History – 1898 to the present day
The Old Laundry has been in existence since 1898, serving the local community in many different ways. As you probably already know it has most recently been a pine furniture and carpet showroom. We also know that it has served as a children’s play centre and a frozen food market. We have started researching into the full history and will be adding all we know to the currently sparse history below. But we don’t just want a list of owners and dates, we want to know what it meant to the local community, so if you worked there, shopped there, went to the play scheme as a child, or if your grandfather was an Architect with Habershon and Fawckner (some connection to Habershon Street in Splott maybe?), then help us complete the history by telling us your story.
27th May 1897 – The local council grant approval to the Cardiff Steam Laundry Company to build the laundry. The architects are Habershon & Fawckner who went on to design many of the buildings on Marlborough Road, perhaps explaining some similarities in style to the old Church house near the Albany road roundabout. for those who are interested in these things, or even better can find a copy, the plan number was 12229.
The first proprietor was R. Leech Steele, at this point the business was known as the Roath Sanitary Steam Laundry. The business was then taken over by Corner Henry and Co, who seem to have been in charge up until the late 1920’s.
July 1911 – “GOOD WORK IN CARDIFF STRIKE” was the headline of the women’s labour league notes of the The Labour Leader newspaper on 4th August 1911. The branch president and Mrs. Scholefield, the secretary, met with other members to provide help and advice to the laundry women. The following Monday the ‘great march’ took place – a procession of cigar girls, bottling girls and laundry workers under the banner of the Worker’s Union. By Wednesday the Cory Hall was packed with Laundry workers “intelligent, eager and prompt to the directions of the chairman“. A representative committee was elected and the Laundry Workers Charter was drafted. Even before the first draft was completed the workers received an urgent message from the owners of the Laundry with a request to meet. In response to the strike action the Laundry owners had formed an association that morning and were keen to come to terms. The negotiators were “business like, and eager for settlement; we came to terms in a friendly spirit, and the charter, which lifts this industry from chaos to ordered progress, was signed“.
C1930 – The building is taken over by United Welsh Mills. They operated up until at least 1972.
That’s all we have for now, we’ll keep updating though, in the meantime tell us what you know!