Callaghan Square was built in 1999, on the site of the old Sea Lock Pond – the very end of the Glamorganshire Canal, just south of the GWR line between Swansea and London.
It has its own blog, and its own Facebook page. I think it’s the first subject I’ve featured in my Merthyr Road project that has its own Facebook page.
These are the new British Gas offices in Callahan Square, home of the European Call Centre of the Year (Sept 2009), and the best call centre in Europe to work for (Sept 2009).
British Gas have had a call centre in Cardiff since 1986, employing up to 1,700 people, making them a major employer in the city. They moved into this new building in 2009. Their old building on Churchill Way has been converted into a Premier Inn hotel.
Callaghan Square was built along with the nearby Lloyd George Avenue specifically to link the city centre of Cardiff with the regeneration of Cardiff Bay. One of the key features of this design is its square and water features.
Although British Gas and Eversheds are the two highest profile tenants of Callaghan Square (they have the logos most prominently seen from the trains from London pulling into Cardiff Central Station …), the offices here are home to other organisations too, such as the British Transport Police.
This is why you buy high-quality, fast glass for your camera, so that you can get shots like this
In the background, you can see the one-car train trundling along the old TVR line from Cardiff Bay station.
Amazingly, when the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (closed in 2000) drew up the original plans for Callaghan Bay / Lloyd George Avenue, those plans included ripping up the TVR railway line down to Cardiff Bay. It seems that their opportunity has now passed, but you never know … one day the train in this shot might be part of history rather than the present.
A couple of the lamp posts in Callaghan Square have prohibition signs (banning skateboarding and larking about in the water) attached to them, for what little good they do. I didn’t see anyone in the water, but the skateboarders were certainly enjoying themselves.
Kinda fits in with the history of this area, which reportedly was once the red light district of Cardiff.
Callaghan Square was originally going to be called Bute Square (after the Marquis of Bute, who was responsible for building Butetown and the Bute Docks), but partway through construction, Cardiff City Council decided instead to rename it to honour the former Labour Prime Minister, who was a Cardiff MP for many years.
I wonder if anyone noticed the irony of naming the regenerated wharfs of the Glamorganshire Canal after its longtime rival? Perhaps they should have called it Crawshay Square.
When I visited, the water features of Callaghan Square were dormant, simply making little spurts like this one. That allowed me to get up close to photograph them in detail.
And here it is, in all its glory – Callaghan Square.
In the distance to the left, you can just make out the Herbert Street bridge, over which runs the old TVR line down to Cardiff Bay. On the far right hand side is the statue of the Marquis of Bute. And in the middle, we have the water features that you’re prohibited from playing in.
I’ve been commuting into, and through, Cardiff for many years now, and sadly my one abiding memory of Callaghan Square over the years has been seeing empty offices from the train.
I wonder if it has anything to do with the property developers and agents seeking rents of 20 GBP per square foot these days, in a city that traditionally has paid a lot less for its office space?
In all honesty, I think Callaghan Square has made the same mistake that most of the redevelopment in Cardiff has made. If you want to create something that can be talked about the world over, please please please make it possible to take interesting photographs of it!
This is what sets the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff’s glorious civic centre apart from the Millennium Centre or indeed Callaghan Square.
But there is one saving grace – although I have not done it justice at all – and that’s the way that 1 Callaghan Square (home to Eversheds) curves around.
If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.