Growing up in Cardiff
Did you live in Cardiff, S. Wales, during the 1970s?
A nostalgic look back at the things that made up my life when I was growing up in Cardiff.
School, food, leisure time and teenage infatuations... those were the days. Part of me misses them and part of me is glad they are gone forever!
I'd love to hear your memories of Cardiff - you don't have to be a member of Squidoo to leave a comment.
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Cardiff Trolley Bus Photos by DJ Norton.
Dancing to Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep in Llanrumney Youth Club Thursday night disco. Wearing velvet dresses and crinkly "wet-look" boots with low, flared heels.
Refreshment consisted of frozen (or sometimes not) raspberry tip-tops. Other favourite dance-tunes were "Ride A White Swan", "Montego Bay", "In the Summertime" and "Spirit in the Sky". They were played over and over and over.
Later we progressed to Top Rank, Motown and half-pints of cider in plastic glasses. Being tapped on the shoulder... result! Illicit drinking in the Lighthouse at St Brides when we were only 14. Is it still there? Carpenter's Arms. Learning to smoke at 13 outside the Ton Stores in St Mellons (it never worked for me).
The Lighthouse public house at St Brides, Wentloog. Photo courtesy of Chris Downer
Trolley buses. When we first moved to Canton from the West Country these weird modes of transportation fascinated me. It was great when their antennae came off the wires and all the traffic came to a standstill.
Proper roller skates. You slipped your shod foot into them and adjusted them by a wing-nut on the bottom. And we’d share them with our best mate. One each – not easy. Whizzing down the hill in Thompson’s Park. Chopper bikes – fantastic! My bike was a Moulton Mini – horrible thing.
Later boys with motor-bikes – the smell of two-stroke and leather. Watching out for boyfriend’s bike coming along Ball Road an hour late, as usual.
Chips made by your mother. Real potatoes cooked in reheated lard or beef dripping (they were the best). Later it became fashionable to use Spry Crisp & Dry.
Other favoured foods were Supermousse, instant mash, Findus Crispy Pancakes and Birds Eye burgers. Sunday dinner, no vegetables. We never got fat.
Later the Curry Centre in Riverside - I'll never forget my first chicken and mushroom biriani.
Sweets: Walnut Whips with 'inside' walnuts, Aztec bars and Sherbert-dip (the lolly sort, not the liquorice, please). Mum worked in The Lollipop Shop in Cowbridge Road for a while - chocolate coated coconut-ice; heaven. "Apple-pies" and "pineapple chunks" - boiled sweets which would make your mouth bleed if you ate too many.
After we moved to Llanrumney she worked in Snak-Pak, bottom of Rumney Hill... remember the smell of roasting peanuts as you passed on the bus? She could buy 1lb bags of great big, sometimes still warm peanuts. I still never got fat.
Shortages - we loved 'em
Water shortages, electricity shortages, coal shortages and sugar shortages. As kids we loved the power-cuts and more especially, the water-cuts during the hot, hot summer of '76.
Maxi skirts and Crombie coats. Swishy skirts, clumpy shoes. "Diamond" brooches in the shapes of stars and crescent moons. Box handbags that could deliver quite a thump to an over amorous boyfriend.
Oxford bags and French cut trousers with turn-ups that flapped and whacked the opposite leg when you inadvertently got into synch with them. Boys wore Ben Sherman shirts and pretended they were school uniform. Girls rolled up their waistbands to get their skirts shorter.
White socks that slipped down to your ankles because the 'lastic had gone after three wearings. Navy knickers. Platforms. Wedges. Top Shop and Chelsea Girl were the height of sophistication. Borrowing clothes off your best friend cos hers were better. Temporarily stealing clothes from your best friend's older sister because they were even better (she had a Saturday job).
Being able to go where you liked. Just the odd warning to be careful and we used to roam all over the countryside. From 7.30am until darkness fell. Riding other people's ponies because they were the only ones we could afford. Morgies fields, throwing sticks for our dogs into the Rumney River. Rope swings. Snogging in the long grass. No M4; no Pentwyn then.
Spending four hours at a time in the Empire Pool. Saturday afternoons in the National Museum trying to find the rudest pictures and pretending not to look at the statues' twiddly bits.
Llanrumney High. Mitching (bunking) off school to go to friends' houses whose mothers were out at work all day. Eating tins of cold custard and watching toddlers' tv and the test card as that was what constituted daytime tv. Such a thrill walking out of school with an airy confidence. Teachers who were passionate about teaching. Teachers who scared you rigid with a look. Shiner - the best teacher in the world. Sitting "O" Levels with a rumbly stomach.
Swimming lessons in Guildford Crescent baths. They were Victorian but so clean and looked after. The instructors were dragon-ladies! Every day for weeks we would get on the bus and spend the morning swimming before being transported back to school for lunch. School attendance was always up during the swimming sessions.
My dog, Sandy, was allowed to sit in during Latin lessons. He didn't interrupt. After the lesson, I would just send him home and off he'd go up the hill.
Photo by John Thorn
Eating sandwich lunches out of greaseproof paper in the science room conservatory, a special treat conferred upon a lucky few. There was a special earthy, sun-baked smell in the unused conservatory. Empty wooden crates, discarded pots and tools, long countertops where we would park our backsides and eat cheese sarnies where the cheese was just starting to wilt deliciously. Gazing down through the glass walls at the unchosen ones in the playground beating each other up with leather satchels.
K-Tel records. All those compilations of pop songs but without the real pop stars singing them. Imitation Sweet, Slade, Donny Osmond and New Seekers - on my teeny mono record player that my mum bought me from the catalogue. Radio 1 on 247AM, finished at 7.30pm - quick switch it off before Radio 2 starts! DLT and Noel Edmunds when he was cool and gorgeous. Radio Luxembourg and Kid Jensen under the bedcovers. Later Genesis (before they got famous), Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield.
Mustn't forget Wizzard, David Essex, Lynsey de Paul, Wings, Queen and all the rest.
Take a look around Cardiff
Early 70s Victoria Park. Summers splashing in the paddling pool. Winters also around the paddling pool when the 'parkies' would turn on the fountains for a short while so the pool gained a coating of invisible ice so we could 'skate'.
Swimming lessons in Guildford Crescent baths - wonderful place. Walking up Ball Road Hill (the grassy part - see pic of school above) twice a day. Walking four miles to ride ponies, help with hay-making, sheep-shearing and fence-mending and then walking home again. Walking everywhere. We never got fat.
Photo courtesy of Ricky Cosmos.
Places Long Gone
The Empire Pool, Cardiff Arms Park, Prince of Wales Theatre (good that it's gone!), Woolworths, Mackross, Pig and Whistle, Capitol Cinema, Guildford Crescent baths and Top Rank to name a few.
Thanks to Diawl Bach for the memories. There are lots more. Leave a comment with your suggestions...
Photo showing the massive redevelopment of Cardiff Bay, courtesy of nicksarebi under the Creative Commons license.
Cardiff nightlife in the 1970s/early 80s
Were you there... do you actually remember any of it?
By no means is this list complete - feel free to suggest more in the comments section.
The Wine Press
Pig & Whistle
The Beer Keller