A look at some of the people of note that were either born or lived in ‘Roath’.  Scroll down below the map to get more information on the people.


Getting blue plaques installed can be a tricky business with all the costs, permissions required and hoops to be jumped through.  We thought we would take an alternative approach and have created some virtual plaques. Why not make them a bit different we thought and have them red rather than the traditional blue.

Sir William Crossman red plaque

William Crossman was born in 1854 in Tavistock, Devon.  William was a mason by training and came to Cardiff to work as a foreman mason on the Roath Dock at Cardiff in 1884.  He became a labour leader in 1892, at the time of the great building trade dispute. As a member of the conciliation committee he did much to bring that strike to a satisfactory end.   He was Lord Mayor of Cardiff in 1906 and was knighted whilst still in office by Edward VII on his visit to Cardiff on 13 July 1907, when the King came to open the Queen Alexandra Dock.  More about the life and works of Sir William Crossman can be found here.

William McKenzie red plaque

William McKenzie was born in the village of Oyne, Aberdeenshire in Scotland in 1853. He joined the police force in Lancashire before moving south to Bristol in 1876 where he gained a series of rapid promotions ending up as their Deputy Chief Constable.  In 1889 he moved to Cardiff to assume the position of Chief Constable, a position he held for 23 years.  Part of his role as Chief Constable was to meet important dignitaries visiting Cardiff.  Reports describe him greeting such visitors such as King Edward at Roath railway station whilst mounted on his distinctive grey charger horse.  More information on the large part he played in Roath Presbyterian church (now called St Andrew’s URC), the Caledonian Society and his charity work is outlined here.

WIlliam Pettigrew red plaque

William Pettigrew designed Roath Park and lived in Roath Park house, the now dilapidated building in the Roath Park Pleasure Gardens.  William was born in Scotland and brought to Cardiff when his father Andrew secured a job as gardener in Cardiff Castle.  William trained at Kew before working in Scotland then returned to Cardiff to take up the post of Cardiff’s Head Gardener.  More about the life of William Pettigrew is available here.

Suffragette protest

In 1911 the suffragette movement protested by evading the census, held every ten years.  Their motto was ‘No votes for women, no information from women’. In order to evade the census enumerator a group hid inside 34 Albany Road on the night of April 3rd 1911, an empty drapery shop.  It was estimated by the enumerator that 17 individuals were present in the shop, though maybe there were more.  Some accounts of what it was like in that shop overnight have recently come to light and are detailed here.

Ernest Willows red plaque

Ernest Willows, Cardiff’s airship pioneer, was born at No.11 Newport Road, where Cardiff University’s School of Engineering now stands. A happy coincidence in many ways.  In November 1910 he was the first person to fly an airship from London to Paris and the first to fly an airship over the English Channel at night   His life however was far from happy it seems.  His life came to a tragic end in 1925 in a ballooning accident at the age of 40 in Bedfordshire when  the basket gets detached from the balloon and plummets to the ground.  He is buried in Cathays cemetery.  More on the life of Ernest Willows can be found here.