or “the Prebend of Fairwell” as early documents refer to it, was originally a
possession of Llandaff Cathedral. In 1553 the lands were sold to Miles Mathew,
before later passing first to the Romilly family and then in 1852 to William
Sheward Cartwright, from whom Cartwright Lane takes its name. In the early 20th
century just over 100 people lived in Fairwater and the district presented a
picturesque rural scene. Howard Spring remembers happy boyhood days spent
fishing in a stream, “crossed by a railway bridge, whose embankment was at
times like a long snowdrift, so thickly the dog daisies grew there”.
The heart of the district was to be found around
Fairwater Green and the brook
trickled down Cartwright Lane on its way to the River Ely. On one side of the
Green was Swiss Cottage, later known as the Smithy, a beautiful half-timbered
house with mullioned windows and barley sugar chimneys. Near Swiss Cottage was
the 18th century Brook Farmhouse. On the opposite side of the Green stood a
large chestnut tree, a semi-circle of conifers and a thatched cottage. Before
World War Two, the conifers made way for the shopping centre and, when the
cottage was destroyed in a fire, it was replaced by the Fairwater Hotel which
became the home of the local Conservative Club in 1939.
Among the farming community of Fairwater, there were
Fairwater Croft was the residence of Sir John Courtis, Lord Mayor of Cardiff.
Ty-Gwyn in Fairwater Road was a substantial dwelling built for Harald Dahl and
it was there in 1916 that his son, Roald, was born. Along the same road lay
Fairwater House which no longer exists as it was wrecked by vandals in 1994.
Built in 1840 by David Vaughan, the property was owned in 1929 by Major Edgar
David who, it was said, “took great pride in the appearance of the village”. In
1949 it became one of Cardiff’s first residential homes for the elderly.
The Davids were a very influential
family in Fairwater. Possibly the most impressive residence in the district was
the house designed by John Prichard in the mid-19th century for W.G. David at
Ely Rise. The Gothic style of the house with its steep roofs and tall chimney
stacks is still impressive. During World War Two the house was used by the
Royal Observer Corps, “the eyes and ears of the RAF”, to plot the course of
incoming enemy aircraft. After the war, the Fairwater Conservative Club
purchased the property and turned it into one of the most thriving clubs in
Sometimes described as an Edwardian treasure, Ty
Bronnau on the St Fagans Road was built by Charles Voysey and became the home
of Hastings Watson. Legend has it that Ty Bronnau was haunted by a lady dressed
in grey who was said to be the mistress of Mr. Watson. More than one person
claims to have been awakened as the ghost tried to remove their wedding rings.
When Ty Bronnau ceased to be a family home, it became part of the Glanely
Tubercolosis Hospital. Founded after World War One, the hospital became a
leader in the fight against this scourge and provided a school for nurses
wishing to take the British TB Certificate. Later Ty Bronnau was used as the
headquarters of the South Glamorgan Ambulance Service but, once the building
was unoccupied, it was vandalised and eventually destroyed by fire in 1998.
Fairwater became a suburb of Cardiff in 1922 and by
1939 new houses covered the area between Wellwright Road and Ely Road. Since
World War Two most of the countryside to the north and west of Fairwater has
been urbanised. Brook Farmhouse was bulldozed in 1957, as the farms around
Plasmawr Road began to disappear. Now only the brook remains as a memory of
bygone days. Waterhall Farm gave its name to one large development and, in the
1960s, agricultural land at Pentrebane provided space for another housing
estate. Amid the shopping centres, schools, churches and other social amenities
essential to a growing population, the suburb also provides Cardiff’s only ski
slope for those who wish to practise before trying the real thing.
The Llandaff Society Llandaff (Chalfont Publishing Company 1996)