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Newport – John Prior-Morris

The Insoles of Llandaff (John Prior-Morris)

Our talk on 28th March was most unusual in that it was given by a gentleman dead over a hundred years- or, at least, by someone who lived the role so realistically that we felt we were listening to the real George Frederick Insole.

He told the story of how ‘his’ grandfather George Insole and father James Harvey Insole developed their business from an initial small coal mining affair to something which led to the development of Cardiff Docks and, when that was overwhelmed by trade, to the founding of docks at both Penarth and Barry, to the growth in use of the Taff Valley Railway and of the Glamorganshire Canal and to the supply to the Admiralty of Welsh coal for their new steam ships.

Such activities, of course, lead to great wealth which the Insole family used for building a mansion at Llandaff and to regularly upgrading to a magnificent dwelling called Ely Court, which rivalled anything built by their rival the Marquis of Bute.

When Insole line ended the Ely Court (now called Insole Court) was taken over by the Cardiff Corporation but then totally neglected. Eventually the Friends of Insole Court was formed to push for the renovation of Insole Court and its eventual opening to the public- John Prior-Morris being their Secretary.

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