Cardiff Bay is just a short car or bus ride from Cardiff City Centre and stands as one of the finest examples in Europe of urban regeneration. It was established when a barrage was built between Queen Alexandra Dock and Penarth Head in the 1990s. Before construction started the dockland was derelict and somewhat of a ‘blot on the landscape.’ It also had a reputation as the city’s main red light area. It is perhaps unique in having a commemorative mural for the ‘ladies of the night.’ In the early 80s, the Secretary of State for Wales Nicholas Edwards, Conservative MP for Pembrokeshire at the time, visited the area and decided it was badly in need of regeneration. Edwards, being a man of culture and having a special interest in opera, had a vision that the Bay would become an area of new homes, restaurants, shops and even a waterside Opera House.
However, the nature of the landscape with its mudflats and tidal changes that left the bay empty at times was not aesthetically pleasing and spoilt the vision Edwards had for the area. The solution came when Welsh Office civil servant, Freddie Watson, proposed the building of a barrage; the idea being that it would provide a ‘basin’ to trap the freshwater from the rivers Ely and Taff creating a large lake that would retain a constant water level.
Construction was completed in 1999 and the sluice gates were closed at ‘high tide’ to trap the tidal water coming in from the Bristol Channel. This however created water quality issues and changes to the barrage had to be made so that the Bay eventually became a ‘fresh water only’ manmade lake.
The barrage was opened to the public in 2001 and visitors to the Bay can take a boat ride over to it and see the structure in action. Cardiff Bay is Europe’s largest waterfront development and was once called ‘Tiger Bay’ and was home to the world famous Welsh singer, Shirley Bassey. The district is the oldest multi-ethnic community in Wales and sailors and workers from over 50 countries around the world settled in the area.
It was once a red light district and known for its criminal activity and gambling dens. During the 1960s the area was neglected and a lot of the community broke up. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the area saw a high intake of refugees from various world conflicts. The 1990s saw a turnaround of the area and with new investment and local business development the seed was sown for one of the top locations for leisure and culture in Wales.
Cardiff Bay is home to the Welsh Assembly and the terracotta building at the pier head is open to visitors. The Bay has a number of museums including the Dr Who Experience that has recently been updated and revamped (2014), Techniquest Science Discovery Centre, Butetown History and Arts Centre and the truly iconic international Millennium Centre, where visitors who have a special interest in architectural design will be delighted by the building’s unique frontage.
Cardiff Bay has something to offer people of all ages from its trips across the water to its restaurants serving multi-cultural food and drink to the hotels and its nightlife. Fans of Dr Who and Torchwood will know the Bay as the filming location of both TV programmes.
As one of the main trading ports of Britain, Cardiff Bay – once known as Tiger Bay – has a notorious past. In 2009 the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that the ghost of a Victorian woman had been captured on camera by the Street View team of Google Earth. The photo clearly shows the woman dressed in long skirt, Victorian-style blouse, bow tie, blue boater hat and scarf. She appears to be shimmering and floating above the pavement.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
The Millpond (Lane), Little Tarrington, Hereford
Herefordshire, England, HR1 4JA
+44 (0)1432 890 243
- Address: New George Street, Cardiff, South-Glamorgan, Wales, United Kingdom, CF10 5BW
- GPS: 51.46311944,-3.165094444
- Phone: 0044 (0)2920 877 927
- Part of UK: Wales
- Sat Nav Postcode: CF10 5BW
- Entrance Fees: Free access to waterfront / Attractions require entrance fee
- Disabled Access: Very Good
- Visibility from Road: Excellent (From Harbour Drive)
- Image Credits: Header Image: Matthew Dixon