On 15 June 1910 the Terra Nova Expedition left the Roath Basin in Cardiff's docklands and headed south to Antarctica. On board were Captain Robert Falcon Scott and members of his British Antarctic Expedition, who aimed to be the first to reach the South Pole. Scott's entire party of five died on the return journey from the pole.
As Cardiff exports grew, so did its population; dockworkers and sailors from across the world settled in neighbourhoods close to the docks, known as Tiger Bay, and communities from up to 50 different nationalities, including Norwegian, Somali, Yemeni, Greek, Spanish, Italian, Caribbean and Irish helped create the unique multicultural character of the area.
After the Second World War most of the industry closed down and the area became a neglected part of Cardiff, a wasteland of derelict docks and mudflats. Social exclusion of the area's inhabitants rose and Cardiff Bay had above average levels of unemployment. But, in 1999, new life was injected into the area by the building of the Cardiff Bay Barrage, one of the most controversial building projects of the day but also one of the most successful.
The Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC) was created in 1987 to stimulate the redevelopment of 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) of derelict land. The Development Corporation aimed to attract private capital by spending public money to improve the area. Despite opposition by environmentalists and wildlife organisations, the mudflats at the mouths of the River Taff and River Ely were inundated, with loss of habitat for wading birds. The Barrage has created several new habitats for freshwater species with the wetlands to the south of the Hamadryad Park.
When the Development Corporation was wound up in on 31 March 2000, it had achieved many of its objectives. The whole area was unrecognisable from ten years before. Much private land was now open to the public, particularly around the inner harbour and the north side of Roath basin. Work is progressing to complete a 13 kilometre walkway around the bay. In addition, the development has enabled land in the city centre to be redeveloped for higher-value uses.
Connecting the bay area to the centre of Cardiff was a primary goal when plans to develop the docklands were first mooted. Original plans included a grand boulevard (similar to where Lloyd George Avenue is located now) with high-density commercial and residential units straddling both sides. This would have created significant demand for quality public transport provisions facilitating connections to the new Bay area but public transport was often of poor quality and, but there are now much-improved connections through the Cardiff BusBayCar service and rail service from Cardiff Queen Street to Cardiff Bay railway station.
On 30 January 2013 the planning consultant, Adrian Jones, stated that Cardiff Bay was a contender for the "worst example of waterside regeneration in Britain".
The Norwegian Church Arts Centre, is a rescued historic wooden church that was rebuilt in 1992 and operates as a registered self funded not for profit charity. It is managed by Cardiff Harbour Authority and is as a venue for small concerts, art exhibitions, conferences, meetings and celebrations.
When living in Cardiff as a child, the famous children's author Roald Dahl attended this church.
Craft in the Bay
A refurbished Victorian dockside building houses Craft in the Bay, the home of the Makers Guild in Wales.
Techniquest is an educational science & discovery centre, which also includes a science theatre and planetarium.
Roald Dahl Plass
Roald Dahl Plass is a large open amphitheatre style plaza frequently used as a venue for carnivals and festivals all year round.
Mermaid Quay comprises a mix of restaurants, bars, cafés, shops and services located on the waterfront.
The Red Dragon Centre (formerly Atlantic Wharf Leisure Village), a leisure and entertainment complex.
Appearances in the media
Cardiff Bay was used as the high-tech urban setting for the Doctor Who episode "Boom Town" and the show's spinoff, Torchwood, whose makers deliberately avoided stereotypical portrayals of Wales in order to portray Cardiff as the modern urban centre it is today. In Torchwood series, there is a giant secret base underneath the bay, named "The Hub", from where the Torchwood team works. There is also a lift from the hub into the plaza with a perception filter making anyone who stands on the spot "not noticed". In the third series of Torchwood entitled "Children Of Earth", Cardiff Bay was the centre of a bomb explosion, destroying the Torchwood Hub and Cardiff Bay.Roald Dahl Plass features prominently. In the episode "Utopia", the Plass is home to a rift that the Doctor uses to refuel his TARDIS. The Doctor Who episode "The Runaway Bride" made use of office buildings in Cardiff Bay.
The Pont y Werin pedestrian and cycle bridge opened in July 2010, completing a six and a half-mile circular route around Cardiff Bay and Penarth.
A cycle hire system, similar to those in other large cities, launched in September 2009, and includes 70 bikes and 35 hire points (initially seven) around the centre and the south of the city. The current stations are: Central Station; Cardiff Bay Station; County Hall; Cardiff Bay Visitors’ Centre; Churchill Way; City Hall and eastern Queen Street. It is necessary to register before using bike. The first half an hour is free after which a small hourly fee is payable.
Under the South Wales Metro Scheme, 3 new metro stations are due to be built in the area, serving a new Cardiff Bay, Roath Lock & Porth Tiegr.
Panorama of the Cardiff Bay in March 2008
Side view of the Norwegian Church
Cardiff Bay at night
Wetlands walkway in Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay Barrage Control Building
Three Bascule Bridges, Cardiff Bay Barrage
View of Cardiff barrage at sea
Cardiff Bay Barrage lock in use
Sculpture by Jonathan Williams depicting Captain Scott, outside the Norwegian Church