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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

Cardiff Yesterday by Stewart Williams

If you wander along the shelves of our Wales section at Stella Books in Tintern, one series of books will always stand out: the collection of Cardiff Yesterday volumes published by Stewart Williams.

The series comprises some 36 volumes, and includes over 7500 images. The initial volume was published in 1980 and the series went from strength to strength until the last volume was published in 2000. If you are not already familiar with this marvellous collection of volumes, one might best describe it as an indispensable pictorial treasury of life in the capital city of Wales during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Above: Cleves College outing c. 1931 (left), and the colourful 'Colonel' Charles Jarvis, a sandwich-board man
familiar to many in the 1930s & 1940s (right).

Each volume is packed with memorable black & white photographs depicting buildings, transport, street-scenes, sports clubs, orchestras & bands, and more. It provides a marvellous record for the inhabitants of Cardiff to see how their parents and grandparents lived, worked and relaxed in 'the city beautiful'. Keep a look-out for Volumes 19 & 27 – they are very rare and command quite high prices now!

Browsing through these volumes, one is instantly transported back in time – there are nostalgic reminisences of charabanc outings, striking images of local 'personalities', as well as the darker times when German air strikes of 1940-41 devastated parts of the city (for example, see the section 'Cardiff at War' in Volume 30). Stewart Williams had no shortage of material: the success of the volumes meant that many people supplied images which were incorporated into this tapestry of Cardiff life.

Above: Ladies of the Domestic Bazaar Company 1907, and a view of the James Street Swing Bridge 1943 (right)

Stewart Williams, who died in January 2011 aged 85, was one of the most successful publishers of books about the local area. In addition to Cardiff Yesterday, he also published the series The Glamorgan Historian, and three volumes of The Cardiff Book.

His collection of volumes about life in the capital of Wales forms a legacy that will keep alive half-forgotten places and people, and documents the changes that have taken place in the city – including the development of the docks area which has been described as one of the best examples of urban regeneration in Europe.

Why not take a look at our full selection of Cardiff Yesterday volumes?

Contributed by Tim

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