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Cardiff Bay ( ) is the area created by the Cardiff Barragemarker in South Cardiffmarker, the capital of Wales. The regeneration of Cardiff Bay is now widely regarded as one of the most successful regeneration projects in the UK. The Bay is supplied by two rivers (Taffmarker and Elymarker) to form a freshwater lake round the former dockland area south of the city centremarker. The Bay was formerly tidal, with access to the sea limited to a couple of hours each side of high water but now provides 24 hour access through three locks.


Cardiff Bay played a major part in Cardiff’smarker development by being the means of exporting coal from the South Wales Valleysmarker to the rest of the world, helping to power the industrial age. The coal mining industry helped fund the building of Cardiffmarker into the Capital city of Wales and helped the Third Marquis of Bute, who owned the docks, become the richest man in the world at the time.

As Cardiff exports grew, so did its population; dockworkers and sailors from across the world settled in neighbourhoods close to the docks, known as Tiger Bay, and communities from up to 45 different nationalities, including Norwegian, Somali, Yemenimarker, Spanish, Italian, Caribbeanmarker and Irish helped create the unique multicultural character of the area.

After the Second World War most of the industry closed down and became derelict. But, in 1999, new life was injected into the area by the building of the Cardiff Bay Barragemarker, one of the most controversial building projects of the day but also one of the most successful.


The Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC) was created in 1987 to stimulate the redevelopment of 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) of derelict land. The Development Corporation aimed to attract private capital by spending public money to improve the area. Despite opposition by environmentalists and wildlife organisations, the mudflats at the mouths of the River Taffmarker and River Elymarker were inundated, with loss of habitat for wading birds. The Barrage has created several new habitats for freshwater species with the wetlandsmarker to the south of the Hamadryad Park.

Cardiff Bay in 2008
When the Development Corporation was wound up in on 31 March 2000, it had achieved many of its objectives. The whole area was unrecognisable from ten years before. Much private land was now open to the public, particularly around the inner harbour and the north side of Roath basin. Work is progressing to complete a 13 kilometre walkway around the Bay and the Barrage has created a world-class environment. In addition the development has enabled land in the city centremarker to be redeveloped for higher-value uses.

The development of "something like 1,250 apartments a year" however might cause future problems, as currently (2008) up to one third are not occupied. Critics such as Lorraine Barrett (AM Labour, Cardiff South and Penarth) say, the flat complexes will not help to build up a community and too few attention has been paid to develop affordable housing. With the recent falls in property values, sales in the area have become problematic. Therefore landlords might be more willing to rent their places out to "people who may not be suited to that type of living."

Connecting the Bay area to the centre of Cardiff was a primary goal when plans to develop the docklands were first mooted. Original plans included a grand boulevard (similar to where Lloyd George Avenuemarker is located now) with high density commercial and residential units straddling both sides. This would have created significant demand for quality public transport provisions facilitating connections to the new Bay area but public transport was often of poor quality and, but there are now much improved connections through the Cardiff Bus BayCar service and rail service from Cardiff Queen Streetmarker to Cardiff Bay railway stationmarker.
The Wales Millennium Centre, seen from Roald Dahl Plass

Notable buildings

St David's Hotel

The St David's Hotel and Spa is a 5-star luxury hotel with commanding views of the Bay and Penarth. Built by Rocco Forte in 2000, the hotel was sold in 2007 to Principal-Haley hotels.

Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre

A unique building known locally as 'The Tube' managed by Cardiff Harbour Authority housing exhibitions and providing visitor information.

The Pierhead Building

Debating chamber of the Senedd
The Pierheadmarker was built in 1897 and designed by William Frame, who studied under William Burgess It was formerly the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company.

The Senedd

The Seneddmarker is the National Assembly for Wales building which includes the debating chamber and committee rooms.

Wales Millennium Centre

The Wales Millennium Centremarker is home to the Welsh National Opera.

Norwegian Church

Norwegian Church from the water

The Norwegian Church Arts Centre, is a rescued historic wooden church that was rebuilt in 1992 and is now managed by Cardiff Harbour Authority as a venue for small concerts and art exhibitions.When living in Cardiff as a child, the famous children's author Roald Dahl attended this church.

Craft in the Bay

A refurbished Victorian dockside building houses Craft in the Bay, the home of the Makers Guild in Wales.


Mermaid Quay
Techniquestmarker is an educational science centre.

Roald Dahl Plass

Roald Dahl Plassmarker is a large open amphitheatre style plaza frequently used as a venue for carnivals and festivals all year round.

Mermaid Quay

Mermaid Quay comprises a mix of restaurants, bars, cafés, shops and services located on the waterfront

Water-based attractions

  • The Cardiff Bay Wetland Reservemarker which has rare birds and a boardwalk leading to a viewing platform
  • The Water Bus, which offers a public transport service and tourist cruises.
  • Cardiff Bay Barragemarker, accessible via the Water Bus and by road, is free to explore and also has guided tours.
  • the Helwick Lightship, a restored old Lightvessel with a cafe.
  • Queen Alexandra Dock
  • several smaller docks with landscaped seating areas and bridges, and views across the Bay.
  • numerous small private yachts and fishing boats moored within the Bay.
  • A wide range of watersports tuition & activities at Adventure Cardiff.
  • Cardiff Yacht Club - Dinghy racing and cruising, yacht racing and cruising, sea fishing, rowing
  • Cardiff Bay Yacht Club - The premier watersports club in South Wales
  • Cardiff City Rowing Club

Commercial and residential

Appearances in the media

Cardiff Bay was used as the high-tech urban setting for the Ninth Doctor Doctor Who episode Boom Town and for the Torchwood spinoff, whose makers deliberately avoided stereotypical portrayals of Wales in order to portray Cardiff as it is today, a modern urban centre. In the Torchwood series, there is a giant underground base, secretly under-neath the Bay named "The Hub" from where the Torchwood team work. There is also a lift from the hub into the plaza with a perception filter making anyone who stands on the spot "Not noticed".. Roald Dahl Plassmarker features prominently.

Also the Tenth Doctor Doctor Who Christmas Special (2006), "The Runaway Bride" made use of office buildings in the Cardiff Bay.


Cardiff Bay railway stationmarker is northeast of Mermaid Quay and is served by shuttle services to Cardiff Queen Street railway stationmarker.

Cardiff Bus operates the following services to the Bay:
  • 1 - Bay Circle clockwise: Grangetown-Leckwith-Canton-Fairwater-Llandaff-Gabalfa-Heath-Penylan-Roath-Tremorfa-Central Station
  • 2 - Bay Circle anticlockwise: as above but reversed
  • 6 - Baycar: Queen Street station via Central Station
  • 8 - University Hospital of Wales via Grangetown, Central Station, Roath, Cathays and Heath
  • 11 - Pengam Green via Central Station and Tremorfa
  • 35 - Gabalfa via Central Station, Cathays and Heath

The Bay lies of the A4232 before the Butetown tunnels and is linked to the city centre by Lloyd George Avenue or Bute Street.

A cycle hire system, similar to those in other large cities, launched in September 2009, and includes 70 bikes and 35 hire points (initially 7) around the centre and the south of the city. The current stations are: Central Station; Cardiff Bay Station; County Hall; Cardiff Bay Visitors’ Centre; Churchill Way; City Hall and eastern Queen Street. It is necessary to register before using bike. The first half an hour is free after which a small hourly fee is payable.

See also


  1. Report on Cardiff Bay
  2. Esys Consulting Ltd, Evaluation of Regeneration in Cardiff Bay. A report for the Welsh Assembly Government, December 2004
  3. The Politics Show, BBC 1 Wales, Sun 8 June 2008
  4. [1]
  5. Norwegian Church Cardiff - Home, Welcome, Croeso, Velkommen

External links

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