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A a 'been Tom used the from 2 as next some canal it is route until says "and "was 'Sweet shop Annie wore slippers with her stockings rolled down'.

A GLIMPSE into the long-lost world of a '50s Cardiff cottage sweet shop has been brought to life thanks to the reminiscences of a reader.

Regular Cardiff Remembered reader Tom Page has kindly provided me with information about Annie Phillips who used to sell sweets and lemonade to the children of Mynachdy and Gabalfa from her almost derelict cottage on the banks of the once famed Glamorganshire Canal.

Mr Page tells me that her property at 2 Mynachdy Lock Cottage, also known as Monachdy Lock Cottage, was found next to the Mynachdy Lock Gates some 130 yards east of the present canal bridge at Western Avenue. Today it is the site of Excelsior Road, the main route to Tesco Extra.

She lived there alone from 1953 until her death in 1962 and Mr Page says she was a woman of mystery.

He recalled: "The entrance to Annie's shop was via a narrow wooden footbridge that crossed a small stream.

"Outside her front door were two wooden benches where we would sit and eat our crisps and drink lemonade.

"Peering into the gloom of the cottage and old wooden display cabinet was visible stocked with jars of sweets, liquorice, arrow roots and other confectionery.

"As I recall, cigarettes were one old penny each."

Mr Page's family moved to Gabalfa when he was four years old.

He added: "As you ventured under the road bridge from Western Avenue from the Gabalfa housing estate, remnants of the canal were still visible and, as children, we played on what was left of the old wooden lock gates.

"On the opposite side of the lock stood the gable end of an old cottage wall and the foundation ruins of the building.

"Alongside this old gable end wall there were two flagstones standing erect.

"We were told that they were old gravestones but they were more likely to have been markers for the canal barges or even markers for pet graves."

Annie's nearest neighbour was old Billy Hill who lived in a tiny cottage behind Annie's in a little wooded copse. This was in an area known to Cardiffians as the Yankee Woods, apparently because this was where American soldiers took their girlfriends.

Remembering Annie, Mr Page said: "She always wore slippers, with her stockings rolled down to her ankles and she wore a pinafore over her dress.

"Annie had a gruff Welsh accent and the smell of cats inside the cottage was sometimes overpowering.

"We often took lemonade bottles back to her and obtained the odd penny or twopence in return."

She married William George Phillips - who had been born at 74 Severn Road in Canton - at Maindy Baptist Chapel in North Road in 1921, and her address given as Monarchty Lock was the same as her husband who was then aged 45.

Apparently, there wasn't any mains electricity or gas in their cottage and there was no lighting on the canal towpath, recalls Mr Page, who said her son Clarence Phillips would occasionally visit her.

"He appeared to be a tall thin man with horn-rimmed glasses. He often admonished us if we were noisy or truculent."

Some 25 miles long with 52 locks, the Glamorgan Canal flourished for more than a century and the PS103,600 cost of building was met by traders and Merthyr Tydfil's iron masters.

Ironically its success proved its undoing as owing to the increase in traffic there were long delays at many of the locks.

Steam tugs as barges were tried in a bid to speed things up but this proved unsuccessful and, by 1890, the canal was running at a loss.

However, it wasn't until 1942 that the last barge passed down it.

One old Cardiffian, now long gone, reminisced: "On the return journey along the route to Merthyr the barges were loaded with grain and flour which was stored in the canal company's warehouse, of which my father was manager, for local delivery.

"The night shift from the works would have a booze-up which would lead to arguments and a fight in the street.

"The fighters stripped to the waist, used bare fists and sometimes ended up in the canal!" | You can send your stories/pictures to Brian Lee, Cardiff Remembered, South Wales Echo, Six Park Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR or e-mail Please include your home telephone number.


Mr Page discovered that Annie died in Cardiff in 1962 and, although her death certificate recorded her age as 76, from his research he believes she may only have been 68 or 69.

Mill Lane in the city centre is almost impossible to recognise alongside the Glamorganshire Canal

Annie Phillips used to sell sweets from her derelict cottage on the banks of the Glamorganshire Canal
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 25, 2016
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