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Home / Latest News / Old Grangetown Memories of Cardiff suburb recalled in new book

Old Grangetown Memories of Cardiff suburb recalled in new book

The reminiscences in Old Grangetown Memories Book Two are in part both sad and humorous.

One would have to be a hard nut not to be touched by Alex Peterson’s  extract, Dead Flowers For Christmas, which is housed with the Cardiff Story Museum.

 “One Christmas we had finally reached the position of being homeless. Times  were very hard in the 1920s and 1930s. My mother having given birth to 14 children and in her 50s was dying. One of my sisters had befriended an Italian girl in our latest and last school. And our situation became known to her parents.  They immediately made us move in with them.”

Alex goes on to tell how the Salvatore family, who lived in Havelock Place and who already had a family of eight children, looked after them.

No state hand-outs in those days!

When World War II came along and Italy sided with Germany, the Salvatore family were classed as enemies and were interned. As Alex recalls: “Tony’s family had very little and yet they took us in off the street to share their roof. Wonderful people.”

On a lighter note, Bernard William Butler who lived in Knole Street, recalled: “Coal was delivered  by horse and cart and my grandfather would always have a bucket and shovel ready in the hope that the horse would deposit manure for the garden and allotment.

“Dimascio’s ice cream van was also horse-drawn, so there was also a double chance of a useful haul.”

While Dorothy Hissey, then a traffic warden, writes: “My claim to fame concerns Jim Callaghan. Once while I was working in Newport Road, a car parked on the pavement outside the union offices. I went inside and was told it was Jim’s car. I told the girls:  ‘Tell Jim to come and shift it.’ I waited but he didn’t come, so I went inside and said to them: ‘Tell Jim he’s got a ticket.’ Later that evening I was in the Albions Club and Jim came in and said: ‘Where’s the traffic warden who booked me?’

“He shook hands and said: ‘Fair Enough,’ and that was that.”

Gerald Escott remembered the American troops stationed in Cardiff. “During the War, I lived at 47 Ferry Road, Grangetown, and we had an American camp on the Marl which stretched from Bowles’ Sand and Gravel Wharf to Channel View Road and Ferry Road to the top of Channel View Road. I remember the Yanks giving us sweets and tinned fruit, especially at Christmas time. They were a friendly lot, although there were a few incidents between the black and white American servicemen which involved the local and military police. I recall them being popular with some of the girls at a fairground which was sited near Grangetown Railway Station.

“Us younger lads (I was about seven or eight), used to ask the older girls to get the soldiers to take us on the rides, especially the dodgems.

“Prior to the Americans taking over the camp at the Marl, it was the base for a British Army ‘smokescreen unit’.

“During the summer months residents of Ferry Road would sit outside their houses and count the lorries as they left the depot on route to Penarth Road. They were deployed from the toll gate to the general station  to pump smoke just before and during  the air raids to confuse the enemy.”

Old Grangetown Memories Book Two is available at Clarks Pie Shop, Bromsgrove Street, the Library, Havelock Place, and at Martyn Young Fruit Veg in Penarth Road.

It can also be obtained from Zena Mabbs, 32 Heol Eryr, Nells Point, Barry, CF62 5DA or can also be ordered by phone from Rita Spinola on 029 2034 5962. It costs £4.99 and postage is £1.20.

Graham Williams, of Tintern Street, Canton, Cardiff, is looking for help in setting up a Canton Local History Group.

“I would like to hear from like-minded people who would research Canton and its surrounding areas,” says Graham, who can be contacted by e-mail  at robert.williams292@yahoo.com

You can send your memories and photographs of old Cardiff to Brian Lee, Cardiff Remembered, South Wales Echo, Six Park Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR or e-mail him at brianlee4@virginmedia.com

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2 comments

  1. Stories like the “smokescreen unit” really bring that time back to life. Who on earth thought that one up..?. We really need this type of record to realise how much Cardiff has changed, especially the Cardiff Bay area.

  2. It’s changed a lot during my time. I’m from Maesteg, but I remember an Italian cafe in our town (Belli’s) as there were in many towns around South Wales. I’m not old enough to know how the Italians were treated around the valleys during the war, but I imagine it can’t have been easy.

    You’ve got to love the idea of putting smoke in the air to attract the enemy (if that was their intention) to draw them from the main targets. Truly a different era.