Cardiff History: inside Insole Court

Insole Court stories the Insole family throughout Victorian and Edwardian. The Insoles were colonists, coal shippers, mine-owners, rail workers and docks men during the three generations of Welsh Steam Coal’s power of world industry. The family reached the height of its success in the late 19th century, having gained large estates, central to which was their home, which survives in Llandaff, on the outskirts of Cardiff.

Image from Insolecourt.org

In Llandaff in 1856, James Insole started to build a modern family home. He then extended his house in the gothic revival architecture, inspired by William Burges’ work for the Marquis of Bute at Cardiff Castle. In the 1880s, he acquired the hallmark of gentrification by converting the farmland surrounding his gardens into a fine ornamental park.

Video by Dan Davies

In the height of Edwardian prosperity, between 1905 and 1909, James Insole’s son, George Frederick, doubled the house, but after the First World War, the Insole’s fortunes declined along with South Wales’ coal.

In 1932 Cardiff Corporation developed the estate to make way for Cardiff’s orbital road system, which is now Western Avenue. The ornamental park was sold for housing, and the roads got given the Insole names they carry today. The last of the family left in 1938.

During the Second World War, Insole Court was used for Air Raid Precautions, Head Qauters and housing the Royal Observer Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service.

Image from insolecourt.org

Since the second war, the court has housed the Traffic Police, council offices and self-contained flats for local authority employees on the first floor. Now the court is open to education classes and a public library. It’s also a community centre used for events and a popular wedding venue in the Summer.

The reopening of Insole Court in November 2008. Image from insolecourt.org.

Information and images from https://www.insolecourt.org/about/history

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