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    LLANDAFF NORTH

 

Population: 8,250

 

Llandaff North lies across the river from Llandaff and has been a suburb of Cardiff since 1922.The district was already a busy place before the end of the 19th century and there were enough children living in the area to warrant the building of Hawthorn School. By 1920 the neat, terraced houses of the streets near Llandaff Bridge and around Station Road were virtually completed. Both the Methodists and the Anglicans had their own churches and All Saints was described as “a chapel of ease to the cathedral”. The church was badly damaged in World War Two and, in common with the cathedral, it rose like a phoenix from the ashes.

For a long time, Llandaff North owed much of its importance to the Glamorganshire Canal. When Merthyr was the “iron capital of the world”, the canal was its principal highway to the port of Cardiff. Rather like railway sidings, a wharf or yard was needed at every township along the canal to assemble, load and unload cargo. Hence the district was known as Llandaff Yard until 1910. The building of the railways lessened the canal’s importance but it continued to act as a distribution point for industries lying along its banks. Some of these were not for the squeamish. The South Wales Manure Company steamed bones from slaughtered horses into manure, while another firm manufactured fiddle strings and similar articles from animal gut. There were also a number of patent fuel works, a soap factory and the Crown Matchworks.

Evans’ Eagle Foundry was sited adjacent to Llandaff Lock, where barges deposited their raw material from the iron works of Merthyr. The foundry was not large but remained in business until the 1930s. Street signs, man hole covers and drain covers, inscribed with the firm’s insignia, “Evans, Llandaff”, can still be seen in Cardiff today.

            That area of Llandaff North between the canal and the railway line remained largely rural until after World War Two. Apart from a few houses and the Crown Hotel, College Road was just a country road linking Llandaff North with Whitchurch. The only exception was the Gwaun-tre-Oda Engineering Works, near the railway line, which was later taken over by the Fram Construction Company.

            A bridge across the Taff has marked the approach to Llandaff North from Llandaff for hundreds of years. In May 1648 Colonel Horton and his army crossed the river at this point as they hastened to the Battle of St Fagans. The modern visitor has a choice of pleasing views while crossing the bridge. On one side are the playing fields of Hailey Park and on the other is a picturesque view of the cathedral.

The old industries that thrived along the banks of the Glamorganshire Canal are no more and the open countryside, which once led to Western Avenue, Gabalfa and Whitchurch, has been swallowed up by modern housing development. The canal was filled in after World War Two and now only a green sward near the Cow and Snuffers marks its route.

This pub, originally known as the Red Cow, is the oldest hostelry in Llandaff North, though much of it was rebuilt in 1905. It seems to have gained its unusual name from the lyric of a song in a musical farce, first performed in Dublin. A bust of Benjamin Disraeli can be seen at the first floor level. His secretary maintained that the great man, intrigued by the name, once spent a night there. Distaeli denied this story but he was a friend of Wyndham Lewis who owned much of Llandaff North. When Lewis died, Disraeli married his widow. Her name was Mary Anne and, though she was much older than he was, the marriage proved to be a real love match. More than once, she mischievously boasted, “Dizzy married me for my money but if he had the chance again, he would marry me for love”.

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Further Reading:

 

Llandaff Society Llandaff (Chalfont Publishing 1996)