Jonathan Billups

Jonathan Edwin Billups was born on 21 September 1827, in Charteris, Cambridgeshire. His widowed mother used to send him into the fields to earn 4½ pennies a day, to help support them.

He came to Cardiff, via Llanelly, in 1856-7, and soon became the principal contractor for the Taff Railway Company. He founded the Llandough brickworks on Penarth Road (later, Billups Brick Co. Ltd), was proprietor of the Cambrian Engine Works at West Bute Dock, and undertook large contracts building railways in Sweden.

He also built the Dowlais ironworks, East Moors, Cardiff, and the dry dock for the Bute Shipbuilding Company. He was described as a man of great energy and considerable force of character, yet in his entire career avoided labour disputes with his workers.

His wife, Susannah Coutts Billups, came from Deptford, Kent. She was two years younger than her husband, predeceasing him in 1883. From before 1861 until 1872 they lived at Cadiz House, Halswell Terrace, Newport Road, Cardiff, with their two daughters, Mary (17) and Susannah (11), and Emma Hutchings, a 13-year-old servant from Taunton. He later built a fine Victorian house at 28, The Parade, in the centre of Cardiff.

Jonathan Billups was completely trustworthy in his dealings, and trusted others to act likewise. Some proved false, which reduced his fortune but did not lessen his generous nature.

He was a member of the Charles Street Congregational Church in Cardiff, which opened 5 July 1855, and merged with the Wood Street Chapel in 1971 and with Windsor Place Presbyterian Church in 1976.


His grave memorial is Number 3 on the Cathays Cemetery Heritage Trail.

Cathays Cemetery Heritage Trail