Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Save the Old Roath Steam Laundry Building - In Memory of Betty!

This is the "old laundry" in Roath, Cardiff along Marlborough Road. There is a campaign to stop this beautiful building being torn down for new housing, and to turn it instead into a community resource, saving the building and giving a valuable centre for everyone in Roath and Penylan.

If you want more info contact the people who put the leaflet out - details on their poster pictured below.

You'll be surprised to hear I wasn't around in 1898 when the "Roath Sanitary Steam Laundry" was opened, despite some rumours to the contrary.

No, you see as a cute, adorable and cherubic child in the halcyon days of the 1970s, despite strikes, the four minute warning, the three-day week etc. etc., I had not a care in the world beyond what was for tea, collecting Panini football stickers, playing with toy soldiers at home and what we would play at dinner time in school.

The walk to school was a short one, and there en route was the old laundry, better known to us at the time as Marlborough Carpets - for it was they who occupied it at the time (they later decamped to Penarth Road).

The front of the old laundry had two gates, allowing vehicular callers to pull in via one and drive out through the second, if they were dropping off or picking up via the front doors. All very 'Downton Abbey' so far.

They also took to parking their fork lift truck outside the front of the shop, and what else could guarantee the attention of boys walking home from school than a fork lift truck? It speaks of adventure, of dreams-fulfilled, of industrial hijinks. Think Biggles - but scuttling around a fore-court, rather than over the skies of Flanders.

Thus it was, as a dare if I recall right, certain little legs scuttled over to the fork-lift truck. Then a school chum took to pressing the up/down button, and the fork lift kicked into life and whizzed and whirred loudly. As you can imagine this shocked everyone, and little legs scurried away as fast as they could.

Still, we weren't discovered and the fork lift remained in situ in the days ahead, and so it became a dare to get over to the fork lift as quietly as possible, push the button for a split second, and then get out of there immediately before being discovered.

Oh the naughtiness of it all. It all stopped ingloriously when Old Ma Hurley asked who had been doing such naughty things. Oh oh. It seems Betty the Crossing Lady had, from the side of the old laundry, through the railings, witnessed the little people up to their split-second adventures and naughtiness.

Old Ma Hurley's spies throughout the community had struck once again!

So if not for me as a naughty herbert pottering home from school, if not for Old Ma Hurley, if not for the fork lift truck, then vote to save the Old Roath Steam Laundry building for the memory of Betty the Crossing Lady (RIP).

Campaign Launched
Sign the Petition


  1. I totally agree, a lovely building with so much character and history........ SAVE OUR LAUNDRY BUILDING.

  2. An interesting read. We actually occupied the side building part for many years as the Pine Warehouse and the " yard" became part of my life for over 10 years. It did us so proud as we entered the building with a 2k a week turnover and left with a 35k a week turnover as the " yard" became famous locally for pine furniture! Called down yesterday to see the old girl has been knocked down - such a shame but she was looking very worn.


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