Albany Road used to be called Merthyr Road but was renamed Albany Road in 1884 to commemorate the death of the Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, son of Queen Victoria.
Take a trip with us along Albany Road from west to east. Click on the links to take you to articles with more information:-
St Martin’s Church
St Martin’s church is at the western end of Albany Road (CF24 3RP). The church was built in 1899 on land donated by the Mackintosh estate, to a design by Frederick R Kempson. The population of Roath was expanding fast at the time and a larger building was needed to replace the iron church on the site that had been built in 1886. The foundation stone of the new church was laid by the mayoress Mrs S A Brain, wife of the brewer. The brick built church in late Decorated Gothic style was opened in 1901 and St Martin’s became a parish in itself in 1903. Its original lady chapel was decorated by a Belgian refugee artist in gratitude for the kindness shown by the parishioners during the First World War. The interior of the church, described as one of the most elaborate church interiors in South Wales, was largely destroyed in February 1941 when it was it by an incendiary bomb. The church was restored and reopened in 1955. More of St Martin’s history is on their website.
One of Roath’s newest pubs, The Andrew Buchan, opened in 2012 at 29 Albany Road on the corner of Arabella Street (CF24 3LH). The pub is named after the founder of the original Rhymney Brewery in 1839. The premises at 29 Albany Road has had an interesting history. In 1888 it was home of Issac Clarke, an egg merchant. In 1897 it was a grocery shop. By 1937 it was a hat shop. It then became part of the large Collins the Drapers business which owned not only 29 but also 11-25 Albany Road with Hopsons the tobacconists next door at No 27. In 1984 it was a Halfords shop. The last shop to occupy the site was a video rental shop. It then lay empty for a number of years before being converted to the Andrew Buchan in 2012. The pub hosts music and art displays, often by local artists. Andrew Buchan facebook page.
The 1911 Suffragette Protest
In 1911 a group of Suffragettes protested by barricading themselves in 34 Albany Road and avoiding the census. Edwards & Co Drapers had closed prior to 1911 and at the time of the census was lying vacant, but the picture probably still gives a good impression of what the premises looked like at the time. Today it is the Flavour Vapour e-cigarette shop. The story of their protest is told in a blog post here.
Albany Road Primary School
Albany Road Board School, now known as Albany Road Primary School (CF24 3RQ) was opened in November 1887. It was constructed on land owned by the Mackintosh Estate and cost £9,579 to build. Almost 300 pupils attended the school when it was first opened but by 1898 the school had been expanded and could accommodate 1643 pupils. When the school first opened it was noted that that the number of pupils not knowing their letters was high but by the end of the first year the school was being congratulated on its work and discipline which were described as excellent. The school was commandeered for use as a military hospital during WWI. The school is still very much open and now called Albany Primary
Roath Park Wesleyan Methodist Church
The church was on the corner of Albany and Wellfield Road. The building survives but the congregation left in 1990 and were for a time holding their services in the Mackintosh sports and Social Club. The church was built in 1898 to the design of architects Jones, Richards and Budgen of Cardiff. The chapel is described as stone built in the Gothic style with a long-wall entry plan, an integral tower and perpendicular leaded windows. It was extended and altered in 1911. Part of the ground floor of the original church building is today used by retailer Rainbow Bargain. Much of the interior survives including the stone pulpit now surrounded by bargains. The church had a roll of honour of all the 109 men who served in the armed forces in WWI which was thought lost but then found for sale and is now mounted in Roath Park Primary school. The war memorial tablet has also recently been found to be in safe storage at Thornhill Crematorium. The press reported in 2017 that the church building had been sold to a private buyer for £410,000.
The Claude Hotel at 140 Albany Road in Roath (CF24 3RW) is a fine Victorian building, the exterior of which has changed little since it was constructed in 1890. The large bar area was the result of a refurbishment in 1994 and the amalgamation of the public bar, a ladies snug, the off licence and skittle alley at the rear. Regulars however have always insisted that the Oak Room, which was a men-only lounge up to the early 1970s, remain untouched. The name originates from Claude Williams of the Williams family who lived in Roath Court (now James Summers funeral home) and owned the Roath Court estate. When Charles Henry Williams was selling off bits of the estate for housing, various streets and pubs were named after family members e.g. Crofts, Rose, Claude.
Albany Road Baptist Church
Albany Road Baptist Church sits on the corner of Albany Road and Blenheim Road. It started life as Cottrell Road Baptist Mission in July 1893. In March 1898, the congregation moved to the school chapel, adjacent to the current church. The current church building opened in December 1932 after having been delayed by the war and lack of funds, but the perpendicular tower never completed. The old school rooms were modernised in 1971 and an extra floor added but the Renaissance style exterior maintained. In 1994 a glass-fronted entrance was added to the main church. The Bath stone on both buildings has recently undergone extensive cleaning and solar panels added to the church roof.
Roath Court Cottages
Some of the history of Albany Road was covered in our Project Newsletter Vol 1 No.4.