Reminiscences of Old Inhabitants.
ORAL testimony of aged natives is a
most valuable aid in elucidating
the history of a place. It may
not be accurate in detail, but in
the mass it holds a store of information unobtainable from the
written records. A few years ago
I was at some trouble to take the
statements of certain old inhabitants, with reference to
what they remembered of the Cardiff of their young days.
Mr. Luke Evans kindly gave me, in his own handwriting,
minute replies to my queries on various points; besides which he has
often in conversation given me interesting anecdotes about Old Cardiff
and its citizens. The fragmentary Godiva story which has come down
from Mrs. Evans, is just enough to make the student of folk-lore regret
the portion which has been lost, perhaps, for ever. The curious
beliefs and practices connected with holy-wells, mentioned by various
informants, are quite worthy of preservation; and Mr. George
Thomas' tribanau ought not to descend into oblivion, coming as they
do from the last farmer to employ plough-oxen in this neighbourhood.
Appended are a few notes of eccentric characters whose nicknames are familiar in the ears of old Cardiffians.
Mr. WILLIAM LUKE EVANS, who is eighty-four years
of age, was for many years in the service of the Corporation
as Inspector of Weights and Measures. (fn. 1) He is noted for his long
memory and for his intimate knowledge of Old Cardiff. He has
obligingly supplied me with the following notes of his recollections, in
response to enquiries made of him from time to time during the past
ten years. Mr. Evans says:—
"I was a regular Juryman of Lord Bute's Court Leet. It had
cognizance of matters affecting Weights and Measures, the Pounds and
Roath Brook, and made Presentments thereon. It used to be held
in May and November, but now in October, for the Manors of
Llystalybont and Roath Dogfield. Mr. John Stuart Corbett is the
Steward. The Pound and the Brook were presented down to quite
recent years. The Jury of twelve were sworn in, and the names
entered. A fine was payable to the Lord on the death of any
freeholder of the manor being presented. There was an annual
dinner for the Jury, at which punch was drunk.
"I remember the last Aletaster of Cardiff. His name was
Edward Philpot, and his nickname 'Toby Philpot.' I well remember
hearing him say to someone with whom he was talking in the street:
'Well, I must go and see what sort of ale they have got at the Glove
"One day coming out of church, we saw a hare bolt out of the
Blue Bell. We chased it into the Cardiff Arms yard, where it was
caught. We had it for dinner a few days afterwards.
"The old gabled house in Saint Mary Street, at the north corner
of Wharton Street, was called the Armoury. It was the residence of
Capt. Jonathan Howells, Adjutant of the Royal Glamorganshire
Militia, and a great friend of the late Lord Bute, (fn. 2) with whom he was
constantly seen walking arm-in-arm. Lord Bute came up from
London to attend his funeral. There were two steps up to the front
door, and a railing along the front of the house. The headquarters of
the regiment were kept there. I saw Capt. Howell's funeral, which
was a very imposing one.
"In 1882, when making the alterations in the old gas testing
room, for depositing the copies of the Imperial Standards, I forced
open what I thought to be a similar door to the one in the present
Weights and Measures Office, and found it was an arched compartment,
containing some hundreds of old Acts of Parliament, and other documents. I at once communicated with the Town Clerk, and they were
dried and overhauled. They were all covered with a very thick
coating of mildew. They belonged to the old Town Hall. (fn. 3)
"I was at the opening of the Saint Mary Street Market in 1835,
when the Church Street Arcade (or Old Arcade) was opened to the
public, and I have never known it closed from the above date to the
present time. (fn. 4) There were six cottages, three on each side of the
avenue, from time to time occupied by many persons whom I knew;
amongst others: Philip Jones, basket-maker, and his son of the same
name, now (1882) a pensioner of the Post Office; William David,
shoemaker; Samuel Marks, dyer; Julia Marks, tobacconist; Mary
Rowlands and Jane Ellis, dressmakers.
"Thirty years ago the General Post Office was situate in Church
Street, where Boyle & Co's, the bootmakers' now is; and a letter-box
and entrance to the Sorting Department were inside the Arcade,
about 20 feet from the front pavement, open to the public day and
night without let or hindrance from anyone.
"In addition to the ordinary days for holding the markets, namely
Wednesdays and Saturdays, there have been extra markets held whenever Christmas fell in the latter part of the week.
"This property originally belonged to the great-grandsire (fn. 5) of the
owner (fn. 6) of Penllyne Castle, near Cowbridge. The family residence
was the house now occupied by Mr. Dobbin, stationer, (fn. 7) and was
connected by a long garden with Trinity Street. This house was
called the Corner House. Its then occupant was always called 'the
Squire,' and is so now by the few old inhabitants remaining.
"The mansion was in those days noted for having good port
wine in wood, and the Squire no doubt had his share of it. His end
fast approaching, his medical attendant, Dr. Reece (grandfather of our
present Coroner) intimated to the old gentleman that he was afraid
he should have to tap him, as dropsy had set in. The Squire replied:
'Well, Doctor, if you must, you must. But, you know, there never
was a cask tapped in the Corner House that lasted very long.' In a
few days all was over with the Squire.
"Shortly afterwards the old house was converted into a Bank by
Messrs. Guest & Co., of London and Dowlais. Mr. Thomas Revel
Guest, (fn. 8) the first Mayor of Cardiff, was the managing partner. He
was a noted preacher amongst the Wesleyan Methodists, and occasionally held forth in the Wesley Chapel, Church Street, situate where
Mr. John Hibbert's shop is now.
"Where the Town Hall stands I remember a 300 ton bring, called
the "William Rugg," built and launched. She was owned by William
Rugg, ironmonger, of Duke Street. The people on board of her
were so excited, and rocked her to such an extent, that she turned on
her side and the live cargo were precipitated into the tidal water.
From the windows of the Council Chamber only one house could then
have been seen right away to Leckwith and Cogan Pill, namely, the
"The tidal harbour of Cardiff was situate where Westgate Street
now stands. Quay Street was the entrance to the shipping, where
passengers were taken on board the market-boats bound for Bristol.
If these had started, the last place for shipment was the Golate, the
lane between the Queen's Hotel and the South Wales Daily News
offices. Hence its present name. (fn. 9)
"The Bonded Stores of the harbour were situate on the Quay
Wall in Westgate Street, and still exist, being now occupied by
Mr. Alderman Fulton. (fn. 10) Over them was the Cardiff Theatre. An
amusing incident occurred one night when the play of "Pizarro" was
being performed there. A death scene was enacted, including a
Requiem Mass with all its attendant solemnity, pomp and music.
Suddenly the gallery gave way with a loud crash, causing great
excitement. The corpse, with equal suddenness, jumped up in its
sitting, (fn. 11) the face floured and cork-burnt, and exclaimed in a stentorian
voice: 'I hope to God there is no danger !' On being assured that
the danger was over, the body fell back into the horizontal position,
awaiting burial, and the play proceeded.
"Where the Fire Engine House is now, there was a limekiln.
The stones were brought in vessels from Aberthaw and burnt into
lime—not for building purposes (as there was little or no building
going on) but for agricultural use.
"The Custom House of the Port was in Saint Mary Street, near
Councillor Jotham's shop. The Collector resided where the Central
Coffee Tavern is , and the Comptroller near Alderman Dr.
Jones' residence in Crockherbtown. (fn. 12)
"I remember two persons (whose names I must not repeat)
being placed in the stocks, which were put up where High Street,
Church Street, Saint Mary Street and Quay Street converge, and
near where the old Russian gun (fn. 13) stood for many years. The stocks
were in the custody of David Evans, Head Constable; who was also
the landlord of the Cardiff Boat inn in Quay Street, adjacent to the
then tidal port of Cardiff. When not in use, the stocks were kept in
the Corn Market, under the old Town Hall. Whether they were
burnt with the other old timber, when that building was pulled down
in 1861, by the late Mr. Alderman Daniel Jones who purchased the
materials for £100, I cannot say; but when looking under the new
Town Hall, some years since, for the aforesaid instrument of punishment, we found the old Town Hall clock and bell. The latter was
erected over the present Police Station as a fire-alarm; but becoming
cracked, was replaced by a new one. (fn. 14) The stocks consisted of two
planks of timber on edge, with semicircular holes in each, an iron
hinge at one end, and a lock and key the other.
"I can remember a man being tied to a cart's tail, for some
heinous offence, and dragged and flogged through the market held in
"Under the old Town Hall in High Street was the prison for
small debtors. Its iron-barred window faced the house occupied by
Dr. Reece—now the furniture shop, No. 14 High Street, tenanted by
Messrs. Williams & Co. There was a well in the middle of High
Street, opposite Lloyd's Bank (the old Brecon Bank). The pump was
situate under one of the flights of steps which led up to the Assize
Court in the Town Hall, and was exactly opposite the front door of
Messrs. Coleman's, chemists.
"The Dobbin Pits Farm was situate at the extreme end of Park
Place (Dobbinpits Road), near the Cathays Park. A stile led from the
farmyard into the Park. This land, being so near the town, was
convenient for the deposit of soil; there being, in years gone by, no
sub-drainage in the Borough.
"Plwca Lane, or Plwca Alai, (fn. 15) , is the thoroughfare now called
Castle Road, which extends from Longcross to Crwys Bychan. Plwca
means dirty, wet, uncultivated land. Rushes originally grew hard by
the lane, and mats were made of them, and sold in the town for
domestic purposes. Alai means an alley. (fn. 16) Sixty-five years ago (1830)
the habitations in Plwca Lane consisted of Roath Castle and six small
cottages in two fields now the site of James' Square. (fn. 17) Roath Castle
belonged to Mr. John Mathews Richards, grandfather of Mrs. Mackintosh. Her father, Mr. Richards, on returning from Cardiff, was in the
habit of galloping his horse all the way from Newport Road to Roath
Castle. The last occasion of his so doing proved fatal, for he came
into collision with a cart loaded with manure, and died on the spot.
This was a sad loss to Cardiff and the neighbourhood. I was a
Juryman on the Inquest. Mr. Richards had been to a ploughingmatch dinner. He was short-sighted, and wore an eyeglass. He
walked with short steps and a curious little hop.
"The Longcross was in my time the name of a house which
stood on the site of the Infirmary, and was one of only nine buildings
from the Taff Vale Railway to Roath Court, including the Spital Barn
and a blacksmith's shop. The barn was pulled down to make the
Rhymney Railway. I think the name Longcross refers to the four
cross-roads. (fn. 18) There was a very fine elm-tree on the corner of the
Longcross Road, and it is said that suicides were buried under that
"The Black Friars buildings were in existence about the year
1830, in the Cooper's Fields, and were inhabited by the Lucas family.
"The County Gaol was situate where Messrs. Steddall the
mantle-makers are in business, opposite the present Town Hall; and
the entrance to the yard where the gallows (hence 'Gallhouse') was
placed was in a building about 30 yards off Saint Mary Street, which
had been a large pigeon-house. About 12 feet from the ground was a
platform with iron ornamental work on the two sides and the front.
Here was erected the wooden gallows on which Richard Lewis
('Dick Penderin') was hanged for participating in the Merthyr riots
of 1831; whom I saw hanging but did not see hanged, being then at
school at six o'clock in the morning. We were not allowed out until
the breakfast hour. In the same year Joe Kayes, a Cardiff man, was
hanged for his participation in the Bristol riots, and his body was
brought to Cardiff for burial and deposited in a cottage at the back of
Messrs. Morgan & Co.'s premises in the Hayes. I went with the late
Dr. C. Redwood Vachell to see the body.
"I remember coracles being used at Cardiff, as long as I can
remember anything. Old Mr. James Lucas, the fisherman, was
drowned about 70 years ago (c. 1825) in endeavouring to land
opposite the Black Friars, from his coracle, during an immense flood
of the Taff, such as often occurred before the river was straightened.
He was of an old Cardiff family of fishermen, and many of his
descendants occupy good positions now. Forty years or more ago
(c. 1854) Mr. J. Lucas could be seen drawing salmon from his coracle,
at the site of the present Royal Hotel. He lost his life at sea, as a
pilot of the Port of Cardiff. Salmon were exceedingly abundant here
at the beginning of the present century, and were far from being
esteemed a delicacy.
"The last thatched house in the town proper (not including
Spittle Cottages) was opposite the old Theatre in Crockherbtown. It
was inhabited by a shoemaker, who took the tickets at the Theatre.
"The first theatre that is known about was opened by Williams'
company in a loft over the extensive stabling belonging to Mr. John
Bradley, contractor for conveying His Majesty's mails through South
Wales. This gentleman was grandfather of our respected townsman
Mr. W. B. Watkins (fn. 19) (late Alderman, and Registrar of Births &c.), and
Mr. R. Reece Watkins, and great-grandfather of Mr. William Bradley,
Solicitor. This theatre was in Quay Street. Here happened the
amusing incident of the resuscitated corpse, above related.
"Soon after this the Theatre was removed to Trinity Street, with
an entrance in Working Street. It was situate between the site of the
present Free Library and the old Royal Hotel, on the property of Mr.
(afterwards Sir) John Guest. Its stay here was short, and the building
was subsequently used as an Infant School for the joint Parishes of
Saint John and Saint Mary.
"Shortly afterwards another theatre was started, known as
Collins' Theatre, near the site of the present Town Hall.
"In 1827 the old Theatre in Crockherbtown was built, by a
company of gentlemen who did not care much about its being a paying
concern—or if they did they were disappointed. Each subscriber to
the undertaking enjoyed the privilege of a silver ticket giving free
admission to the performances at all times. Soon after its first
opening the pit of this theatre was flooded by water from the
adjoining field, a nursery garden belonging to Messrs. Miller & Sweet,
of Bristol. About 1836 the Feeder was cut for the West Bute Dock,
by Messrs. Dalton & Wm. Dawson. That excavation passing near
and below the Theatre, completely drained the pit, and the performances were regularly carried on until the building was burned down
in 1877, under the management of Kate Kenealy.
"Subsequently a limited company started the Theatre Royal in
Wood Street, Temperance Town, with great success; and in 1880
the Grand Theatre in Westgate Street was licensed for the legitimate
WILLIAM MORGAN HIER EVANS, (fn. 20) Esq., M.B., whose
maternal grandfather, Mr. Morgan, occupied Ty Gwyn (otherwise
Pen-y-lan farm), the barn of which now forms the convent chapel, said
that the well in the present grounds of Well-Field was formerly on
the lands of Ty Gwyn. He could not remember that it bore any distinctive name. He wrote: "My mother tells me that the well at
Penylan was a bowl of about six inches in diameter, with a lip that
was supposed to be an impression of Jesus Christ's knee. The water
emerged from the rock and was walled over. On Easter Monday a
large number of people wended their way thither to drop bent pins
into the well, but my mother does not remember that any curative
value was attached to the well. My father put a stop to the annual
pilgrimage when he became tenant of Ty Gwyn Farm.
"There was a spring (fn. 21) situate in Albany Road, opposite the end
of Claude Road, which had the reputation of curing all kinds of eye
The abovenamed Mrs. Evans used to relate a legend to the effect
that a lady was compelled to ride on horseback naked around Waun
Treoda, as far as Waun Ddyfal, where both horse and rider were weary.
In folk-etymology Waun Treoda means "the horse trots"; Waun
Ddyfal, "the horse is weary." (fn. 22)
About the year 1860, Dr. Evans often visited the house called
Castle Field, near Llystalybont. In the field adjoining the house,
after the plough had been through the soil, he and others occasionally
found fragments of red (apparently Roman) pottery, and coins which
he distinctly remembered were Roman. His uncle long preserved some
of these coins.
The late Mr. GEORGE THOMAS, of Ely Farm, whose ancestors
had lived there since the reign of Elizabeth, was a rare specimen of a
Welsh yeoman of the old type. He was born in 1824, died 1828. (fn. 23)
Mr. Thomas told me that he was the last person who used oxen for
ploughing in the neighbourhood of Cardiff, and that he discontinued
the custom in or about the year 1850. When driving the ox-teams in
the plough, the men would sing rhymes, called tribanau, to the beasts.
These songs were made up of disconnected verses, each containing
some topical allusion—mostly satirical, on local personages. Some of
the rhymes were very coarse. They were sung always to a particular
refrain, of which Mr. Thomas gave me an example, singing it in the old
traditional style. I am indebted to him for the following notes.
A great composer of tribanau. often impromptu, was James
Turbervill, who was born 1751 on Ely Common, as recorded in the
(fn. 24) made against him by Twm Llewelyn, Llantrisant:—
Siemsyn Twrbil smala,
A godwyd ar y Cimdda,
Rwyt wedi dysgu iaith dy fam,
A hono gan y gwydda. (fn. 25)
The following are attributed to Turbervill:
One day, when he was ploughing on Ely Farm, in the field
adjoining the Cowbridge Road, a group of girls were gossiping at the
well, which then existed hard by. One of them threw a clod of earth
at Turbervill, who broke out into this triban:—
Mae merched gl?n yn Dwllgod,
Ag yn Lland?f rhai hynod,
Ag yn y Caerau aml rhai,
Ond yn Drelai clec?od. (fn. 26)
[Notice the dialectal "yn Drelai" for yn Nhrelai, and "clec?od" for
Y tri lle oera yn Gymru,
Yw mynydd bach y Rhydre,
Trwyn y Garth a Chefn On,
Lle buai bron a sythu. (fn. 27)
[This rhyme, altered to suit the various localities, was common in
other parts of South Wales.]
O Mali fwyn eleni
Y forwyn fwya yn Gymru,
A thwll ei ffwrch i guwch a'r to—
Pwy fyniff dro gan Mali ? (fn. 28)
The above verse was James' revenge on some offending country girl.
Yn Llanilltyd Faerdre
Mae yno'r merched glana
A welais i erioed (fn. 29)
Yn codi ei choes dros gamfa. (fn. 30)
Mae'n bwrw glaw dinatur,
Mae'n glychu dyn yn fudr;
Thro'i ddim y mhen yn ol
Oddyma i Groeswen Radyr. (fn. 31)
Mi ddala bunt mewn ceinog,
Y caiff y meistres wybod
Fod y meistr ar y Graig
Yn cadw gwraig cymydog. (fn. 32)
There were great rejoicings in 1730, when Elizabeth Lewis, the
heiress of the Van, was married to Otho, third Earl of Plymouth. Mr.
Thomas' great-grandfather was there.
The foundation-stone of Pentyrch ironworks was laid in the year
Right opposite Pontcanna Cottages (fn. 33) was a stone in the road,
marking the division between two parishes. The Cottages are in
Saint John's, and the site of the corner shop opposite is in Llandaff
Mr. WILLIAM LEWIS, corn merchant, Castle Street, said he
visited very frequently the King's Castle. (fn. 34) Although it had undergone
many alterations, it was an old-fashioned house. You went down at
least one step to enter the house; and you could easily touch the
ceiling with your hand.
The main stream from Llandaff Mill flowed into the Taff at
Pontcanna; but there was a branch stream which flowed into the Taff
lower down, just at the point where now the rails at the far end of the
Sophia Gardens project across the path and into the river. The lower
end of this branch stream formed the parish boundary, between Llandaff and Saint John's parishes. I remember seeing people beating the
bounds there. On those occasions they walked right through the
the river, up to their waists.
Extracts from a letter of Mr. W. DAVIES, Bridgend, 15 March 1899.
When I came to Cardiff, in 1854, there were many streets which
are not to be seen there now, such as Smith Street and the Arcade, or
At the entrance to Queen Street there was a large ancient
building in the centre of the street, dividing that part of Smith Street
on the north side, and where the Three Cranes inn was, and the
Running Camp on the south.
The Taff Vale Railway station in Queen Street in 1842, when I
first passed through Cardiff to Trefforest, was a wooden structure.
There was a bell fixed on two upright posts, which was rung
the first time to warn intending passengers to prepare for the
journey; rung the second time to come to the station; rung the third
time to announce the train was going to start. The T.V.R. was then
a single line. An open box truck was the second and third class
passenger carriage, with an iron chain in the middle to divide the
second and third class passengers. The second class had seats in
rows, the third had only seats on the sides of the division.
There was a very interesting memento of the old T.V.R. days, in
the possession of the late Philip Lucas, a carpenter formerly in the
company's service. It was a panel with the T.V.R. arms beautifully
painted, representing the red dragon with the motto "Y ddraig goch a
ddyry gychwyn" (fn. 35)
overhead, and "Cymru fu a Chymru fydd" (fn. 36) underneath.
These panels were designed for decorating the T.V.R. passenger
carriages. When the carriages were made, a poor local Welshman
was engaged by a Bristol firm to assist in their decoration, and in
particular to paint this design. The Bristol workmen would not have
him to work on the same side of the carriages as themselves, which
was considered the front; but put him to paint the back of the
carriages. The late Mr. Fisher, when he came to examine the work,
found that the Welshman's work was far superior to the Bristolians;
so the Welshman's side had to be the front, and the Englishmen's the
Notes of Information orally given to the Archivist by Mrs. MARY
HARRIS and Mr. JOB RICHARDS, both of Tai, Cochion,
Roath, 17 October 1896.
I found Mrs. Harris a hale and intelligent woman, aged 81 years.
She was born at Rumney, but had livd at Roath nearly all her life.
She spoke Welsh much more readily than English, having known no
English till she was a full-grown woman. Her daughter, aged about
fifty, also spoke Welsh, but less fluently than English. Mr. Richards
was then a hearty, clear-headed man of about 70 years. He was born
in the parish, at Ffynon Bren cottage. He spoke Welsh and English
with equal fluency.
Tai Cochion (fn. 37) was so called from the red pantiles with which it
was formerly roofed. It was originally the parish poorhouse. (H.) (fn. 38)
The long double cottage in Roath Court field, on the Albany
Road, near the Claude Hotel, has no distinctive name. It and the
other two old houses are called "Mr. Williams' old houses." The
long cottage used to have a thatched roof. ("Ty to gwellt oedd o'r
blaen.") The Roath village school was the smallest and easternmost
of this group of houses, the one where the big ash-tree is ("Ile mae'r
onen fawr.") It was kept by a Miss Lewis. The very old thatched
cottage in the field opposite the Claude is called Ty'n-y-coly. (fn. 39) (H.)
The following were the bridges in the immediate neighbourhood:
Pont Tredelerch, or Rumney bridge.
Pont y Rhâth, or Roath bridge, on the Newport road, across the Nant
Mawr by Pengam lane.
Pont Lleici, (fn. 40) carrying the Cefn Coed lane across the Nant Mawr, at the
foot of Pen-y-lan.
"The middle bridge" (y bont genol), across the mill-stream by the
"The bridge by the church" (pont gerllaw'r eglwys), across the Nant
Mawr close to Roath church.
The two last mentioned bridges each consisted of one very large
flat stone, so strong that carts could go over it—("carag fawr iawn
dros yr afon.") H.R.
Pedair Erw Twc was the name of an old thatched house and land
on the west side of Nant Mawr, south of Cyndda Bach. It would be
just where the railings of the recreation ground now are, a little
further north than the newest of the houses. (H.R.)
Goose Lear, or "Gwsler," is the common between Roath Mill
and the Deri Farm, where large droves of geese used to feed. (H.R.)
Just south-east of where is now the Claude Hotel were formerly
two nameless thatched cottages. (H.R.)
Llwyn Celyn was an old thatched house, pulled down years ago.
It stood on the west side of the Nant Mawr, now the lake. There
were several old thatched cottages, on both sides of the Nant, which
have been demolished. (R.)
There were a couple of old thatched houses at the back of "Ty
hên Ifans y Rhâth" (fn. 41) (the house of old Evans of Roath), by Roath
church. The smaller of these was called "the old Clerk's house," and
the clerk lived there. (H.R.)
Penylan Well was never spoken of otherwise than as "hen Ffynon
Pen-y-lan." (fn. 42) It was a spring rising up from a small bason scooped
out of a large stone. After the Easter Monday fair there, the hollow
would be choke-full of bent pins. The fair was called "Ffair
Pen-y-lan," and was frequented by crowds of people from the country
Ffynon Bren was a well situate in the garden of a thatched cottage,
by the side of Albany Road, opposite the end of Claude Road. In
this house Job Richards was born, and it belonged to his father. (fn. 43) Job
often cleaned out the well himself. There was no masonry about it,
but a hedge surrounded it, and approach to the well was over a stile.
People came to the well from far and near, with bottles and tins, to
carry home the water. They took it, both externally and internally,
as a cure for bad eyes. They did not drop pins into the well. His
father did all he could to prevent people going to the well, as they
fouled it. It was the finest water he ever knew. You might stir up
the mud as much as you liked, but in half an hour the well would be
as clear as crystal. It never dried up, and never froze. Job has
known people come there with pots and pans for water, when they
couldn't get it anywhere else. The water of "yr hen Ffynon Bren"
was like ice in the summer, and like milk in the winter. "You could
drink so much as you'd like at it." (R.)
The thatched cottage on the Albany Road, among the trees, near
the well, was called "Lleison's House," after a man who lived there.
Job Richards has heard his father tell how, when the latter was a
boy, he used to perambulate the bounds of Roath parish, with other
boys. This was locally termed "Walking the feethe." To impress
the bounds on their memory, the boys were sometimes pushed into the
streams. A boy was once pushed into the Rhymney river; he stuck
in the mud, and was rescued with difficulty. Job's father was
pushed into the Long Dyke, near the house of that name which stood
about where the Splot Schools now are. The boys' attention would
be called to something, and then someone would push them into
the water. When the bounds had been "beaten," the boys were
invited to assemble in the evening, and were given a supper, with
presents of money or other gifts.(R.)
Eccentric Characters of Old Cardiff.
"Peg the Wash," an old washerwoman who used to run after the
boys with a stick, in the streets.
"Dammy Sammy," an old man who lived near Lanrumney. He
used to swear at the boys when they passed his cottage.
"Hairy Mick," a lamplighter.
"Cough Candy," a dwarfish vendor of sweet-stuff, who wore a
tall hat covered with advertisement papers.
"Billy-my-stick," a pedagogue who kept a school in North
Stibbs the barber was one of the best-known characters in the
town, in the early part of the 19th century. Among others of the
witty sayings of this Cardiffian Figaro, the following has been handed
down by oral tradition. The vicar of St. John's, the Rev. Mr.
Stacey, one day called upon Stibbs and reminded him that his tithes
were very much in arrear. "But, Sir," said the barber, "I never go
to your church." "I can't help that," replied Mr. Stacey, "there is the
church for you, open every Sunday, if you chose to use it." This
argument having no effect, the parson subsequently sent Stibbs a bill
for the tithes due, amounting to a considerable sum. A few days later
the vicar was amazed to receive a lengthy document purporting to be
an account of moneys owing by him to Stibbs for shaving and hairdressing. Off to the barber's shop went the reverend gentleman, in
great indignation. "Look here, Stibbs," said he, "what do you mean
by sending me this bill; you have never shaved me or dressed my
hair." "I can't help that, Sir, indeed," was the reply, "here is my
shop open every day of the week for you, if you chose to use it."
Stories of this kind are never spoilt with an anti-climax; but we may
be permitted to conjecture that the barber's bill proved an effective
set-off against that of the clergyman. Barber Stibbs came of an old
Cardiff stock. The name of Lionel Stibbs, cooper, occurs frequently
in the old Town Books. He was admitted a Burgess in 1784. His
father bore the same Christian name, and their descendants are still
among the inhabitants of the town.