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Valleys Life

Passing of a local publishing legend

Cardifff-born Stewart Williams, who died on 13 January 2011, was most prominently known as the editor and publisher of the popular Cardiff Yesterday series.

His roots were in Ely, of which he was immensely proud. He maintained strong links with this area throughout his life, retaining membership of the Cardiff West End Social Club.

He spent his early years working for Cardiff City Council in the engineers department, during which time he met his wife, Betty, who died in April 2009, a loss from which he never truly recovered.

Stewart's publishing career began at a young age with the production of bootleg programmes for Cardiff City of which he was a lifelong supporter. He moved from Cardiff City Council to join the Western Welsh Bus Company as publicity officer. During this period, his part-time publishing career really took off. His Vale Series (1959-62) comprised four volumes dedicated to telling the history of Glamorgan through short, lively contributions from a range of authors led, in no small way, by Professor Glyn Daniel.

This was followed by 12 volumes of Glamorgan Historian and an advisory role in the publication of the Glamorgan County History. Although these titles attracted a widespread readership, Stewart's biggest legacy must be the legendary Cardiff series - 36 volumes containing some 7,500 old photographs of Cardiff - recording the life of the city and its people. The success of this project enabled Stewart to leave the Western Welsh and make publishing his sole career.

Operating from his home in Barry, it was a family affair, which meant Betty and their two children, Robert and Diane, turned their hands to all aspects from proofreading, to delivering copies of books, to individual subscribers. Stewart's other great love was jazz and he liked nothing more than to visit Ronnie Scott's or jam with Victor Parker in Bute Street's long gone Quebec pub.

Stewart's publishing activities spread beyond Cardiff and his pioneering books of places in old photographs included the Rhondda, Caerphilly, Ebbw Vale and Barry. Other projects included Grandmother Extraordinary, the life of Mary de la Beche Nicoll, and Vintage Buses & Trams in South Wales.

Stewart published over 100 books - a pretty remarkable legacy for a one-man band - and has left a unique and lasting record for anyone with an interest in the history of Cardiff and South Wales.

Stewart Williams
1925 - 2011


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