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An Old Cardiff Court

Old Court off Westgate Street

This a copy of a rare photograph of one of Cardiff's lost courts. For most of its history Cardiff was a small market town. As late as 1800 the population was just 2000. In the early 19th century the town started to industrialise and grow, and the old gardens behind the medieval streets were built on to provide cheap industrial housing known as "courts". This one was located in the block between St Mary Street, Golate, Westgate Street and Guildhall Place. You can just see the southern corner of the main facade of James Howell's great department store on St Mary Street at the top of the picture. This facade helps date the photo because it was built in 1879. My best guess is that the photo was taken in the 1890s, perhaps just before the buildings were demolished. Amateur photgraphers often recorded buildings that were about to disappear. The court was clearly in a bad way and probably dated from the 1830s when the river Taff still flowed along what would became Westgate Street. The river was re channeled in 1849 to provide new land for the central railway station.

The last of Cardiff's old courts is Jones Court off Womanby Street. It was renovated in the 1980s and is now rather smart offices. We usually take a look on "The Hunt for Cardiff's Lost Wall" walking tour.

Thanks to Cardiff Before Cardiff for the picture. There is lots more to see at www.facebook.com/cardiffforever.