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Cardiff’s Dark Nativity | John F. Wake

THE-LAST-PUB-IN-THE-NOTORIOUS-BUTE-TERRACE-AREA-AWAITS-DEMOLITION-IN-THE-1970s.-THE-TREDEGAR.

Cardiff Then. Bute Terrace, about 50yds from Bute St lights in 1876, at around 2 am in the doorway of a butcher’s shop. On her own and very distressed, Ann, around 30 years, gave birth ‘whilst standing up’. It was her screams that bought her to the attention of Constables. One wrapped the baby in his handkerchief. Mrs Stone in the Tredegar Pub was woken by a banging on her door, she took Ann in, and a Doctor later gave assistance.

Bute Terrace Area

Her story (summarised) has similarities to the Nativity. She was from a respectable family in Llantwit Major, but her work in servitude in Cardiff had gone wrong. Her life crashed around her. Lodgings were one room hovels and associates from the ‘dark side’.

On the day before she gave birth, she begged admittance to the Workhouse. She was refused. She tried lodgings in Red Cow Lane, all full. The police tried to help, Sgt Willy (loads written on him already) and others tried to get her into Charlotte Street lodgings, but the rooms were part of brothels and disorderly houses. She had lodged there before. No-one wanted a heavily pregnant woman, especially when she had no money and no means thereafter of getting it. The police sergeant wrote notes to be given to constables and then lodging house keepers. Nothing. It was probable the cramped Wharf St police station was full, as it catered for homeless itinerants as well as the violent arrested. The St Mary St police declined her also.

The Red Cow Pub

Ann wandered the central town streets, ending up in Bute Terrace, in a shop doorway, where the terrified young woman gave birth, on her own! From the Tredegar, mother and baby, were taken by hansom cab to the Workhouse Infirmary. She was destitute with only 2 pennies to her name. I believe that the baby, she called Daniel, died within a year. She died soon after. As was the norm in those times, no-one would have asked, or even wanted to know, who the father may have been.

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Cardiff’s Dark Nativity | John F. Wake

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