Vulcan Hotel, Cardiff

The Vulcan Hotel has to be the most famous pub in all of Cardiff. Built in 1853, it is one of the oldest pubs in Cardiff, but for several years now has been under threat of closure because it is standing in the way of planned developments in what is becoming prime real estate in Cardiff.

With the current landlady leaving at the end of May, 2010, and (at the time of writing) no news about her successor, fans of this old-fashioned pub are very worried that the pub will finally close for the last time. If it does, the Welsh National History Museum out at St Fagans has previously offered to move this pub to their site.

I, for one, hope that the pub does stay open. A walk through Cardiff today is, imho, a walk through a total planning mess. Too many flats standing empty, and lots of modern buildings that don’t fit style-wise either with each other or their older neighbours. I think it would be nice for the planners (for once!) to see a bit of sense, and do something to preserve what little is left of old Cardiff before it is all lost forever.

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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Lost TVR Route To The Docks

Lost TVR Route To The Docks

Lost TVR Route To The Docks

If I have this right, the abandoned bridge towers in the foreground of this shot are all that remains of the TVR railway tracks that carried trains down from Cardiff Queen Street station to the eastern bank of the Bute West Dock. Today, none of the track survives; the area south of here was until recently Tyndall Street Industrial Estate, with Cardiff’s Little Venice (the Atlantic Wharf housing development) beyond it.

The surviving bridge tower has a personal significance to me. It’s my waypoint on the way home every evening, telling me it’s time to pack up my things because we’re about to pull into Cardiff Central beyond.

I couldn’t decide on which of these three photos I preferred, so I decided to post all three.

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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Animal Wall, Cardiff

Built in 1890, the Animal Wall outside Bute Park is sadly often overlooked by everyone who passes by. A grade 1 listed structure, the wall was originally sited in front of Cardiff Castle, but was moved to its present location in 1925.

The US Library of Congress contains a photo (believe to be taken before 1900) showing the Animal Wall in its original location.

References

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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Drive north along the A470 from Abercynon, and your view to the left is dominated by the Giant’s Bite, a gap in the skyline quarried from the ridge top.

The Photos

A Giant's Bite In The Landscape

The Giant’s Bite is a strange sight indeed, clearly visible against the sky.

A Giant's Bite On The Landscape

Up close, the quarrying that created this unique feature of the landscape is clear to see.

A Giant's Bite In The Landscape

Its position on the ridge top makes it easy to take dramatic photos of the quarry face against the sky.

A Giant's Bite In The Landscape

This single tree growing out of the old quarry face makes a great focal point for photography.

A Giant's Bite In The Landscape

Further down the slopes likes the eastern entrance to the old Cefn Glas railway tunnel that runs under the mountain.

A Giant's Bite In The Landscape

The views from the Giant’s Bite, more formally known as Cefn Glas, are best to the east, where you have Edwardsville and Quakers Yard.

Thoughts On The Day

We’d gone out for the afternoon for a walk on Cefn Glas. There’s a choice of routes to it; you can cycle along the Taff Trail over the Pontygwaith bridge and then head south instead of north, or you can drive to it through either Quakers Yard or Abercynon. We decided to drive, and parked up right at the foot of the ridge line itself.

The walk up from the road is easy enough. The ridge itself is maybe half a mile long, running north to south, making for a nice afternoon of wandering along between the Cynon Valley to the west and the Taff Valley to the east. The Giant’s Bite itself is much rockier, and takes a bit of care to clamber around; I can imagine it being a fun place to bring the kids for an afternoon.

Post Production

Although bright and sunny on the day, there were just enough clouds in the sky to make it extremely difficult to turn the colour shots into anything usable at all without HDR. Rather than resort to HDR, I decided to turn them into a black and white set instead. I can’t decide whether or not I’m happy with the results, but they are what they are.

See Also

I’ve really struggled to find anything at all about the Giant’s Bite on the Internet, but there’s plenty to be found regarding the railway tunnel that runs underneath.

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.

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

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Bridge Over The Glamorganshire Canal At Pont-y-dderwen

North of Navigation, in the shadow of the Giant’s Bite and Cefn Glas, stands one of the few surviving bridges that used to span the Glamorganshire Canal. Built in 1792, this bridge is 7 miles from where Canal Head used to be. This whole area is teeming with relics of the industrial heritage of the route along the canal:

  • Just a few hundred yards from this bridge is the eastern end of the Cefn Glas tunnel, which ran under the mountain from Penrhiwceiber to Quaker’s Yard via one of the lost viaducts over the River Taff.
  • Behind is the Giant’s Bite, an odd stone quarry dominating the skyline to the west.
  • Across the river runs the Penydaren Tramway, the route of the first steam railway journey in the world.
  • The tramroad runs near Pontygwaith and its historic bridge over the Taff.
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Where Brown Lenox Used To Be

This is the site where the Newbridge Chain Works, operated by Brown, Lenox, and Co Ltd used to be.

The Chain Works were built in 1816, and Brown Lennox operated a factory here until 2000. Since then, the site fell into disrepair, until in 2007 the local council took steps which eventually led to the site being cleared in 2009.

The Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries Digital Archive contains over fifty photos of the chainworks, several of which have been published in local history books over the years.

Today, the town is waiting to hear what will happen next on this piece of prime land … one of the oldest pieces of developed land in the town. Originally it was going to be a Morrisons supermarket, but that was rejected by the Welsh Assembly Government. Now? It might become a Sainsbury’s supermarket instead.

Or maybe in 10 years time we’ll still be left wondering what will happen.

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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A Lost Canal Bridge

It might not look like much today, and the bare trees and cold tarmac of the A470 might make this picture seem extremely unremarkable, but sixty years ago you’d have been looking at the canal bridge at Trallwn as it crossed the Glamorganshire Canal.

Sadly, although I’m sure I’ve seen a photo online of the bridge taken from about this spot, I’ve been unable to find it so far. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments below!

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