Strolling around the Welsh capital, admiring iconic landmarks like Cardiff Castle and the Principality Stadium, visitors probably spend little time pondering what’s below their feet. Well, it turns out, there’s a lot of history down there.
The city of Cardiff was once flooded with canals, which were used to transport coal, steel and iron from the Welsh heartland to Cardiff's dock complex, which grew to become one of the largest docks in the world during its heyday in the 19th century.
However, when the railway network arrived, making transportation of materials by train more efficient than by boat, the canals became redundant. They were eventually paved over in the 1940s, and faded from memory.
But now, Cardiff’s canals are making a comeback.
Following a major, long-running construction project, a section of the Churchill Way dock feeder canal has seen the light of day for the first time in 70 years. The development is the first in a multi-pronged regeneration strategy that hopes to create a “canal quarter” in the eastern part of Cardiff city centre.
The Churchill Way dock feeder canal, previously hidden beneath 70 gigantic concrete beams, will add a new visual element to the city, while also helping to manage traffic flow and surface water drainage, diverting water away from the sewage system. It is also hoped the reclamation of this slice of Cardiff's heritage will encourage investment and bring new businesses to the district.
Speaking to the BBC, Council Strategic Planning and Transport member, Dan De'Ath, said, ‘The dock feeder should act as a catalyst for private sector investment creating jobs and opportunities in the east of the city centre.’
The new canal leisure complex will join a number of existing aquatic attractions in Cardiff, such as the Cardiff International White Water centre in Cardiff Bay. The city also has the River Taff running right through its centre, which is a hit with kayak and stand up paddleboard (SUP) enthusiasts.
Learn more about urban adventures on offer in the Welsh capital.