As part of the itinerary of events and activities to commemorate and celebrate the Cardiff and County Club’s 150th anniversary, renowned scholar and author Andrew Hignell and Cardiff-based publishers, Welsh Academic Press, are honoured and delighted to be working in co-operation with the Club, to publish Always Amongst Friends - The Cardiff and County Club 1866-2016.
This lavishly illustrated book will explore the history of the Cardiff and County Club, from its formation during the mid-1860s by a group of prominent people in the life of Cardiff and key members of the local gentry, within the social, economic, political and sporting context of the burgeoning Victorian coal metropolis that developed into the dynamic Welsh capital of today.
The Club’s founders were led by local solicitor Henry Heard who, like thousands of others, had moved to Cardiff to work in the rapidly expanding town. As the trade of the docks, businesses and shops all flourished, the men of influence, high social standing and growing wealth were looking for somewhere to gather, relax, dine and socialise with their friends and acquaintances. The initial Club was created in 1866 within the Royal Hotel, before separate premises were established alongside. By the late Victorian era, there was the need for a new and larger building, and through a close association with the Bute Estate, the current clubhouse was constructed.
Over the years, the Club’s membership has been drawn from every walk of life of Cardiff, with some of the most well-known families of south Wales being members for many years and over several generations.
However, the book will not only trace the formal history of the Club and its leading members, but will also celebrate of the social aspects of the Club, its rich camaraderie and colourful characters, plus the staff who have been the lifeblood of the Club and have maintained the high standards established by Heard and the Founder Members.
Indeed, it has been behind the red bricks and mahogany door that the core values of sociability and kinship, plus good food and fine wine, still remain with men representing every facet of life in Cardiff and its surrounding area enjoying the benefits of belonging to Wales’ leading private members’ club. Over the years, a number of balls and other social events organised through the Club have allowed its members and their spouses to mingle and unwind in a convivial atmosphere.
Over the years, the talk of Club members has been about a number of country sports, especially horse-racing with the members in the 1880s and 1890s riding in an annual steeplechase. A polo club was created soon afterwards, as well as an annual golf tournament, with members also enjoying flying and motoring in the inter-war era. The proximity to the Arms Park has also allowed members to gather on the balconies of the Clubhouse to watch Wales’ rugby internationals, besides events in the Empire Games of 1958.
Andrew Hignell’s extensive research and highly readable narrative also outlines the changes within the fabric, structure and membership of the Club, including the disappearance of the garden at the rear, the establishment of a car park, the introduction of modern technology and catering equipment, as well as, from November 2014, of women members.