Here is Grangetown history covering sport, entertainment and transport, as well as the memories from the 1950s onwards and more details of the Grangetown History Society. Please email us with any stories, memories or photos. Return to Part One or Part Two

Thanks to Jack and Ken Payne, Bob Jones, Zena Mabbs, Graham Goode, Ken Harris, Tony Hicks, Peter Ranson, Rita Spinola, Dennis Courtney, Graham Ayres, Dai's son, Martin Whitcombe and the Grangetown Local History Society for their help.


The turn of the 20th century saw more leisure time and a huge spurt in playing and watching sport. Here are just two of the many sporting teams in Grangetown at the time. From 1920-21 - the Court Road School rugby team and the Court Road School Old Boys football team.

Grange Villa AFC, photo courtesy of Susan and Ken Powell

This photograph of Grange Villa AFC, in the early 1930s, was sent in by Susan Rees, now Powell and living in Canada. Her grandfather Albert Lloyd Rees, pictured front row, fourth from the left, was captain. Albert's children still live in the area. The club's president was Mr Hold of the New Sea Lock Hotel, a pub near the Docks and the team were probably stalwarts of the Marl.

The photo line-up appears to read: Back row: T Mann, J Smith (committee), D Stewart, W Gape, T Evans, J Fish, K Leek, W Murrel (committee). Front row: Gibbons (hon sec), A Extrom, G Sefrose, A L Rees, A Stevens, A James, Peterson, Stokes and at the front S Griffiths, mascot. Let us know if you are related to anyone here or can tell us more about the team.

Another sporting team, this one the Grangetown YMCA Wrestling Club, who were winners of the Welsh championships in 1930 and this photo dates from the year later. The YMCA building still stands in Clydach Street. It became a day and community centre and is now an Islamic centre.

Boxing in the shadow of War - and the gasworks


Cardiff Gas Boxing Club was located pre war and during the 1940s in the cricket pavilion of the sports field of Grangetown Gas Works in Ferry Road, Grangetown Cardiff.

Prior to going to Howard Gardens High School, I attended Grangetown National School, Clive Street, Grangetown, and our family were then living at 81 South Clive Street.

A presentation evening at Cardiff Gas Boxing Club, in St Barnabas Church Hall, North Clive Street December 1949. As you look at the picture Jack Payne is receiving the cup on the far left. George Bale is receiving the cup on the far right.

When I was nine years of age, 1942, Tommy Bewley who was in the same school and lived at the lower end of South Clive Street, told me that he and his younger brother Leon had joined Cardiff Gas Boxing Club. He told me that Mr Fearnley who lived a few doors away from him ran the club. He suggested that I join the club with him.

Since the outbreak of the war the Gas Works and the sports field had been closed to members of the public and I think the prospect of being able to go through the Gas Works to the sports field held as much interest to me as joining the boxing club so I agreed to go with Tommy and Leon to the club.

Although the black-out was in being I think it was late Spring or early Summer and we then had double summer time which meant it didnít get dark until about 11.30pm, so initially I was going and coming home whilst it was still light. When I first arrived at the Boxing Club I saw that it was in a wooden pavilion on the far side of the sports field from the Gas Works.

The club had two trainers Mr Fearnley and Mr Bannister who had a son Roger who was a member. Roger was then about 16 years of age. There was about six other lads members of the club whose ages ranged from about 14 to 17 years of age. They were all from the upper Grangetown area. Only Tommy, Leon and I were from lower Grangetown.

There were no lads over the age of 17 because at 18 years they were recruited into the armed services. Leon was about the same age as me. We were the two youngest in the club and I think Tommy had asked me to join so that I could be a companion for his younger brother. The club night then was once a week on a Wednesday. I had nothing special to do in the evenings so I joined the club. Two former members of the club Cyril Galley and Jackie Pottinger, now in the forces and former A.B.A. champions, were heroes of the club and persons whom we could look up to as good examples.

The equipment in the club was very sparse. The boxing ring took up nearly all the centre part of the pavilion. There were two punch bags consisting of two canvas kit bags filled tightly with old rags and sand. They were suspended on ropes from the rafters. There was a punch ball fixed in one corner but its height was such that the bottom of the ball was about level with the top of my head.

There were a number of skipping ropes, two sets of tapered juggling sticks and sets of boxing gloves in sizes 8oz, 12oz and 16 oz. When I arrived on the first evening I was told that before I was taught to box I had to get fit and to do this I had to run around the perimeter of the sports field a few times followed by a period of skipping and then juggling with the juggling sticks. These sticks were intended to improve dexterity and quickness of your arms and hands. I think I spent more time picking them up from the floor having dropped them.

I was already a very fit young boy when I joined the club but I think Leon and I were told to do this so that more concentration could be given to the older lads who were spending more time sparring in the ring. This process of running around the sports field, skipping and juggling continued for some weeks, but I was allowed to have a go on the punch bags. The older lads had punch bag gloves but I used bare fists. I soon found that the hard canvas took the skin off my knuckles.

There was no way I was going to be able to afford proper gloves so I used my socks on my hands this helped a bit. Later I got an old pair of ordinary leather gloves and used them until I was 18 years of age. Eventually the time came when I started to get instruction on how to box.

I had been told to watch the older boys when they were sparring so that I could see the way they used their feet, body and hands. There was then a discussion whether I was to be an orthodox boxer or a southpaw. It was decided I should be orthodox and there followed a period where I was instructed in shadow boxing outside of the ring learning to lead with my left hand and to move around with my left foot in front of my right. I had been at the club some months now and had still not gone into the boxing ring to spar.

I remember when I first put on a pair of the boxing gloves. They smelled strongly of stale sweat, and when you put your hand inside the lining most of the gloves was broken and the horsehair padding would be all around your fingers. The state of the gloves wasnít unique to our club. I found later when visiting other clubs for tournaments their gloves were in a similar state. Sometimes you could push away the padding from around your knuckles so that a thin layer of worn leather only covered your fist.

The time came when I was allowed in the ring. I didnít have any boxing boots or daps (they are now called plimsolls) so I went in stocking feet. I didnít spar with any of the other lads only a trainer who either invited me to punch at his hands or at a punchboard which was something like a padded stool. This very gradual introduction was fine as far as I was concerned I was learning the art without suffering the pain of being punched on the nose. It also allowed the trainers to concentrate more on the older boys who were entering contests and relieve them of the concern as to who they should allow me to spar with.

The months had passed it was now autumn the nights had drawn in the black-out was in force and it was pitch dark walking through the streets and through the Gas Works. The club nights continued I think Leon had given up but as I was now getting more training I decided to continue. On my way home I always ran along the centre of the road just in case there was anyone there out to get me.

It was either late 1942 or early 1943 that I made my first public appearance as a boxer! Two of the hospitals in Cardiff, Rookwood and Whitchurch had large numbers of servicemen wounded in the war receiving treatment and convalescence. A decision was made by the organisers of our club and the Melingrifith Club in Splott Cardiff to put on a boxing show for these servicemen, using boxers from both clubs. The evening arrived and off I went with the other members of our club to Rookwood Hospital. When we arrived they set about making a ring in the centre of one of the wards by using chairs with their seats facing outwards. The wounded soldiers were all around some in beds and some sat on chairs.

There were a few contests between the older lads of our club with those of the Melingrifith Club and then came the finale of the evening with the younger lads. I was still the only young boy in our club but the Melingrifith Club had three young boys of my age. All four of us boys went into the ring together one in each corner.

We were then fitted with 16oz gloves, which in my case came right up to my elbow. We were then blindfolded by having a scarf tied around our heads. At the sound of the bell the trainer for each boy twisted the boy around as fast as he could for three or four times until he came giddy then pushed him out towards the centre of the ring with the instructions punch as much as you can. There was ructions, boys very giddy were falling down, tripping over chairs, punching wildly into space occasionally connecting with someone in front or someone from behind and all the time the soldiers and nursing staff shouting out watch out heís behind you or heís in front of you! It was pandemonium, we had three two minute rounds of this but nobody got hurt, and it was obvious that everyone enjoyed the evening. We put on a similar event at Whitchurch Hospital later in the year and that was also a success.

Although the club was having the occasional contest with other clubs in and around Cardiff at that time I was not being entered in any contests. There was a rule, whether it was an official one established by the WABA or by some other body I donít know, but it required boys entering contests to weigh at least 5 stones. I was under five stones, and the events at Rookwood and Whitchurch were not regarded as contests.

During this period there was another Boxing Club in Grangetown called Cardiff Amateurs. I donít know why but it may have been something to do with one club enticing boxers away from the other, but there seemed to be some bad feeling between the persons who ran the clubs. It was noticeable that whereas we had frequent contests with other boxing xlubs in the Cardiff area we never had one with Cardiff Amateurs. At this time Cardiff Amateurs were more successful than our club having a number of Welsh and ABA champions. Most of the boxers of Cardiff Amateurs came from the dock area with a number of Afro-Caribbean and Asian boys. For the rest of the war years the club continued to operate from the Gas Works Field.

Then about 1946 or 1947 the club moved to the old air raid wardens' post and incident centre building on the edge of The Marl near Channel View. This was a more substantial building made of brick but the rooms were not very large.

The boxing ring took up nearly all the floor space in the room it was in, just leaving about two feet of space around each side. There was one room there which was long and narrow and a man named Cyril Guy whom I think was also a trainer at Cardiff City Football Club came to the club and started a gymnastics class. A vaulting horse was installed in the long room and both boys and girls joined the club some interested in the boxing and some just in the gymnastics. The gymnastics class became quite successful and at least one girl was chosen to represent Wales in the Commonwealth Games. I think her surname was Lewis.

However numbers in the boxing club began to dwindle with no new members joining from Grangetown. We had by that time had a few contests with clubs in the Welsh valleys and from this we recruited some boys from Nelson and nearby towns. One of the boys Albert Davies became very successful as did Dai Dower who also joined the club. By 1949 I had won some Welsh schoolboy titles and Welsh Youth Club title and runner up on other occasions.

Billy Manning had joined the club by this time as a trainer, his method of training slightly more aggressive that the other trainers. Billy could see that he had two very promising fighters in Albert Davies and Dai Dower . There was also another from Nelson but I have forgotten his name. I think that Billy could see that he had good prospects here for professional boxers.

My own interest in boxing was waning somewhat because I had discovered girls were quite interesting. We had started to have some professional boxers come to the club to train and Cyril Galley and Jackie Pottinger came to the club but did not take any great part. Whether it was because of Billyís concentration on the boys from the valleys or because we were not recruiting lads from lower Grangetown but a decision was made to move the club to North Clive Street. This move split the club with some staying at The Marl and others moving to North Clive Street. I stayed at The Marl because it was just around the corner from where I lived.

Subsequently Billy Manning who initially stayed at the Marl left with Dai Dower and some others to set up his own Boxing Club in Splott. The move to North Clive Street had had the desired effect of recruiting more lads of whom a number went on to win both Welsh and ABA titles. I rejoined Cardiff Gas Club at North Clive Street in 1949 where I remained until I was called for National Service in 1951.

Dennis Courtney, now living in South Australia, writes: The person who ran the gymnastics at the Marl was Cecil Guy, and he used to instruct the Cubs from the Baptist Church - 52 Cub group - in vaulting and general fitness as well. We had a couple of older lads who played football come and train with us, I can't recall their surnames, but they were Nick, Phil and Tommy who used to go to uni and was a sprinter. The gymnast mentioned was Gwyneth Lewis. Mr Guy at the time lived in Clive St and later moved to Llanmeas St. I used to go to the Grange Council School with his son Glyn and am still in contact with him. I used to go to a boxing club but I am sure now whether it was in Earl St or Amherst St lane. Tommy Plumbley who lived near us in Cambridge Street got me interested in it. I didn't stay there long as they were more interested in the older boys and we were left to or own devices.I remember in the summer Vera Francis who took the cubs, would give us a treat and we would all march from the church down to the Gasworks field to play cricket. Also on a Friday evening I would take our dues to the church and pay The Sons of Temperance. It used to be the fore runner of the health service. I used to go to the Ebenezer Gospel Hall in Corporation Rd and one of my Sunday School teachers Mr Elliott was collecting so it must have been a combined church insurance type thing.

A hundred years of baseball


The 2007 season saw Grange Albion Baseball Club - the longest standing and most successful club in Wales - celebrate its 100th birthday.

To commemorate this feat, a local schools tournament was on The Marl, which was won by St Paul's. Then Grange Albion played a Combined Wales/England team - a match which was drawn and later a centenary dinner was held.

Grange Albion baseball club came into being in 1907 by taking over the fixtures of the disbanded Penarth Road Methodists team. The club's first league match took place in May of that year away to Llandough in the 2nd Division of the Welsh Baseball Association League. They won the 2nd Division in that first year and have gone on to enjoy considerable success since.

The 1948 Dewar Shield winners - who were undefeated. Back Row - L Smith, A Lloyd, J Brimmell (Snr), H Dimond, D Spargo. Middle Row - D Lloyd, W Lewis, G Smith (Jnr), E Deakin, T Williams, L Smith, S Lloyd, J Brown, T Rose. Front Row - D O'Leary, M Purchase, F Hayes, H Rowland, A Noyes, T O'Leary.

Also the line-up from the 1989 WBU Cup finalists. Back Row - Charlie Kinsey, Dean Pesticcio, Chris Green, Haydn Mould, Gary Jones, John Jones. Front Row - Anthony Roberts, Daren Young, Mark Jones, Stephen 'Spuda' Grainger, Geoff Poole, Les 'Lula' Jeremy, Tony Hicks.

Indeed, aside from being the longest serving team, Grange Albion are also the most successful team in Welsh Baseball history with a record 28 premier league titles won. In addition, the Club has supplied the Welsh national team with more players than any other team.

In later years, the ladies team was formed and they too have had many successful teams. Whilst the Club is rightly proud of its history, it is determined to do all that it can to ensure that this great, amateur sport continues to have a future and it is hoped that their centenary celebrations will help nurture the next generation of boys and girls that will enjoy the game.

For further information on the club, go to- The team/league sadly wound up in 2018. Can it be revived? Please email
We meet also at The Grange Albion Sports & Social Club at 144 Paget Street Grangetown, CF11 7LA. Tel: 029 2025 0761.

Frank Whitcombe (right) at the Welsh final trial 1935, which was a special game to celebrate the Silver jubilee of King George the V at Cardiff Arms Park. His brother George in action for Wales at baseball in 1931 (centre) and (left) the Cardiff City squad in 1922-23, with George second right. Thanks to Martin Whitcombe and David Lee

The 'genial giant' of rugby league and his footballing brother

Two sporting brothers from Grangetown went on to carve careers in rugby league and football in the north of England.

The Whitcombes were brought up at No 52 Wedmore Road. Frank and George were two of 10 children born to metal worker Fred - also a prize-fighter in Cardiff Docks - and his wife Gertrude. The boys attended Ninian Park Primary School in Cardiff. Frank (1913-58) left school at 14 and worked for McNeils The Coal and later as a van boy with the Great Western Railway. He had been on Cardiff's books as a full back, and when he enlisted in the Royal Engineers in the early 30s, he played rugby with Army. He became a professional rugby league player in 1935 after a sparkling career for the Army side. He made more than 450 appearences as a prop for Broughton Rangers and Bradford Northern, where he was described in a programme as follows: "Genial giant Frank is the wit as well as the heavyweight of the team. He turns the scales at over 18st. And opposing forwards really know they have been in a game after 80 minutes with him." He also won caps for Wales and Great Britain rugby league sides. He appeared in three challenge cup finals at Wembley, including in 1948 when before the match he took over driving the team bus after the driver got lost in London - and was awarded the man of the match award, despite Bradford losing. After retirement in 1949, he ran pubs before his death near Keighley in Yorkshire in 1958 at the age of 44. His son Frank also became a rugby player for Bradford and his grandson Martin for Leicester.

George (1902-1986) was, probably born when the family lived at 41 Stoughton Street, later renamed Jubilee Street/Sussex Street) was a footballer and baseball player. A right half and centre back, he started at Grange Albion in 1921, but the following year signed for Cardiff City, who were in the First Division at the time. "There was a lot of talent in the side in those days, including such names as Billy Taylor, Jim Jones, Jack Nock and George Beere," George recalled in 1965. George was transferred down a division to Stockport County, before a dispute over a low wage offer saw him joining Port Vale, where he played more than 50 times.. George ironically played against the mighty Arsenal in the semi-final of the 1927 FA Cup, which the Gunners only won after a replay. They of course lost in the final against George's home town club. His last league club was Notts County but after a sending off for the only time in his career, and apart from a player-coach role for a Cheshire league side, he decided to return home. He also played baseball for the Albion, and also won five caps for Wales, as well as captaining his country against England at a match played at his football club Port Vale in 1930. He is pictured above in the 1931 Wales v England baseball game at Liverpool. At the end of his playing career in 1930, George went home to Cardiff, running the Lord Windsor pub in Grangetown, and later The Ninian Park. He later ran The Coldstream Hotel in Riverside (renamed the Millers Tavern and now closed) for 27 years until the mid 1960s. He died in 1986.

Thanks to Martin Whitcombe and Dave Lee for the photos and information. If you have any stories of the Whitcombes as sportsmen or their time in Cardiff, please let us know


By Ken Payne
I am 14 years younger than my brother Jack, and the youngest of six children, with three brothers and two sisters. I was born in 1947, at 81 South Clive Street. Living in Grangetown in those days was still quite hard .Most of the families were large and hand-me-down clothes from siblings were common place. The large majority of boys my age were in the same situation (underwear was something I didnít possess). Other memories of clothes were the trouser pockets always having holes in them and spending your time fishing things out of the lining. Shoes were hand-me-down if possible, repaired in Len's Shoe Shop in Holmesdale Street, or made do with cardboard and string.

In the winter on cold evenings, bedding would be supplemented with the family overcoats. A replacement for a hot water bottle would be a brick warmed in the stove and wrapped in a towel. The other more risky option was to fill a pop bottle with hot water and clip it down and hope it didnít leak.

Money was always tight, but to my memory we were always well fed, albeit with a surfeit of staple food stuff - potatoes, cabbage, bread, etc. There was no such thing as sell by dates, so everything that was bought was consumed in one way or another. Also there were no refridgerators in those days, only a cold slab in the pantry. Consequently the family shopped every day for fresh food.

Living in Grangetown in those days was certainly an adventurous place for a young boy with spirit. On the one side we had the Marl playing fields, with beyond that the Tide fields. This was like a magnet to us as young boys. We would spend hours on the foreshore between Bowles sand wharf and the old Windsor pier. Then at the bottom of our street was the BRS Depot (British Road Services). You could walk down the side of the depot and out on to Ferry Road. Alternatively you could go through the BRS car park and come out on the little "beach" before the Red House Pub. This beach was no more than a bit of shingle, but I saw people stretched out sunbathing as if they were somewhere exotic.

I mention in the section above about the River Ely subway and retrieving scrap metal from Penarth docks. Another money-maker as a gang of boys would be to go blackberry picking. We would collect them in jars, tins or bowls, then they would all be put in one big box, and taken to Chivers jam factory on Ely Bridge. This was quite a messy operation. Very often juice would run out of the box all over bus seats and us. However I remember getting a nice crisp tenbob note for our troubles, which probably worked out at a shilling each! When we were involved in group activities like this the money would be used to buy something we would all use. Cricket was a great pastime for us boys then, so we would buy a new ball or batting gloves and even one set of pads. A nominated boy would mind the gear and would always seem to be available when we played. It would be no problem to gather up to 14 to 15 boys for impromptu games. You would have 11 fielding, two batting, with one pad each, and one or two umpires. All the scores were individual you batted until out, then you would rotate for someone else to bat until you went through the entire group, top score obviously being the winner. The keen cricketers were Alec Leach, Dai Preece, Les Lawson, Mike Smith Phillips, Glyn Thomas, Robert Jones, Haydn Brown, John Hill, David Thomas, David Charles Thomas and several others.

We got rather a good side together and played ďTestĒ matches against the Caribbean All Stars the forerunner of the CIACS club.

We also formed our own soccer team with a lot of this group of boys. The first kit for our team, Grange Athletic, was a white T-shirt, white shorts and white socks. We fancied ourselves as Real Madrid. Our first game was away to Taffs Well. I can still remember working out how we were going to get there by bus. We ended up walking the last mile or so. Unfortunately we lost that first game 5-3, but I managed to score twice with another lad Terry Smith getting the other. That was the start of a very good side that went on to win the league and cup in the next two years. Most of that side went on to play for Grange Harlequins, where we had many successful seasons.

Thinking back to those days life consisted of school, play (mostly play) and ways to earn some pocket money. One of our favourite ways was collecting bottles. We were experts on the return value of beer and pop bottles.These would vary in return value of between 2d-4d (two or four old pence) A lot of the bottles were franked with a system of little slits in the bottom of the label. If there was difficulty in returning bottles to the "offy" or local sweet shop we would endeavour to copy these slits to get them accepted. Any bottles that were unreturnable were taken to the "Point" at high tide and thrown in. We then proceded to throw stones at them until smashed or until the current took them out of range.

Another money earner was Christmas caroling, where basically we were paid to away. Penny for the Guy was our means of buying fireworks. There were a few choice locations to site the Guy. The bus stop on Channel View and Beechers Avenue was our favourite, catching the people going to the B.R.S or coming home from town. There didnít seem to be any age restriction then on purchasing fireworks, we could buy bangers, rockets, Catherine wheels, Roman candles and other types. These would then be set off at the huge communial bonfire on the Marl.

I regularly run errands for elderly neighbours for two or three pence.

Another regular haunt was over by Bowles wall by the sand pit. This is where a large gathering of men, maybe 25 to 30 would congregate to play pitch and toss, an illegal betting assembly. Very often we would pick up coins after they had gone, or there had been a warning of a raid. Some of the boys had regular pocket money, two bob or half a crown. Most of my mates didnít, hence our money-making schemes.

I was spoilt in some ways though. I used to get comics bought every day - Knockout, Beezer Wizard, Hotspur and so on.

On occasions I would be kept home from school to do the shopping. Poppys on the square for fruit and veg, Bob's the butcher for meat, Tarvers for groceries, Brutons for bread and cakes, Williams for newspapers magazines and comics.

Once the shopping was done it would be ďelevensesĒ - a feast of bread rolls and cakes whilst reading my comics. I would then be sent to school in the afternoon with a note for teacher feigning some sickness or other. We were very wary of the boardy man in those days, used as a threat if we misbehaved. The boardy man being the truant officer who would whisk you away to boarding school if caught.

These are just a few of the activities that most boys of my age took part in. A very happy and eventful place for me to spend my formative years.


By Ken Payne
I would like to recall some local sports teams and maybe get some input from others with the same fond memories?

I will begin with the Marl playing fields in Grangetown. Some of my earliest sporting memories are of baseball games on the Marl. The local team of that era were Grange Stars, with the majority of the team made up of men from Ferry Road, Holmesdale Street, Earl Street and Channel View. The team was probably run from The Plymouth, with eventually a Grange Stars club opening on the Square.The weather for games always seemed to be fine,and you would get big crowds attending the matches.Evening games were a big attraction,knock off would be around 6.30pm with many games lasting till 9.30pm or later. Organisers of the teams would go amongst the crowd with a bucket to collect donations to the club. The children (including me) would chase in and out of the crowd playing tag or hide and seek.

Other teams of that era that stick in my memory were "Ever Open Eye", I was always fascinated by that team's name. Splott U.S. were another though I never knew what the U.S stood for. Alexander Old Boys from Newport, to my way of thinking then I expected a team of old men. There was also of course the mighty Grange Albion the most successful side in baseball history. That team boasted some Grangetown legends, Mac Purchase, Don O'Leary, John Roberts, Georgie Morris and Maurice Jones to name a few. We were amazed at the skill of these local men. You had several expert positions, backstop being one of the most skilful.Then you had first base a specialist position.Third base was also a tactical position. Then of course you had the bowlers who could leave you bewildered by their speed and accuracy.

There were some exceptional bowlers but the most famous has to be Paddy Hennessey, renowned for his speed. The batting side also had its specialists: men who could cut over the slips, punch the ball over one base, slog over base three or just drop the ball at their feet and scamper to base one. You also had the caller in the "box",who would prompt the men on the bases. He would tell them when to make a dash for the next base,or after the ball was struck how far he thought you could get around the bases. A good caller could earn your side valuable runs,a poor caller could lose your team a few batsmen.

Other baseball sides based in Grangetown were the Catholic Club,a very good young side. The Lyndon Club with a mixture of old and young players.Then there were the football-based sides who played baseball in the summer to keep the team spirit. St Patricks, Grange Quins and Grange FC fell into this category,but they were also quite successful as baseball sides. Sevenoaks Park, or the Tan as most locals called it was the home to Grange Albion,where you could get big crowds. However you might find two other matches being played on adjoining diamonds at the same time. This always gave the option of watching a few games for your Saturday entertainment. There was also a thriving ladies league, with Grange Albion ladies being one of the best sides in Cardiff.

Baseball in school was also very popular,with school leagues and cup competitions giving youngsters plenty of scope to play organised games.

I look at the sports at local and school level today and regret the decline in these sporting activities.I am sure they made for a stronger community and gave a sense of pride and belonging in your particular area.

I would also like to comment on the local soccer scene in this era,late fifties through the sixties. Grangetown in this period had the most successful side playing in local league football. St Patricks of the Cardiff and District league won the first division for approximately 10 consecutive seasons. They steam-rollered most of the opposition during this period and were a great local team.The two other long surviving clubs are Grange Albion and Grnge Quins.Grange Albion was an institution in Grangetown and had strong local support.The football side never quite reached the achievements of the baseball side however. Grange Quins formed in 1935,came to prominance in the mid sixties.They began to rival St Pats at this time, and eventually became the biggest club in Grangetown.They became the only Grangetown side to play in the top division of the Welsh League. There were other teams from Grangetown at this time, most of the teams made up from local men and youths.Grange FC started in the lower leagues and went right through to the first division .Inter Grange was a team of local youngsters from the Clive Street and Penarth Road area that had a successful team. Grange Nomads was a team run from the youth club off Corporation Road.Grangetown Torchbearers was the Salvation Army side run from their base in Amherst Street.

There were several youth teams as well,Grange Athletic in the early sixties winning league and cup. St Pats youth and Grange Quins youth having an intense rivalry were two terrific teams.there was also a North Clive Street youth side as well. Some of the clubs were running several sides,Grange Quins were running three mens teams and a youth team.St Pats two mens teams and a youth team Grange Albion two mens teams and Grange FC two men's teams. Most of the other clubs just ran the one side. At this time, mid sixties, there was probably 12 men's teams and three youth sides being organised by Grangetown-based clubs,utilising mainly Grangetown-based players.

Behind the clubs I have mentioned were the men or commitees that made it possible.

Each club had its men who gave their time and energy to the benefit of the club.St Pats had George Pooley who seemed able to bring in players to maintain their success during their period of dominance.Grange Albion had their stalwarts who worked csuccessfully at soccer and baseball.Grange Quins teams were selected by committee at this period,they would meet every Saturday after the game and select the team for the following game.

However Bert Smith Phillips and his sons Les and Michael put huge efforts into the success of the club. John Lynch was resposible for the setting up and ultimate success of Grange FC.Originally run from the Drake & Lynch betting shops and later from his newsagents in Corporation Road. All the clubs I have mentioned have certain individuals that took it open themselves to do something for their local community. The starting up of new soccer teams seems a thing of the past, I can only say that I was glad that these clubs were around to give me the opportunity to play on a regular basis. I hope others will comment on these times and perhaps put forward some more facts or opinions.

Before PlayStation or play areas, the games played down our street

The proliferation of the motor vehicle in the years after World War II had a marked significance on the games children once played in the streets of our cities, writes Jack Payne.

Sports fields and play areas were non existent in Grangetown with the exception of Ninian Park so children used the roads, pavements and wall of houses to pursue sporting and other physical activities.

Designated play areas of today do not have the space required for many of these games which have now faded into history with the exception of football and cricket. Children playing these games numbered maybe six to a dozen was also entertainment for many parents who would stand for long periods at their doors and gates watching these activities.

The following list is not exhaustive - there was also hide-and-seek, hop-scotch, statues and conkers. Some readers may remember others:

RELEASTER OR KICK THE TIN A space was chalked on the pavement about six feet wide and either a child or a tin was placed in this area guarded by another child. The object then was for other children to run into the guarded area and kick out the tin of pull out the child without being caught. If caught they would join the guard.

HECKY A child would be selected to stand in the middle of the road hopping on one leg. The remainder would line up on the pavement and try to hop across the road being prevented by the one in the middle who tried to knock them over. Anyone who put their other foot down joined the guard in the middle until only one (the winner) was left.

SWING THAT TIGER Played mainly by boys. A line of boys would stand in a row holding hands. The first boy would then begin to turn followed by the others getting faster and faster. Eventually the boy on the end or the last two would be off the ground swinging in a circle.

QUEENIE O CO CO. Played with a ball thrown back over the shoulder and having to guess who is holding it behind their back

MAY I CROSS THE ROAD MR. Completed by doing dwarf, scissor, or giant steps called by the child in the middle of the road

SOOT OR ASH BOMBS Two teams were selected and each given a short period to make as many as they could of soot or ash bombs. Most gardens in those days had a pile of soot or ash neutralising in the garden before being added to the garden soil. Bombs were made by placing a handful of soot or ash into a sheet of newspaper folding the corners together and tying with a length of string. The two teams would then set up opposite each other in the road with a space of about twenty yards intervening. At the shout of go each person would twirl their bomb as fast as they could before letting it fly in the direction of their opponents. The object would be to catch the bomb before it hit you or landed in the road exploding and return it.

TENSIES Played with a tennis ball against the wall of a house

MARBLES Three different versions.In the ring.In the hole, and In the gutter.

SKIPPING Either individually, or by stretching a long rope across the road and three or four skipping together or running in and out skipping.

WALL WALKING.The wrought iron gates and railings on top of the garden walls were removed for the war effort. The object was to walk in opposing directions along the top of the walls and jump the intervening gate spaces and pass each other without falling off.

RACING. Straight forward racing, relay racing, racing on stilts made either from blocks of wood nailed to a pole or by using tins held on to your shoe by strings. By using bogeys made from a plank of wood and pram wheels. Steering was generally made by using string attached to the front axle, but some went to great lengths to fit other methods of steering. Car tyres were also used for racing, with one child curled up inside the tyre and propelled along be another.

FARMER WANTS A WIFE Child. Dog. Bone. We all pat the bone.

POKE THE PIG The pig was either a leather football or a large ball made out of old rags and paper tied with string. Two teams were selected wiyh a goal and each child having a broom handle or something similar. The object then was to poke the ball along and score a goal.You were not allowed to strike the ball only poke it.

RAT TAT GINGER. Knocking on doors and hiding when they answered. Usually played after dark. (Not recommended, or encouraged in these days of Asbos)

FLICK THE CARD Most cigarette packets contained cigarette cards featuring sporting idols, cars, ships, film stars, flowers, animals, and other features. Some were very collectable and could be obtained by swapsies or by playing flick the card. One flicked a card towards one of your choice. If you landed on that card it was yours if not your card remained there.

Just think of todays health and safety issues amongst those games mentioned above!

This is the Clare Road and Ninian Park Road (Eldon Road) junction, with tram, in 1939, and also right one of horse-drawn trams which ran from Clive Street to Splott, and right a tram at the old depot entrance.


The first horse-drawn tram from Splott to Grangetown ran on November 29th 1881. Crowds lined the 2.75 mile route to watch the car, with 20 people inside and another 20 guests sitting outside, run from the Clifton Street depot to the Plymouth Hotel at the end of Clive Street. The first tram left at 1pm and took 15 minutes to complete its journey. Dignitaries, including the tram company, members of the Cardiff Corporation and the mayor, were welcomed to a reception at the Plymouth, before a celebratory dinner at the Royal Hotel in town. At the start, there were five trams running the route, every 15 minutes from 8am to 10pm. There were 28 horses initially, with stables built at Grangetown to accommodate 58.

Electric trams ran from 1902, with the No 1 route between Clarence Road, along Corporation Road, Clare Road and across the junction here into Lower Cathedral Road and Berthwern Street. From 1904, a service also ran between Clive Street and Splott via Penarth Road and Custom House Street.

The plans for the depot in 1900, which was built at the Clare Road end of Pendyris Street

In 1923, the tram depot was extended

There was also a tram depot just under the bridge from here in Pendyris Street - built by DW Davies between 1900 and 1902, which initially housed 31 cars and by the 1920s 23 cars. There were originally five of the distinctive red-brick gables, but another six were added when the building was extended in 1923. It was a trolley bus depot from 1942, housed its last tram in 1946 and stopped being a depot altogether in 1953. It still stands as a listed building - "as a rare surviving large building from a major tramway
system, illustrating the transport history of Wales' largest city.” It was a council vehicle maintenance garage for half a century until 2013. There was a short-lived plan to convert it into a modern gallery and arts space, but Cardiff failed in a bid to become European City of Culture in 2008. Then after being put up for sale, plans were submitted by a private developer to create a residential/business hub which also will have an arts centre, performance and community space. The project, called The Tramshed. will hopefully take place in 2015.

The Rev BOB JONES, now of Newport Pemb, writes of his childhood memories of Grangetown and particularly the trams.

"My grandparents lived in Warwick Place and traded as Wm Aplin and Sons Coal Merchants. There were two sons Bill, who looked after the coal side, and Fred, who was a furniture remover. His pride and joy was his van whivh he bought new in 1938, it was a Ford - was it BUH 318 ? I really do forget.The body was fitted by William Lewis of Tudor Lane. My cousin Stan was also the grandson of Squires the Bakers in Clare Rd. He was older than me but we shared the same interest in transport. Often we would watch the Foden and Sentinal Steam lorries which brought the flour to the bakery in Clare Rd and watch as Stan's father lifted the bags, using a block and tackle into the loft, over the bakehouse. At this time the building on the other side of the lane was a flourishing synagogue.

"Another favourite place was the corner of North Clive Street where we would stand and watch the new single deck trams as they glided down Clive Street to their terminus.Occasionally we would see a double decker on service 12, the single deckers were on service 7. Both ran to Roath Docka and Splott, the No 7's via Penarth Rd with its low bridges and then through Adam St to Splott; the No 12's via Clare Road and town to Adamsdown Square and Splott. Sadly both of these services ceased in October 1936 being replaced by motor buses. The 12's offered a new service via Paget St to Ferry Rd. My interest lies in the history of this tram service. The electric cars began running iin 1904,replacing the Cardiff District and Penarth Harbour Co.'s horse tramcars.The depot for these horse cars was at the bottom of Clive Street and I think still exists today as a garage".


6. Cathedral Rd and Clarence Rd via St Mary St and Wood St; double-decker (D/D)
6A Clarence Rd and Wood St D/D Peak periods only.
7. Clive St Grangetown and Roath Dock Splott via Adam St and Moira Place. Single-decker (S/D)
7A Clive St Grangetown and Monument via Penarth Rd S/D Peak periods only.
12 Clive St Grangetown and Roath Dock Splott via Wood St, Duke St, Queen St and Glossop Terrace. D/D. Diverted to Clarence Road instead of Clive St, late in 1934.
13 Cathedral Rd and Clarence Rd via Clare S.t D/D. Peak Periods only.
14 Victoria Park and Clarence Rd via Clare St. D/D. Peak periods only.
16 Whitchurch Rd and Clarence Rd. D/D. Diverted to Clive St late in 1934.

On 11th January 1932, service 12 was curtailed to run from Carlisle St Spott to Clive St, because of low receipts. There was a further curtailment to Clive St Library. As stated above, in 1934 it was diverted to Clarence Rd and at the same time service 16 became a Saturdays only service. to Clive St. On 11th October 1936, the services 7 and 12 were withdrawn,and the track between Clive St and Splott abandoned. The 31 new single-decker cars were put into store at Newport Rd Depot, where they remained until their sale, in 1940 to Para Electric Tramways, at Belem in Brazil. After modification, they served for several more years.

The Clarence Rd services soldiered on. In April 1940, the services were:
6. Clarence Rd to Cathedral Rd via St Mary St.
16 Clarence Rd to Newport Rd (Saturdays only)

Track relaying at the Wood St /St Mary St junction early in 1941,removed the left hand turn from Wood St to St Mary St, so service 6 was split:- 6. Cathedral Rd to St Mary St 6A Clarence Rd to Wood St.

The era of the bus - this shot from the late 1970s in Clare Road and the "famous" Brain's sign on the railway bridge, one thing which hasn't changed.

St Davids Day 1942, marked the end of the Grangetown trams, since the new AEC trolleybuses began operating from Clarence Rd to the GWR Station, Wood St. All of the tram track from the Clare Rd Depot to Clarence Rd was abandoned, but strange to say a new service was introduced, it was 14 Clare Rd Depot to Victoria Park. (Weekdays only,until This service operated via Clare St and Neville St as did the original 14's.

By November 1942, the trolleybus wiring was completed. The new trolleys then commenced operating between Clarence Rd and Cathedral Rd via St Mary St. The end came for Grangetown on 25th August 1946, when the service 14 was withdrawn and the tracks in Neville St and Lower Cathedral Rd abandoned. At the same time Clare Rd depot was closed for tramcars. A sad time for me aas I now had to start a new term at Canton High School by bus or my bicycle.The Grangetown trams were no more.

Bob asks:- 1. Did the electric cars ever use that depot and are thee any pictures of the building being used as tram depot? 2. Are there any pictures of the No 12 double decker cars at Clive St terminus?

Hard to believe, when we're lucky to have a ticket machine or one that works on the platform these days. In the 1920s, Grangetown station was run by Great Western Railways - the days of the pocket watch and 10 staff.


The Cridland and Sons coach company in Paget Street ran trips for local groups. HJ Cridland started with a horse and cart, delivering goods to and from the docks. This vehicle was in grey, cream and black and dates from about 1930. The family firm later became undertakers.

George VI's coronation in 1937 - Grangetown didn't need an excuse for a knees up, with one of the many parties being held in Warwick Street. Peter Ellis writes with a few names for the faces - his grandmother Elizabeth Anne Moorcraft is standing in the back row next to the woman holding the baby, Mrs Chelmis. The baby is named Peter. Mrs Cross is next to her then third from the left is Vena Mitchell. Mrs Legg is next to Vena. The woman last in the front row to the right, with the baby on her lap, is believed to be Mrs Buckland (nee Harrison). The girl in the black dress in the top row right hand side could be Rita Legg, whose mum is in the front row. Mrs Bucklandís sister Miss Harrison is in the back row, third in from the right with her hand on her sister's shoulder.


The Ninian cinema, known as "The Nin" in Penarth Road was Grangetown's picture palace for nearly 60 years from 1914 - starting in the silent movie era before becoming a popular fixture for generations of Hollywood film fans. It seated 600 but went the way of so many provincial cinemas when it closed on January 20th 1972. The last film it showed was Puppet On A Chain. The then-owners Jackson Withers Circuit Ltd, who also owned the Monico and Plaza (North Road) cinemas in the city, turned it into one of their bingo halls.

Local councillor Philip Dunleavy at the time, recalled "The Bughouse," as many flea-pits were called, as a haven of escape. "When I was a boy we used to love the shows with cowboy heroes like Buck Jones and Tom Mix," he told the Echo after its closure. "During the depression is was something of a Grangetown institution; somewhere people could go to keep warm."

The Nin's demise left eight cinemas remaining across the city. It was also the latest in a line of cinema closures, starting with The Gaiety in City Road (1961) to the Central in The Hayes (1969). After its time as a bingo hall, the building became a store. Today it's still standing and is currently a shop selling silks.

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