History Society is an active society with branches throughout Glamorgan. The local Cardiff and Vale branch meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 7.15 at Insole Court in Llandaff. Society members can access a large amount of resources including baptisms, marriages, burials, monumental inscriptions, schools and more. The Society has a research centre at Aberkenfing near Bridgend. A Monthly Brickwall ‘Help’ Session is held on the 5th Floor, Cardiff Central Library, Canal Street, Cardiff for anyone struggling tracing their family tree.
For more than fifty years, the Glamorgan History Society has played a prominent and highly respected role in encouraging the study of the history of Glamorgan in all its many aspects. Every year the Society publish the journal, Morgannwg, which brings together expertise from academics and local historians alike. Original, well-written articles are welcomed, and the journal provides an excellent opportunity for researchers to publish their work and bring it to the attention of a wider readership.
The active Grangetown Local History Society covers this historic area in the South of Cardiff. The society has been very busy researching the lives of Grangetown residents in World War I .
The Historical Association – Cardiff Branch has a lecture progamme on a wide range of topics some of which would be of particular interest to those researching Cardiff history.
Llafur brings together people from all walks of life with a common interest in Welsh people’s history. They organise a wide range of events looking at aspects of Welsh history and publish the journal Llafur. Llafur believes that history does not just inform us of the past, but that it can also illuminate our understanding of the present, and to help shape our future. That’s why many Llafur events consider issues that, even though rooted in the past, have relevance for our lives today. Their journal publishes articles on all aspects of the history of the Welsh people.
Llandaff is the City within the City. The Llandaff Society among other things aims to to stimulate public interest and civic pride in Llandaff, promote high standards of planning, architecture and design and secure the conservation of features of architectural and historic importance. As with all Civic Societies there is an emphasis on the historic and this could therefore be a useful resource to anyone looking at the local history of this area.
Lisvane Historical Society was established in January 2006 with the aim of undertaking research into the history of the village and to preserve current information. Although the society doesn’t appear to be holding meetings at present the website is still worth a visit if you are researching this area of Cardiff.
The Llanishen Local History Society aims to promote and preserve the history of Llanishen, a suburb in the North of Cardiff. It is not currently active.
The Oxford House Industrial History Society is based at the Risca Industrial History Museum. The Society meets every Friday evening from September to May, in the museum. In the summer months from May to September they have a programme of visits to places with an industrial history background.
The active Radyr and Morganstown Local History Society meets regularly at the Old Church Rooms for a series of talks on topics of local interest. Their website also contains a collection of historic photographs and links to other organisations that meet in the Radyr area.
Rhiwbina is a suburb in the North of Cardiff. The Rhiwbina Civic Society works to preserve the village atmosphere for which Rhiwbina is famed, and to foster a sense of community and civic pride. The Society meets on the third Tuesday of the month in Canolfan Beulah, Rhiwbina, with speakers on a range of subjects of interest and relevance and often of a historical nature.
Vintage postcards are a useful resource to those with an interest in Local History. It can be a thrill to find a postcard showing a church, a school, a shop or a street in an area you are researching. The South Wales Postcard Club has an active programme including organising a Postcard Fair in Cardiff twice a year with around twenty dealers.
The South Wales Record Society was established in 1982 and exists to publish a regular series of texts and other works relating to the history of South Wales, and in particular to the historic counties of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. Such publications allow original source materials that would otherwise only be accessible in archives and libraries to be examined by a wider readership. Each text is provided with a scholarly introduction, notes, bibliography, and other glossaries and appendices which enable the original source to be placed in its historical context.
The Heritage and Cultural Exchange is to be situated in the elegant Exchange Hotel in Butetown and will house collections detailing Butetown’s unique history and Tiger Bay’s rich maritime history to show and to tell the stories of immigrants and migrants to Wales. Their aim is to preserve the social and cultural history of Cardiff docklands, from the Victorian period, through the present and into the future. They work in partnership with other history groups to promote public awareness and understanding of Cardiff and Wales as a culturally diverse country.
Libraries, Archives and Museums
The fifteen plus Cardiff Libraries in the city offer a valuable resource to anyone studying local of family history. Each library is likely to have some books regarding the history of the local area. The whole library catalogue can be accessed from home. Magazines, including some addressing history and family history, can also be accessed from home. Of particular interest to family historians is the fact that both the popular search engines Find My Past and Ancestry can be accessed free of charge but you have to be in a library building to use this facility. The same goes for British Library Newspapers.
Cathays Branch and Heritage Library deserves a special mention. It is a Carnegie library and backs onto Cathays cemetery. It houses Cardiff Library’s Local Studies collection which is a great resource for anyone looking at local history in Cardiff and includes newspapers, documents as well as books. Their friendly staff are trained to help people with local history enquiries. The library catalogue can be accessed online.
AWEN is a charity set up to support Whitchurch Library. Over the years it has diversified and developed a range of activities including some for those interested in local history. It has recently won a Heritage Lottery grant to be used for developing a series of local heritage walks.
The Museum of Cardiff, a museum all about Cardiff, is housed in the old Cardiff Library building in the Hayes in the city centre, a building well worth a visit in itself. It is not a large museum by any means but has an interesting collection and holds some good exhibitions.
Glamorgan Archives is housed in a modern building in the Leckwith area of Cardiff and open to the public. Their large collection of documents is needless to say a great resource to any historian with an interest in Cardiff and the county of Glamorgan. You can search their collection from the comfort of your own armchair before visiting. When you first visit you will need to take along ID and become familiar with the rules of visiting an archive e.g. no pens allowed. Photography is however allowed.
You may think that because the National Library of Wales is in Aberystwyth and a fair step from Cardiff that it is of limited use for people researching local history. Well think again. Over the years a host of material has become free and readily accessible online . My favourite resource of theirs is Welsh Newspapers Online . It contains fully searchable and the papers stretch from 1804 to 1919 at present. Let’s they will extend the project in future to scan in more papers.
Two of the seven branches of the National Museum Wales are here in in the capital city and what’s more they are free to enter. The National Museum Cardiff displays a large collection of historical objects and artworks as well as holding frequent exhibitions. The St Fagans Museum of History is so much more than a collection of relocated buildings and is proud of its newly opened buildings. Worth a visit if you haven’t been along for a while. The National Museum of Wales has a big online collection of over half a million objects and well worth a browse. There is also a Friends of the Museum group that has an active programme of talks and visits.
The British Association for Local History is the national charity which promotes local history and serves local historians. It publishes both The Local Historian, a quarterly journal, and Local History News, a topical magazine as well as books and pamphlets on local history. It also organises regular guided visits to archives, libraries, museums and other places of interest and arranges regular conferences in London and the regions. Their website also includes links to many local history society websites including ours.
The interesting Cardiffians website is not only a collection of old photographs of Cardiff but also documents some of the history of the various suburbs including Roath.
There are a number of Facebook groups where people share historical photographs of the city. People often comment on the historical significance of the photos and add other photos or information of the same building etc. The groups include: Cardiff Days Gone By , Cardiff Now and Then and Remember Old Cardiff . Staying on the subject of Facebook groups then at a national level you may like to visit History of Wales or at a local level how about Splotlands which looks at the history of nearby Splott.
GENUKI provides a virtual reference library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK and Ireland. It is a non-commercial service, maintained by a charitable trust and a group of volunteers. It contains a wealth of information for those researching both local and family history and has a dedicated page for Roath.
The People’s Collection Wales preserve and celebrate the rich history of Wales by collecting stories and photographs from the people throughout Wales. The website now holds over 100,000 photographs that can be searched by keyword or place on an interactive map. Anyone can upload material onto the website. The whole project is funded by the Walsh Government and is becoming a valuable for historians.
Peter Finch is a Cardiff based poet, historian and author of the Real Cardiff books. He is active on social media including twitter and blogs , one of which includes a post about Roath.