Last owned by Cardiff County Council, Suffolk House is a property steeped with emotional history for many children. In 2006, it came to light that the Local Authority had paid more than £3million in compensation to sexual abuse victims that had been abused whilst in the care of the state. Many of these had been housed at this prime location.
Built in 1865, Suffolk House was built by Benjamin Wright as a wedding present for his daughter.
Suffolk House comprises of a three storey villa with a classical porch and decorative bays. There is also a two story annex to the rear which is in turn linked by an extension to a further two storey building located within the centre of the site.
The building is designated a Locally Listed Building by Cardiff County Council and is located within the Conway Road Conservation Area.
Suffolk House is located just a few minutes from Cardiff City Centre and is considered as “prime real estate” so we weren’t surprised that the property would be snapped up quickly and plans approved to demolish the existing buildings.
Between 2015-2016 the average running cost of Suffolk House for Cardiff County Council was £55,000. There was an additional maintenance backlog cost of £215,600. This high maintenance cost was evident throughout our visit to Suffolk House with damp setting in, cracked ceilings, stained carpets and pealing paint.
We weren’t expecting very much from visiting Suffolk House but given it’s past use, we were keen to have a look around. When we arrived, windows had been smashed, doors screwed closed and past break-ins boarded up. A window however was left unlocked and we were in.
Walking around and we saw nothing but stripped rooms and corridors, signs of asbestos and metal thefts… we were disappointed. As we walked around though, it soon became clear that Cardiff Council hadn’t removed all the very personal and confidential information from this location. We were shocked to see court orders, photographs and social worker records just sitting there for anybody to pick up.
As we moved around Suffolk House, we were shocked with the stunning details throughout the building, the ceilings for example and the wood work around the staircases.
Reality of life then hit us. Opening a door that was slightly ajar, bottles and rubbish were on show. Shouting in “photographer”, we had no response. Opening the door a little more, a makeshift bed and duvets were on show. Again shouting “photographer” but getting no response. We don’t normally photograph the living areas of “squatters” but this time was different.
Illegal drugs, alcohol and even a knife was present. Feeling on edge a little, we took a few shots and left the room and locked the door as we left.
What shocked us was the writing on the walls…
There is no forgetting what Suffolk House was once used for though, walking around you read messages left from a person who says that “Social Services you took my family” and another message that said they took away the people that didn’t abuse them… their family. Considering the history of this building, that of confirmed child sexual abuse, it dawns upon us that this message could have been left by a victim of the abusive social worker.
Suffolk House has now been sold by Cardiff Council for £800,000 through auction and the future of this once grand, then turned horrid building seems to be one of demolition.
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