Restoring the Legacy: Bartley Wilson’s Marble Headstone

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Marble headstone before and after cleaning belonging to Cardiff City founder Bartley Wilson at Western Cemetery

Cleaning & Restoring Bartley Wilson’s Marble Headstone

We at Mossfords were recently honoured to undertake the delicate task of cleaning and restoring the stunning marble headstone belonging to an esteemed figure deeply ingrained in Cardiff’s history.

Walter Bartley Wilson, founder of Cardiff City Football Club and affectionately remembered as “Bartley Wilson”, holds a special place in the hearts of so many Cardiffians, and preserving his legacy is a responsibility we hold with utmost reverence.

Below, we will share a little about the life of Bartley before recounting the delicate yet transformative process undertaken by our team of specialist memorial restorers to revive his marble headstone.

As custodians of heritage and champions of memory, we take immense pride in sharing this narrative of preservation and honour.

Watch: Cleaning the Headstone for Bartley Wilson, Founder of Cardiff City FC

Honouring a Cardiff Icon

Within Cardiff’s vibrant history, Bartley Wilson’s influence stands as a testament to his enduring legacy.

Born on January 3, 1870, in Bristol, England, Wilson’s path brought him to Cardiff, where his dedication to sports and community sparked a legacy that continues to reverberate throughout the city to this very day.

As both a lithographic artist by trade and a visionary by passion, Wilson left an indelible mark on Cardiff’s sporting identity, unmatched by any other.

Bartley Wilson founder of Cardiff City FC

Bartley Wilson, founder of Cardiff City FC circa. 1910

From Humble Beginnings to Sporting Legend 

Bartley’s arrival in Cardiff in 1897 marked the genesis of a remarkable sporting tale.

Once settled, his interest in cricket saw him soon naturally immersed in the local cricket scene with the local Riverside Cricket Club – but he and the club’s officials were concerned that the team may become separated during the wintery off-season.

Recognising the rise of professional association football that was spreading across the UK, Bartley had an inkling that the introduction of another sport could be the answer.

So, armed with determination and a sense of purpose, Bartley spearheaded the formation of Riverside A.F.C. in 1899, laying the foundation for what would eventually evolve into Cardiff City F.C. – a club he remained involved with for over five decades until just a few months before his passing in 1954.

Riverside A.F.C. kit worn between 1899 and 1908

Riverside A.F.C – 1899-1908

Cardiff City home kit worn between 1914 and 1919

Cardiff City – 1914-1919

Cardiff City home kit worn between 1939 and 1947

Cardiff City – 1939-1947

Cardiff City home kit worn between 1950 and 1954

Cardiff City – 1950-1954

Copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission.

A Visionary’s Path to Professionalism

Bartley’s leadership propelled Riverside A.F.C. from the grassroots to professional ranks.

In 1908, the FA of Wales granted Bartley and the rest of the committee permission to change the name of the club to Cardiff City.

By 1910, under his guidance, Cardiff City became a fully professional football club, joining the then Southern League Second Division, rising to the First Division two years later.

His foresight was equally evident in securing a home ground, which became the iconic Ninian Park, forever woven into Cardiff’s sporting fabric.

Crowd at Ninian Park in 1910 for football match Cardiff City versus Swindon

Spectators sit pitch side during a match versus Swindon in 1910

Aerial view of Ninian Park in 1953 as 58,000 fans attend

Ninian Park, 1953 – 58,000 fans attend a match versus Arsenal

Preserving a Storied Legacy

Today, as custodians of history and guardians of memory, Mossfords stands proud to have played a key part in restoring and preserving Bartley Wilson’s legacy.

With meticulous care and unwavering dedication, our specialist memorial restorers embarked on the delicate task of restoring his marble headstone.

Utilising advanced techniques and state-of-the-art equipment – including specialist, low-pressure, high-temperature steam-cleaning followed by careful agitation of surface debris using hand-held soft bristle brushes – our team diligently removed thick layers of dirt and biological growth that had accumulated on the marble surface over time.

Through this expert memorial restoration process, we uncovered the stone’s timeless beauty, revealing a pristine tribute to Bartley’s enduring spirit that will stand the test of time.

Bartley Wilson's marble headstone being steam-cleaned in Western Cemetery in Cardiff
Gently scrubbing clean marble headstone of Cardiff City FC founder Bartley Wilson at Western Cemetery in Cardiff
Top of marble headstone belonging to Cardiff City FC founder Bartley Wilson after cleaning
Close up of Bartley Wilson's marble headstone being steam-cleaned in Cardiff's Western Cemetery
Steam cleaning Bartley Wilson's marble headstone at Western Cemetery in Cardiff
Marble headstone honouring Cardiff City FC founder Bartley Wilson after professional memorial cleaning by Mossfords at Western Cemetery in Cardiff

– Understanding the Importance of Keeping Marble Memorials Clean

Over time, marble surfaces, including headstones, can attract dirt, air-borne pollutants, lichen, algae, and other forms of organic growth due to their porous nature.

As a natural limestone, marble contains tiny pores and fissures that can trap dirt particles and provide a breeding ground for these biological growths.

Additionally, environmental factors such as pollution, bird droppings, and exposure to moisture can contribute to the accumulation of dirt and grime on marble surfaces.

It’s essential to keep marble clean to preserve its appearance and integrity, as prolonged exposure to dirt and biological growths can cause staining, discoloration, and even structural damage over time.

Regular cleaning, maintenance, and general memorial aftercare not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of marble but also help prolong its lifespan, ensuring that it continues to serve as a beautiful and dignified memorial for years to come.

Memorial aftercare in Cardiff

A Testament to Community & Heritage

Bartley’s significance transcends the realm of sports; he embodies the spirit of Cardiff itself.

His unwavering commitment to his community, coupled with his pioneering vision, continues to inspire generations.

As Bartley Wilson’s headstone stands restored, it symbolises not just his legacy but also the resilience and pride of Cardiff.

Honouring the Past, Crafting the Future

At Mossfords, we recognise the profound responsibility entrusted to us. Beyond the restoration of marble, granite and other stone memorials, we embrace the privilege of honouring lives and legacies.

Contact us today by calling 0800 093 83 77, emailing info@mossfords.com or by completing our online enquiry form to explore and learn more about our range of memorial services.

Together, let us celebrate the stories that shape our history and the memories that bind us as a community.

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