A WALK AROUND BARRY
The walk starts at the Theatre Royal. (Click here for a map)
This building was built as a result of a mistake by the owners of the old Theatre Royal and Hippodrome which was destroyed in a fire in 1909. The owners decided to rebuild it on the site of the present Theatre, but the insurers refused to pay out unless it was rebuilt on the old site. Barry therefore had two theatres within close proximity to each other. The old building was renamed The Kings Hall, (now The Savoy), the new one became the Theatre Royal.
Across the road at the new bridge was Holton Fach. In the 1879 map of Barry there are two buildings in the area named Holton - Holton Fach and Holton Fawr, and there is another Holton near Williams Stores. Holton Road used to run from the Theatre buildings up to the Colcot Road.
At the bottom of College Road (formerly named Flora Street), is F.J.Tyres. This building was once a garage that was owned and run by Mr. Tom White; his company, Thomas White (Cardiff & Barry) Ltd. became one of the largest private bus companies in the area. On his death in 1935, the business was purchased by the Western Welsh. Opposite is the former Western Welsh Bus Depot.
The next street is Hilda Street, and between these streets, inserted in the roof apex of one of the houses is a Bathstone plaque, which gives the former name of the road, South View Terrace. This road ran as far as East Street, where it became Barry Dock Road. On the widening of both streets they were renamed Broad Street.
At the corner of Trinity Street where Davies Bros., Builders Merchants, (DeeBee's) were once situated is RAN Tool Hire. In the same block is the Unity Hall built out of money given by Railway workers to build a Hall to use for Union activities. Later it saw use as a Dance Hall and later as a TV repair workshop. Next door is O'Donovan's Garage, later Tanner's.
Trinity Street was one of the boundaries of the Hearth Farm. Princes Street, Broad Street and Windsor Road (High Street side) were the others. Hearth Farm (East Barry House) was bought by Mr. T. A. Walker. This portion of Barry (which became known as "Walkers Town") was mainly inhabited by men employed by him, and he also constructed a great number of buildings for their benefit.
Further along Broad Street, The Four Lanterns in East Street was once a Shoeing Forge run by Mr. Stephens. It was demolished to enable an iron church dedicated to St. Paul, (an Anglican monastic order founded to help distressed sailors) be erected on the site. When it closed in 1912 it was turned into a billiard hall (known to all youngsters in Barry as "The Danker Hall"). The two buildings next door were erected as accommodation for the monks and sailors. Father Austin's report written in December 1894 stated "That this month we managed to find accommodation for 55 homeless men who came to us for help. We live on soup made from bones, thickened with ships biscuits or oatmeal and are grateful for the generous donations of food sent to us for our Christmas and New Year Celebrations."
Along the road from the Priory Buildings was a reading room set up by Mr. Walker for the use of his workmen and their families.
The Co-operative Society, when their premises at 74 High Street proved too small, opened on the corner of Island Road. On 31st August 1923 a fire broke out at the premises and completely destroyed them. After it was rebuilt it later grew until it became one of the largest shop premises in Barry, selling everything that its shareholders required.
On the opposite side of the road near the tunnel leading to the docks was one of the cast iron toilets erected in the 1890's. These were erected near to all the entrances of the docks.
Island Road once led across the docks to Barry Island. The right to drive across it was given up when the Causeway was built, but the right to walk across was retained. At one time it was proposed that a cast iron bridge over 400 yards long would be built, but these plans were dropped and two bridges were built. When the wooden steps leading up the Island bridge rotted and needed replacing the present set of steps were built to replace them. These steps leading to Clive Road were of a necessity very steep and residents complained that you had to be a monkey to climb them (hence the name "The Monkey Steps"). On the opposite corner of Island Road is the Railway Club, known to most of the older residents as "The Snivs".
Brook & Williams, before moving into High Street, ran a printing business at 21 Broad Street. Mr. Brook's sons did not follow him into the business. Tony became the licensee of the Victoria Hotel in Holton Road and the other son Ernie became a teacher, and then the headmaster of St. Cadoc's RC School (now the Richard Gwyn RC School) in Coldbrook.
No. 18 Broad Street was the meeting place of the Barry Working Men's Institute, later to become the meeting room of the Barry Brotherhood. No. 16 was Tommy Trought's Temperance Bar where he sold his own brand of sarsaparilla, and above was the H.Q. of Barry West End Football Club.
Garstone's, Cycle Dealers in No. 8, were one of the few shops to sell motor fuel (Petrol). In 1913 before the development of the Knap took place, an aircraft from Bristol on its way up channel ran out of fuel, and was forced to land near Pebble Beach. This was on a field known as Wilson's Field (at the bridge where the feeder now runs into the lake). The pilot asked the crowd that gathered where he could get fuel and was directed to Garstones. A number of them went with him to collect the cans of fuel required. After refuelling the aircraft he took off, narrowly missing the bank of pebbles. As he flew low over the crowd to thank them for their help they saw painted in large letters underneath the aircraft the name "Sydney Pickles."
One of the best known businesses in the block was Mill's Art Supplies and Picture Framing shop. On the corner of Market Street is one of the most impressive buildings in the road, the London & Provincial Bank that opened in 1898. It closed in the late 70's.
Romilly Snooker Club, which used to be the Romilly Cinema, was once a Market Hall, which like its counterpart in Cadoxton failed to attract enough traders to make it a viable proposition. It too became a theatre, advertising in 1889 a Myriograph which was the first Cinematograph, a fore-runner of the cinemas we know today.
In that year Vint's Grand Choir visited the hall and gave a Concert which was such a success that Leon Vint later returned to Barry and opened his own theatre in Thompson Street. The Market hall was a temporary home to a number of religious denominations who, when their new churches were either being erected, enlarged or re-built, used the premises as a meeting place.
In the same block is the Masonic Hall that opened in 1906, the architect was Mr. J. A. Owen of Cadoxton and the builder W. T. Morgan of Cardiff.
Finally the last building in the road is the Barry Hotel, built in 1890 by Mr. Walker. It was to be named Walker's Hotel but the name failed to find favour and it ended up as the Barry Hotel. At the rear of the hotel the outbuildings built to stable the horses of its patrons, were used by Mr. Hooper, the undertaker, for stabling his horses and to store his funeral carriages.
Before the development of Broad Street Parade, Barry Quoits Club and East Barry House were situated there. East Barry House was owned in the early 19th century by Edward Morgan a fairly wealthy man who moved to Barry from Merthyr Tydfil. His eldest daughter Miss Mary Ann Elizabeth Morgan (Later to become Mrs. Lewis Williams), had a housemaid, Jane Dickens who asked to have time on Sundays to attend the recently rebuilt Bethel Wesleyan Chapel in Cadoxton. This was in the early 1800's. Miss Morgan asked if she could accompany her maid to Church and as a result of her visit to Bethel, Miss Morgan was instrumental in helping to finance the building of many of the Methodist Churches in both Barry and Penarth. Miss Morgan's money helped build many of the Methodist Churches that are still in use today, but Jane Dicken's faith was the impetus for it to happen.
Walking along past the station, on the opposite side of the road is Birdcage Walk. On most Sundays, but especially at Easter, this was the scene of a parade of local ladies dressed in their finery, some on their way back from services at their church or chapel.
In the wall of the walk is a drinking trough fed from a spring - the trough over the years has been badly neglected. At one time ponies and horses used for rides on the sands, when on their way home to Cadoxton, could stop for a drink there. The water was so clean and fresh that attached to the wall of the trough was an iron cup on a chain to enable the public to drink there also.
Walking further along the road, turn right up Harbour Road. On the left is The Elms, and nearby is the Wyndham Conservative Club built in 1899 and named in honour of Mr. W. H. Wyndham Quin, MP. Further up the road is Harbour Cottage, built in 1870 and named for the view it gave of Barry Harbour.
Turn left up Clifton Street, and at the junction of St. Nicholas Road stood Barry Cottage, built for Lord Romilly in the 1850's. It was demolished in 1972 for flats to be built on site.
Across the road is Threshers. The building was erected in the 1860's in a mock Tudor style and is one of the oldest shops in Barry. It came into the ownership of Mr. C. J. Vaughan on his marriage to the daughter of the owner. He applied and was given a licence to open an off-licence on the premises, one of the first in Barry.
Nearby is Old Village Road with its thatched cottages, one of the oldest, "Jordan's Cottage" was demolished in the 1960's. It was built as two cottages in the early 1800's for farm labourers on the Jones estate. The remaining cottages, built by the Romilly Estate in the 1860's, were saved from demolition after The Barry Preservation Society successfully fought for their retention.
The continuation of Old Village Road, which was part of Love Lane, (the old Parish road that ran from Porthkerry to Cold Knap) takes you to Park Road. Turning right takes you along to Courtlands which is built on the site of the old Barry Tennis Club's courts and part of "Lusty's" orchard, which was always handy for an apple to eat on the way to the beach.
Opposite is Bethel Baptist Church. Built in 1903, it replaced the original Church, one of the "Tin Tabernacles" that was used until it became too small for its congregation and was sold in 1902. The tin building was rebuilt at the junction of Everard Street and Holton Road and is now used as a Scout Hall.
Just a short distance down Harbour Road was a market garden owned and run by Mr. Malpas who sold what he grew from his shop in High Street.
Moving down Porthkerry road, on the left is Porthkerry Methodist Church which opened in 1898. The schoolroom opened at an earlier date, but the memorial tablet is so badly eroded that it cannot be read.
Opposite is Windsor Road United Reformed Church, one of the most impressive churches in Barry. It has Sunday School rooms, together with other smaller rooms for use by its members, a large assembly hall complete with a stage for church concerts and the Church's very own drama group "The Windsor Road Players." The Church opened in 1904. A smaller Church was built in Windsor Road in the 1890's and demolished in 1899 when it proved to be too small for the numbers attending.
If the size of religious establishments in the area are an indication of wealth, then this area must have been an extremely affluent one.
Along Porthkerry Road to the junction of Princes Street, on the triangle formed, is the Princes Street Evangelical Church, built on the site of another Tin Church.
Further up the road is the former Reading Rooms which is next to the "Chicken Wood" with its steps leading to Jenner Road and Romilly Schools.
At the junction of Porthkerry Road, set in the wall of No. 1 Wenvoe Terrace is a Bathstone plaque with its former name, "Sea View Crescent".
Continuing along Porthkerry Road there is a small church, "The Church of God in Barry" built unobtrusively in the row of houses. This was the way that many Churches and Chapels were built in the early 1900's.
Near the end of the road is an entrance to a set of steps leading down to a tunnel under No. 36 Princes Street. This tunnel was very handy for courting couples, as the light always seemed to be out most nights! The tunnel was built because the developers were unable to close the access to Porthkerry Road from East Street.
Emerging out of the tunnel you enter Princes Street in which Mr. Walker, the main contractor for the building of Barry Docks, opened a small hospital to enable his workers to be treated for any injuries sustained whilst engaged in the construction of the docks. Down East Street into Queen Street, No. 57 was the first school in Barry Town, and this was also established by Mr. T. A. Walker.
Walk back along Queen Street to Market Street and turn into High Street. The buildings in High Street are of a mixed style, some look as though the builders visited foreign parts before coming to Barry - the tops of some of these buildings are very ornate. Harmony Furnishings to Borough Arms have decorative Bathstone set in them and are crowned by carved Bathstone tops. The top of part of Horatio's has a totally different style. As you walk further up the street, building styles change as a result of different builders taking up the ground leases.
On the opposite side of the street is Hyper-Value, which was built as a Mission Hall by Mr. Walker for the use of his workmen. On its closure it was used as a Public Meeting Hall, later to be sold and re-opened as Bethesda Chapel.
Back along High Street towards Trinity Street, the building that now houses the Buddist Centre was once Penuel C.M. Church.
On the corner of Trinity Street is Trinity Presbyterian Church, opened in 189. The small hall alongside was opened for worship in 1889 and is used as Barry Male Voice Choir's H.Q.
Trinity Street was another street named after a Church. The Church's name was changed in the 60's to Holy Trinity Church when Bethel Church, Court Road closed and its members amalgamated with Trinity. St. Paul's Avenue, renamed after St. Paul's Church that opened in 1893, was formerly Nesta Street, and named after the family of Mr. Robert Forrest, who was the Earl of Plymouth's agent. The newer houses built near the junction of Trinity Street and St. Paul's Avenue are on the site of the former Coop's garages.
High Street Schools opened in 1888 but the boys' school opened in 1906. On its roof is the former bell tower that has been partially demolished, but most of the decorative chimney pots are still in place.
A short walk along St. Paul's Avenue brings you to Llandinam Road, named after Lord Llandinam (a Grandson of David Davies, who was instrumental in the building of Barry Docks).
The next large building is the Memorial Hall, opened in 1932 and partially destroyed by fire in 1943. After being left open to the elements for 15 years, whilst various councils dithered whether to risk a public outcry and demolish it, or to repair it, it was finally repaired and re-opened in 1957. The annexe built as another entrance was opened in 1966. The Barry Town Council moved from Woodlands Road / Tynewydd Road offices and are now established in a purpose built set of offices there.
This ends your walk.
© T.CLEMETT 2001