top of page

Kaltenbach of Cardiff

In May 2017 our Society received a kind donation from a relative of the Kaltenbach family. The donation is a wooden toolbox that had been hidden at the back of garage for many years.

The toolbox contains the working tools belonging to Arthur Kaltenbach. Due to the tools being stored in a damp garage the condition is very poor with a lot of rust and corrosion present.

Some of our members have inspected the tools and have identified the usage of some but the function of a lot of the tools still remains a unknown.

On the following pages we have a history of the Kaltenbach family, well researched and written by Dr Linnard, and a set of photographs showing the tools organised by drawer number with each tool numbered; at this time we cannot open the top drawer (No1).

Would also like to thank Mr Alan Harding for his donation to our society of this important piece of Cardiff’s history.

Please help in identifying the tools by giving any information you can and we will up date the website,

no need to give your name unless you wish to have you name added to the site as a thank you.

Mr Arthur Kaltenbach outside his watch making workshop shop at number 23 back in the 1870s


Many German watchmakers bearing the name Kaltenbach set up family businesses in South Wales during the second half of the nineteenth century. They included Bertin Kaltenbach in Maesteg, Francis and George Kaltenbach in Pontypridd, Henry Kaltenbach in Llanelly, Frederick Kaltenbach in Cardiff, Maximilian Kaltenbach in Abergavenny, and Samuel Kaltenbach in Neath and Swansea.

The Kaltenbachs of Cardiff were perhaps the best-known and

longest-lasting of all these watchmaking families. Edward and

Adrian Kaltenbach came to Cardiff in the 1860s when the place

was expanding rapidly thanks to coal. They set up their watch,

clock and jewellery business in Caroline Street, a business which

continued to flourish on the same site for nearly 150 years.

The main shop premises were always at 22 & 23 Caroline Street,

where Edward Kaltenbach advertised

‘WATCHES! WATCHES!! WATCHES!!! Silver patent lever watches,

chronometer balances, all kinds of other gold and silver watches,

and gold and silver jewellery’.

For a time Adrian Kaltenbach had a separate shop at 39 Caroline Street, where in 1876 he advertised

‘All kinds of English and Foreign Watches, Clocks, and Jewellery repaired’. Edward Kaltenbach continued the business at 22 & 23 Caroline Street until about 1906 and later his son Arthur inherited and took over the business. Arthur Kaltenbach, jeweller and watchmaker, ran the business for very many years, and in 1992 it was still being continued by his daughters Christine and Theresa. Stewart Williams (Cardiff Yesterday 1992, photo 51) shows an old photo of the shop front in the 1920s, and commented that the shop still looked .much the same inside and outside. However, not long afterwards the Kaltenbach business in Caroline Street finally closed down, bringing to an end a family business that hand operated through wars and periods of economic depression for nearly a century and a half.

bottom of page