PROTESTERS took to the streets of Cardiff this afternoon to protest against plans to demolish the Splott University Settlement.
The proposed plans, put forward by property developer John Smart Ltd, will see the historic building replaced with 36 apartment block flats.
Campaigners had appealed for Cadw’s help but the building was refused listed status. Now a petition to save it has attracted the signatures of 2,300 people.
The building’s history can be traced back to 1895 when Tom Jones, later a cabinet minister in David Lloyd George and Ramsay MacDonald’s government, set up the university’s Fabian Society to support female trade unionists against sweated labour.
Another prominent figure connected with the building was Ronald Burrows, a close friend of Labour Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald, who played a key role in the decision to send allied troops to Salonika in 1915.
The building was designed by architect Robert Weir Schultz, and was used for social and educational purposes.
The university held meetings there on subjects such as the suffragette movement, and penny dinners for schoolchildren. It was also used for concerts by notable musicians.
Towards the end of the First World War the building was transformed into a hospital for shell-shocked soldiers returning from the front line.
The building is better known in the area as the first Catholic Grammar School in Wales.
Labour councillor Edward Stubbs addresses the crowd
Splott artist Glen Davidson, a resident of Cardiff for 40 years, said: “I feel very passionate about this building because Splott University was the start of the cultural sector in Cardiff.
“It was where people who were committed to bringing education to those who could not afford it went.
“We’ve got a city which is disappearing fast, the meaning of the city, our memories and those that went before us are carried through the city.
“If you knock places like this down, and you don’t keep any of the previous buildings, you lose that meaning, there is no relationship.”
Labour councillor for Splott Edward Stubbs opposes the plan for what he views as an important building.
“The first time I saw the building it really struck me, it is so beautiful,” he said.
“It’s also of significant historical importance. It’s not acceptable, we will be taking this to CADW tomorrow, we will be taking the petition to John Smart today to say stop this cultural and landscape vandalism.
“We will also be taking our argument to the planning committee tomorrow afternoon.”
Cardiff Council’s Planning Committee will meet on Wednsday at County Hall, Atlantic Wharf, to discuss the matter.