Cardiff Incorporated Chamber of Commerce Records

Scope and Content

The richness of the collection lies in the breadth of its collection base. It encompasses the accumulated records of a large number of local trade associations and companies, some of which Cardiff Chamber of Commerce provided secretarial duties for. It provides a significant picture of commercial life in Cardiff and the associated development of the shipping and coal industries

Administrative / Biographical History

The Cardiff Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1866 to discuss any questions directly connected with commerce or manufacturing, and to promote measures designed to benefit the mercantile and trade interests of Wales, particularly those of the port of Cardiff and surrounding areas. It was a voluntary organisation, financed by an annual subscription paid by its members. Members represented a cross section of the industrial, commercial and professional community established in the area of Cardiff. It was incorporated in 1880, becoming the Cardiff Incorporated Chamber of Commerce. In 1886 the Chamber moved into new premises at the Coal Exchange

The policy of the chamber was directed by a Council which was elected annually, consisting of a president, two vice-presidents, past presidents, and twelve members with the Chairman of Committees and the principal trade associations in the area. In 1944 the first president not directly connected with coal or shipping was elected - Sir Robert Webber who was managing director of the Western Mail and Echo. Other past presidents include Sir Herbert Henry Merrett (1935-36) and Emlyn-Jones (who was also elected as chairman of the Cardiff and Bristol Channel Shipowners' Association in 1931)

The chamber changed its name in 1975 to The Cardiff Chamber of Commerce, Trade and Industry, before later being renamed Cardiff Chamber of Commerce. It moved to offices in Cardiff city centre in 2001 and went into liquidation in 2008

Three generations of the Hawkins family provided secretarial services to the Chamber. Willoughby R Hawkins was born in Cardiff in 1860. He worked as a telegraphic clerk with the Dowlais Iron Company before joining his father as assistant secretary to the Chamber in 1883. When his father died in 1893 Willoughby became secretary. He was also an honorary joint secretary of the South Wales Coal Shipment Advisory Committee and a member of the committee of the Hamadryad Seaman’s hospital. In his younger days he was a prominent athlete. He retired from the secretaryship of the Chamber and the Cardiff and Bristol Channel Shipowners Association at the end of 1931, although he remained available in a consultative and advisory capacity. He was also secretary for the Cardiff Shipping Federation, the Coal Exporters Association and the Pitwood Importers Association

Vernon Willoughby Hawkins succeeded his father Willoughby on his resignation. He was educated at Cardiff High School with intentions to study medicine, but gave up his studies to work with his father at the docks. In 1923 he was commissioned in the 53rd Welsh Divisional Signals (TA) in 1923 and later commanded a unit in that regiment. During the 1940s his assistant secretary took over his duties, whist the War took him away from his day job. He remained secretary of the Chamber and the Shipowner’s Association until 1970


The collection has been arranged in sub-fonds according to the provenance of the material i.e which member organisation created it. The first half of the collection mainly consists of papers from member organisations whose secretarial services were provided by the Chamber of Commerce (DCOMC/1-12). The second half of the collection is made up of the papers of Joseph Davies, the organisations for which he was secretary, and papers concerning his other interests (DCOMC/13-26). Also includes news cuttings books; maps and plans; photographs and miscellaneous items whose particular provenance could not be identified.

Access Information

Some records may be subject to access restrictions under the Data Protection Act

Acquisition Information

Original accession by C F Winchley, then secretary of the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce on 23 Sep 1971, additional accessions recieved in 1990,1996 and 2000.


Compiled by Hayden Burns for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Catalogue of records for the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce; Cardiff Chamber of Commerce website (, viewed 18 December 2003.

Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available at Glamorgan Archives.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Good condition

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Stacy Capner, with reference to Jenkins, David. 'Shipowners of Cardiff. A class by themselves' (1997). This catalogue was produced with support from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives and from Welsh Assembly Government as part of the Archives and Records Council Wales cataloguing project, 'Powering the World: Looking at Welsh Industry through Archives'.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal Glamorgan Record Office conditions apply.

Normal Glamorgan Archives conditions apply.

Appraisal Information

Duplicates, mainly consisting of circulars, have been removed. All other records have been retained


Accruals are not expected.

Geographical Names