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'Jammed' city docks area lost to pages of history by demolition.

SIXTY years ago in 1956 the area of Cardiff known as Newtown became the subject of a compulsory purchase order.

The houses were later demolished and the residents re-housed to various parts of the city.

Gareth Harris in his book Jim Driscoll - The Peerless One (Coalopolis Publishing, PS12.99) first published in 2000, gives us a good insight into the docks area known as Newtown.

We learn that the district consisted of six streets namely Pendoylan Street, Roland Street, North William Street, Rosemary Street, Pendoylan Place and Ellen Street.

Some 200 houses "jammed, insanitarily, back to back, in the sliver of ground between the main railway line and the docks. A warren of bedrooms used in relays above cramped, overoccupied parlours and damp, unventilated kitchens that were home to more than a thousand desperate immigrants'.'.

The area became known as Irishtown and in its early days had five pubs and two churches.

With regard to the many fights Driscoll had, the author takes us back in time by way of newspaper accounts and these include those from the South Wales Echo and sister paper the Western Mail.

Gareth, who has also written biographies of Freddie Welsh and Jimmy Wilde, is also the author of Taff Vale Park - Memories Lost in Time and a number of other non-sporting books.

When I left school, some 65 years ago now, my uncle Jimmy Donovan, who was in charge of the boiler room, got me a job at Guest Keen and Nettlefolds Steel Works not that far from where Driscoll was born.

I still have my first pay packet for the week ending 8-9-1951 and after deductions of three shillings and threepence, I took home the grand sum of two pounds one shilling and fourpence. I worked in the instrument department and my boss was Horace Jenkins whose mother kept a herbalist shop in Bridge Street.

Every couple of days or so, Mr Jenkins, who I was to learn had been a school pal of my father, used to get me to put a jug of water in the radiator of his car. I cannot remember the make of it but the licence plate number was CUH 624.

As well as running errands for the instrument mechanics, I had to go around the factory changing the charts of the instruments and filling the various pen holders with either red or green ink. Honeywell Brown and Clark instruments come to mind.

I can still remember some of the names of the instrument mechanics and their assistants - Joe Davies, Jim Summerhayes, who lived in Rumney, Gerry Kennedy who lived in Wells Street, Canton, a ginger-headed RAF type called Doug, a rather short, plump man whose name I believe was Alf, a lanky chap named Maurice and another chap named Vic Coates who I think also lived in Rumney.

And, if my memory serves me right, our workshop was moved to a brand new building near the cooling tower and close to the office of Mr Pople the works manager.

Another of my jobs was to buy the morning papers for the instrument mechanics and three newspapers that I remember were the now long-gone Daily Herald, Daily Sketch and News Chronicle.

Templegate was the racing tipster of the Daily Herald and his selected three horses - Templegate's Treble - had a big following with punters. There being no betting shops back then. The factory had a bookie's runner who would take bets written on the back of cigarette packets and other odd scraps of paper.

Punters put their non-de-plumes on the bets such as Leo or Blackie. They couldn't put their real names on the betting slips in case the bookie's runner got caught by the police. A favourite bet back then was a 1X2 and a double. Stake three shillings.

A shilling (5p) would go on horse A and if it won, two shillings (10p) out of the winnings would go on horse B and vice versa.

Plus, if both horses won, one would have a shilling (5p) double up as well.

I remember being sent on an Adjustment to Industry course at San Pierre, Chepstow, which is now a well-known golf club.

We stayed in this mansion for four days but I cannot remember what we did there apart from play records, one of which was called Oh How Love He Cooks The Meat which I have never heard since. I was later given a mechanical test to see if I had what it took to become an apprentice but I failed miserably.

Cardiff soccer fans will enjoy The Welsh Football Quiz Book by Cardiffborn David Collins, published by yLolfa at PS3.99. A lifelong supporter of the Wales football team, he has written extensively on Welsh football down the years and regularly appears in the media sharing his hopes and dreams Here is one of the questions: Twenty-three goals in 38 international appearances is the impressive record of this star in the 40s and 50s, but after leaving Cardiff City in 1955 to join PSV Eindhoven, he was banned sine die by the Football League for revelations about his spell at Sunderland. Who was that then? Another book of interest to soccer fans is The Dragon Roars Again - Wales Journey To Europe 2016 by Jamie Thomas and also published by y Lolfa at PS9.99.

Roger Speed has described the book as "a superbly researched book, full of in-depth information on Wales' return to the pinnacle of football from the people who made it possible. An incredible story, very well told.'' Children play in the street at Newtown, Cardiff in March 1956 Newtown, Cardiff, in December 1964
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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