Casgliad arbennig o bron i 200 o ddarluniau du-a-gwyn, ynghyd â nodiadau perthnasol yn portreadu amryfal agweddau ar fywyd, gwaith a hamdden trigolion Canton, ac yn cyflwyno golwg atgofus ar y newidiadau a fu yn adeiladwaith yr ardal, 1850au-1960.
A fascinating collection of nearly 200 black-and-white photographs , together with relevant notes portraying various aspects of the life, work and leisure of the inhabitants of Canton, and presenting a reminiscent look at the changing face of the area, 1850s-1960.
It has been said that Cardiff, outside the magnificent civic centre, is not so much a city as a collection of villages, in which the residents live, work and play without much awareness of the next district and to which they give their first loyalty. Each has its own shops, its library, its places of worship, its schools, its playing fields, so that except on special occasions there is not much need to venture further afield.
That is less true than it was, but a photographic study such as the one compiled by Bryan Jones (first published in 1995) suggests how it might have been when the suburbs were in their early years. Like Cathays, Canton (Welsh: Treganna) has an exotic name, but in fact it grew in typical fashion as a place of residence for the workers and small commercial class who started to emerge as the town established itself as one of the largest in south Wales.
The book is arranged chronologically, so that we get a good sense of the various stages in its development from about 1875 to the present. For those not familiar with the district, it lies roughly between Llandaf cathedral and Leckwith Common, with Cowbridge Road running through it like a spine.
All aspects of life in Canton are represented, from the low life of the back streets to the more glamorous occasions when local dignitaries dressed up in their robes and furs to meet famous visitors. One occasion of the latter kind was when Margaret Lockwood, then at the height of her film career, attended the annual dinner of the Canton Male Voice Choir.
Many local characters are given their page of fame, including Billy the Seal, who was found in a crate on board a ship in Cardiff Docks and who lived for many years in the lake at Victoria Park. He died in 1939 but stories are still told about his exploits, not the least being the discovery that Billy was, in fact, female.
Another striking plate shows Buffalo Bill, in full Indian warpaint, crossing the bridge into Canton at the turn of the last century. New to me was the fact that General Gordon, the hero of Khartoum, lived for many years in Romilly Crescent. There is also a portrait of David Davies, later to achieve fame as the heart-throb Ivor Novello, and his Mam in all her operatic finery; a blue plaque marks his birth-place in Cowbridge Road.
This book will appeal most to people born or brought up in Canton but as a study of a suburb it will provide historians with a great deal of detailed information that can hardly be conveyed in words.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.