At the end of the 19th Century, William Symonds, a Cardiff builder since 1880 and a member of Cardiff Council 1882-1889, built 17 Romilly Road, a fine Edwardian Red Brick detached house as his own family residence.
It remained a private home until 1937 when the last occupants, a Mr Harold Haslam and his family vacated the property.
John James Jackson; Early Ideas
John James Jackson (1864-1943), the first Director of Education (1940) of the Cardiff City Education Committee, lived for a time in the 1920's at 17 Romilly Road. He recommended that the city buy a building in Westgate Street and create an 'After Care' service for many unemployed boys and girls in the city. It became known as Jackson Hall, then went on to be Jackson's night club and now serves as a merchandise store for the Welsh Rugby Union.
During the economic depression of the 1930's, Cardiff experienced a high increase in the number of unemployed young people. Only 25% went to Grammar Schools and consequently there were many poorly educated, unqualified and unemployed 14 year old adolescents in the City at the time.
In 1938, as part of a series of measures to resolve this problem, the Cardiff City Juvenille Employment Committee purchased the lease on 17 Romilly Road in order to convert it into a Juvenile Employment Instruction Centre for Girls - They had until this time, been housed with the boys in Jackson Hall.
What's in a Name?
Names for the new centre were considered by the committee on 17 March 1938. The Director of Education submitted the names of several noted ladies in Welsh History directly concerned with Welsh Culture. 'The Lady Llanover Hall' was proposed and the chairman of the Committee was asked to approach the trustees of the Llanover Estate to ask permission to use this name.
A Temporary School
From 1941, The Hall was used to accommodate pupils displaced by the partial bombing of Canton High School. This use continued until the early 1960's when Cantonian High School was opened in Fairwater.
In the mid 1960's, Alun Higgins, a Youth Worker employed by the Local Education Authority, developed the idea of a 'Modern Art Workshop' for young people and in 1966 they used Jackson Hall Westgate Street as a base.
The following year, the Authority sold the building and the group found themselves homeless.
In 1967 they were offered rooms in another building the College of Food Technology in Crwys Road. A new modern art workshop was set up.
Again, without warning, the building was sold for storage to a supermarket. Group members staged a demonstration at City Hall in protest at the closing down of their facility.
In 1968 they were offered LLanover Hall as a base and a year was spent in the repair, painting and refurbishment of the centre in preparation for 'it's new use'.
In 1969 Llanover Hall began the Centre’s new arts activities. The aim was ‘to provide young people with the opportunity to pursue their interests in the arts’. In 1978 the Centre was made available to all ages and abilities and Tony Goble was appointed artist in residence.
In 1993 the Centre was faced with closure and following several public demonstrations and the formulation of a Charitable Company, Llanover Hall Community Arts Limited, a grant of £50,000 was given by the Foundation of Sports and Arts. The grant was used to fund the expansion of the Centre.
In 1998 following the confirmation by Cardiff City Council that the Centre would continue for the next 25 years, an Arts Council Grant of £398.000 was provided for construction and refurbishment. Subsequently another £41,000 was given to provide an Outreach Service to involve schools and so that the tutors could take up placements in colleges, schools and community centres.
Since the opening of the new building in 2000 the centre has run exciting
courses in pottery, art, crafts, printmaking, textiles, computer arts and photography, dance, drama and music. Young people and adults have been able to start and develop their creativity. Under new management recently the centre has been inproved, new classes are being developed and work with schools and other creative partners is bringing new learners into the centre. The Trustees of Llanover Hall Community Arts Charity hope that this web-site will provide the public – young and old -with the access and encouragement that they need to take advantage of the opportunities the Centre provides. We will continue to provide ‘An Open Door to Arts for All’.