The Royal Oak, Pontypridd

The Royal Oak, at the southern end of Cilfynydd, is today best known for its Chinese restaurant and take-away. I can certainly vouch for their omelettes, although I must admit in recent weeks my favourite has been the sweet and sour chicken strips. Perfect when I’m home late from work and we’re both too tired to face the cooker!

I haven’t been able to find out much about when the Royal Oak was built. There’s mention of a Royal Oak pub in Glyntaf in the 1891 census, but unfortunately the accompanying images are behind a paywall (grrr – the National Archives website sends you to a commercial firm’s website which charges for access), so I can’t confirm whether this is the same pub or not. Like many of the properties along the A4054 through Cilfynydd, the Royal Oak would have backed onto the Glamorganshire Canal before it was closed.

If you can cast any light on the history of the Royal Oak, please leave a comment below.

References:

http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Place:Pontypridd_Registration_District%2C_1891_Census_Street_Index_P-R

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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East Canal Wharf

From 1794 through to at least 1951, this was the East Canal Wharf of the Glamorganshire Canal.

In the foreground runs the GWR railway (the main Swansea to London line still in major use today), built by 1850 by the South Wales Railway Company, which would have had to have bridged the canal at this point.

The red brick building in the top-right is the remains of the York Hotel, which adjoins Custom House, once the administrative home of the Glamorganshire Canal when operations were moved from Navigation House in Navigation (modern-day Abercynon).

Behind where I’m stood today is Callahan Square, but in the past this would have been the wharfs that stretched all the way down to the River Taff over a mile away: Sea Lock Pond, the first of Cardiff’s great docks.

You can clearly see in this photo how the road under the GWR bridge has to drop for cars and buses to fit underneath. My guess is that the clearance was a lot less when this was still canal!

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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.

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Barbed Wire And Broken Window

Seen in the alleyway beside the Atrium in Cardiff.

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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.

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The Photos

This Way To Callaghan Square

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.

British Gas at Callahan Square

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.

The Fountains Outside Eversheds

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.

The Fountains Outside British Gas

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.

The Fountains Of Callaghan Square

This is why you buy high-quality, fast glass for your camera, so that you can get shots like this 🙂

Callaghan Square And The TVR Beyond

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.

Like Anyone Takes Notice Of That

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.

The Marquis Of Bute

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.

Water Feature In Callaghan 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.

Callaghan Square

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.

My Abiding Memory Of Callaghan Square

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?

The Curves At Callaghan Square

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.

References

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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.

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Former Home of Welsh National Opera

On John Street, just opposite where the Cardiff Library found a temporary home during the construction of St Davids 2, is the former headquarters of the Welsh National Opera.

If I’m understanding the timeline on the WNO’s website correctly, they moved into these premises in 1984. Or it could be that they moved out in 1984 into the more modern buildings opposite that they still appear to occupy today?

In 2007, the Minister for Heritage in the Welsh Assembly Government went on the record saying that there were plans to sell the WNO’s site in John Street. Whether he meant this one, or the more modern one opposite, isn’t clear from his remarks.

If you can add more detail about this site, please leave a comment on my blog post.

References:

http://www.wno.org.uk/about-us/history-timeline/3682
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_National_Opera
http://wales.gov.uk/about/cabinet/cabinetstatements/2007/wmc/?lang=en

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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.

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Temporary Home of Cardiff Library

During the construction of the St Davids 2 shopping centre, Cardiff’s main library needed a new home. Their original site on Bridge Street was to be demolished to become part of the St Davids 2 complex, and their new site in what was the Marriott Hotel’s car park wasn’t going to be ready until towards the end of the St Davids 2 construction work.

The library ended up here, in a temporary building on John Street just south of the main Swansea to London railway line.

Today, the site is unused, and awaiting its next purpose. As most of the empty land around here (both at the end of John Street, and round the corner on Herbert Street) is being used as all-day parking, I wonder if it is just a matter of time before this too becomes a car park?

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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.

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Custom House Doors

These are the doors to Custom House, Cardiff, built at the north end of the old East Canal Wharf in 1798. They open onto St Mary’s Street, one of the main shopping streets in Cardiff.

Although once an important administrative office for the Glamorganshire Canal and its Sea Lock Pound, Custom House (and the adjoining York Hotel) has been empty for many years now. The reason for this is that the agent for the property is currently asking for an annual rent of 380,480GBP for 12,620 square feet of office space … a charge of around 30 GBP per square foot. I understand that to be quite high, and that’s before you consider the problems of turning this listed building into a modern office block that’s compliant with modern legislation such as the Disabled Discrimination Act.

Just around the corner, on Custom House Street, Chapter Arts hoped to open an arts centre right in the heart of Cardiff back in the 1970’s. To the best of my knowledge, that never happened, and the site they had in mind today appears to have been levelled and replaced by the Open University / Unison offices.

References:

www.cardiffians.co.uk/timeline.shtml
http://www.commercialroute.com/properties/?p=St.%20Lythans,%20Cardiff&i=26152&t=&page=7
http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/small/item/GTJ73166/
http://www.chapter.org/proposal.html

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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.

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Past, Present and Future In Cardiff

One of the first “single shot” series photos I published back in 2007 was Past, Present and Future in Cardiff. Three years on, I’ve taken this follow-up to show you just how much has changed in Cardiff:

Past, Present and Future in Cardiff: Part 2

Past

The Bute Dock Feeder was barely visible last time I visited here. It was overgrown and hidden in the shadows of the warehouse units on Tyndall Street Industrial Estate. This time, the warehouses are gone (as is the industrial estate; I guess we don’t make things any more in New Labour’s Britain), and the banks have been cleared quite a bit. The Feeder is visible here.

Present

“Torchwood Towers” no longer has the skyline to itself. It now has to share with new office blocks, new apartments, and the St Davids 2 complex.

Future

Last time, it was the empty skyline that was due to be filled by the St Davids 2 complex. This time, it seems like the empty foreground is what’s most likely to see change over the coming years.

Past, Present and Future in Cardiff: Part 2

Here’s a different angle of what was once Tyndall Street Industrial Estate, with the skyline beyond.

JR Smart (Builders) bought this site in 2008 and have demolished the industrial estate. They were planning to apply for planning permission for mixed office and residential use on the site. They were previously involved in converting the old AXA office tower into the Radisson Hotel (seen here as the left-most tower on the skyline), and also built the new office block by the Magic Roundabout just a bit to the east.

References

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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.

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Bird Box On Bridge

Download the full-size picture (3884 x 2600) to use as your desktop wallpaper.

All life needs space to flourish, and as we abandon land, so the wildlife slowly but surely moves back in to reclaim it for its own. This bird box is on the side of what was once a bridge over the Glamorganshire Canal’s Middle Lock. Today, people drive to and from the local supermarket barely 400 yards from this bridge, and I’m willing to bet that very few of them know that this bridge is here at all.

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ye olde Newbridge Arms
In all honesty, I don’t know much at all about the Newbridge Arms in Trallwn, Pontypridd. Most of my research is done online, and I’ve struggled to find anything at all about what must be one of the oldest surviving buildings in Pontypridd.

The pub prominently proclaims that it dates back to 1735. That makes it 21 years older than Pontypridd’s famous bridge (1756), 57 years older than the Glamorganshire Canal (1792 for this section) that eventually snaked right past its front door, and a whopping 235 years older than the A470 trunk road (1970) that has replaced the canal in modern times.

Today, this public house is 275 years old. I have real difficulty in imagining any building built today still standing in 275 years time; not because of poor construction, but because yesterday’s great pieces of architecture quickly become tomorrow’s eyesore (*cough cough* Taff Vale Precinct).

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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.

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