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Cardiff Docks, Cardiff

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The Glamorganshire Canal (nprn 34425) of 1798 brought iron from Merthyr Tydfil for export through the then small port attached to the village of Cardiff. Cardiff expanded rapidly from the 1830s onwards and became the main port for exports of coal from the Cynon, Rhondda, and Rhymney valleys, growing at a rate of nearly eighty per cent each decade between 1840 and 1870. To meet the increased demand for shipping facilities the Bute West Dock (nprn 34257) was opened in 1839, enclosing 7.7ha of water; it is now filled in and built over and the entrance basin (nprn 34288) is the Roald Dahl Plasse and a public space. Bute East Dock opened in 1859 and eventually enclosed 18.2ha; much of this survives as an isolated stretch of water, with a bonded warehouse (nprn 34244) at its north end. The docks continued expanding with the Roath Basin (nprn 305754), Roath Dock (nprn 34279) in 1887 and finally the Queen Alexandra Dock (nprn 34276) twenty years later. These parts of the dock are still in use commercially and the dock structures themselves are important historic features. In 1888 the docks were transferred from the Bute Estate to the Bute Dock Co. and then, in 1897 to the Cardiff Railway Co. A result of this was the pierhead building (nprn 34241) of 1896, alongside the West Dock Basin (nprn 34288), which housed the dock offices. To the west of the pierhead is Mountstuart Square where shipping and coal companies had their offices. Much has been demolished but the centre of the square is occupied by the Coal Exchange (nprn 31766), now used for functions, although its trading floor remains. In this area are the Custom House, Pilotage Building, a hydraulic accumulator station, graving docks and the Norwegian Church.
(Source: A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of South East Wales, AIA, 2003)
B.A.Malaws, RCAHMW, 14 October 2008.
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