Coppers and Prostitutes – 1960s Style | John F. Wake

In Cardiff in the 1960s, the police at Bute Street (Tiger Bay) station were part of the social fabric of the area. Everyone knew everyone else. The system seemed to work. There were some hiccups, but, in general it worked well. Take for example the ‘girls’ who worked the top of Bute Street around the […]

What to Do with Habitual Drunk, Margaret Casey, 14 years old? | John F. Wake

Young Margaret Casey had been in trouble all her very short life. Assaults, fighting, disorderly conduct and this before she was ten years of age in 1881! After ten, she appeared in Cardiff town courts  on four occasions and was given a wide range of sentences all designed to assist her well-being, including corporal punishment. […]

Death of a Chimney Sweep | John F. Wake

Surely one of the most graphic examples of the harshness of back street life emanates from the year of 1909. A chimney sweep should have had a prosperous lifestyle in Edwardian Cardiff, a busy bustling city gobbling up coal in every building, be it business or residential. Edward Lewis had been scrambling up chimneys, using […]

Cardiff’s Francis Drake and London’s Tower Bridge (1900) | John F. Wake

Francis Drake, from Cardiff, was described as a wandering lunatic by a certain court official. His behaviour was indeed strange. Police on London’s Tower Bridge saw Francis Drake, then in his thirties, take off his coat and clothes, and then climb over the parapet. He hung there by his arms some way above the murky […]

The Destitute Musician – A Forgotten Cardiff Hero | John F. Wake

East Canal Wharf, Cardiff, outside the York Pub back in 1895 at 7.30pm one Monday. Fred and three fellow ‘pub-to-pub’ musicians exited the York, they heard a loud splash and, upon looking to their left, saw a woman in the water of the Glamorganshire Canal, almost under the GWR rail bridge. Hero Fred, (accordion player) […]

The Pembrey Baby Farmers (1912–17) | 18+ | John F. Wake

Content warning: child abuse, murder. This is not a pleasant read, and is suitable only for those aged 18 or over. The most famous of the baby farmer murderers in the early part of the 20th century in Wales, was Rhoda Willis. She was called the Splott baby farmer and was executed at Cardiff Prison. […]

Whisky Coming Out of the Newborn Baby’s Nostrils? | John F. Wake

It is hard to believe what some of the archive and court reports say about human behaviour during Victorian times. One can only research and write about the injustice that took place. Take, for example, a Pillgwenlly, Newport woman called Catherine, who was 39 years of age when this story took place in the 1890s. […]

Victorian Back Street Sex: Cause and Effects | John F. Wake

Not to put to finer point on certain aspects of marriage a century or two ago, there seemed no equality in sex life as far as married women were concerned. Traditionally, a man could claim his conjugal rights when he wanted them and the feelings of the wife were secondary in the bedroom. It seems […]

David Lloyd George MP: The Day That Could Have Changed History | John F. Wake

With Sunday Drinking Act and associated problems in the early part of the 20th century, illegal drinking dens, shebeens, became common. Cardiff was famous for them and there were certain streets that were more infamous than famous. Infamous means ‘ill fame’ from Latin, and they certainly were in the streets named Mary Ann and Stanley. […]