Until the mid-nineteenth century, the whole of Cardiff’s foreshore comprised sea-washed moors and mudflats through which the Rivers Taff and Ely flowed into the Bristol Channel. The town quay stood where Westgate Street now runs, but was accessible by sea-going vessels only at high tide. Cardiff Bay did not exist in anything approaching its present form until the docks were developed in both Cardiff and Penarth.
Even then, for a century and a half, the Bay was tidal, with the river channels passing through large areas of mudflats at low tide. It was only in 1999, following completion of the Barrage, that the waters of the Taff and Ely were impounded, making Cardiff Bay a fresh water lake.
This suite of drawings by Mary Traynor pre-dates the Barrage. D1093/2/44 and D1093/2/45 depict scenes in the lower reaches of the Ely River, with St Augustine’s Church, on Penarth Head, clearly visible in the background.
D1093/2/49 is on the eastern side of the Bay, close to the former Roath Basin lock.
D1093/2/47 and D1093/2/46 are more general views, both of which vividly illustrate the low-tide mudflats.
David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer
- Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/44-47; D1093/2/49]
- Rees, William, Cardiff – A History of the City