08 February 2016

Cardiff: Up the garden path

In my last post Cardiff: Welcoming doors praising the beautiful entranceways of many of Cardiff’s old Edwardian and Victorian houses, I touched on the pavements or garden paths leading up to the front doors of these houses but only included one photograph. As their designs are so lovely, I thought I would share more images of these colourful geometric beauties.

Many of these tiles and designs originated from the factory of J. C. Edwards & Co of Ruabon, a town in North Wales famous for its clay and terracotta ware. Tessellated designs like these were a favourite of the Romans and, as well as the large pictorial mosaics the Romans are renowned for, their villas and palaces also contained corridors of more basic, geometric tessellated tiling. I can’t help but wonder if J. C. Edwards and his design team were influenced by such ancient buildings.

Of course, J. C. Edwards wasn’t the only tile designer and manufacturer working in the Victorian era, and Cardiff had its own highly esteemed companies making similar porch, floor and pavement tiles. One such was Gibbons, Hinton & Co of Brierley Hill, whose beautiful designs can be seen in many of Cardiff’s older suburbs, particularly in Maindy, north of Bute Park.

Even these curving black-and-white designs are works of art

Many of the garden path designs imitate the designs used for the flooring inside the magnificent old Victorian and Edwardian houses. Unfortunately, I can’t investigate those quite as easily as I can photograph people’s pathways but if you are interested in the interior tiles, or you have tiling that needs maintenance and restoration, the Building Conservation website has an excellent article about geometric and encaustic tiles.  

These paths have the same basic inner square pattern but the outer design has been adapted to fit the location

The designs of these beautiful pavements are highly adaptable and could easily be used as the template for a quilt, a tapestry or a rug. So, in order to share my images with fellow crafters and designers, I have uploaded them to a board on Pinterest, and I will continue to update that board as I find and photograph more of them. I would love to see what talented craftspeople are able to create using these timeless designs so please do contact me if you are inspired to produce something wonderful of your own.

Two different lengths of the same design