Subway street art

River Ely & Penarth DocksOnce the busiest docks in the world Cardiff Bay has a lot of history and stories to tell.
But as the new ‘Cardiff Bay’ takes over from the older ‘Tiger Bay’ it’s great to unearth some history about the place which has been brought to the forefront by local artist Peaceful Progress.

The artist was approached by the Cardiff Harbour Authority to paint on the Pont Y Werin bridge which now joins Cardiff and Penarth over the River Ely on the western side of Cardiff Bay.
(Still can’t believe it was built in 2010!)
Construction of Pont Y Werin bridgePont Y Werin bridge opens

Peaceful Progress wanted to pay homage to the only route previously connecting these parts of the old Tiger Bay – namely a subway tunnel that ran under the River Ely.

A huge thank you to Ben Salter whom had previously captured the Ely Subway Tunnel within his great archive of Cardiff Bay over the last few decades – click any picture to view more pictures from Ben’s collection.
The Ely Subway.Penarth Docks Subway Building
Ely SubwayAbove is the Penarth entrance to the tunnel where homes have now been built at Penarth Marina and the entrance no longer exists.

Whereas to the left is the Cardiff entrance which is located on the small bit of land that juts out into Cardiff Bay and is very near the Cardiff Bay Yacht Club now.
It’s claimed a bricked up entrance is still visible!
The skyline has totally changed over the last 30 years with high rise tower blocks and concrete jungles taking over the cranes and coal vessels of yesteryear.
Peaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay
Peaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay
Peaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay

Ely Subway Peaceful Progress has taken inspiration from a worker emerging from the tunnel and has also recorded the tunnel construction date of 1899.

The 1250 foot long cast-iron tunnel officially opened in 1900 and then eventually closed in 1963 but could still be navigated until 1971.

Peaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay

The artist has also used loads of small Polaroid type snaps of other Tiger Bay imagery around the main tunnel piece.

Peaceful Progress, Cardiff BayPeaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay
Peaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay
Peaceful Progress, Cardiff BayPeaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay
Peaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay
Peaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay
Peaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay

In 1991 the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (the body formed to re-develop Cardiff Bay) considered re-opening the tunnel as a pedestrian link between Penarth and Ferry Road. When engineers opened up the subway and investigated its condition they found the tunnel was still sound, and water ingress was only “minimal”. It’s still there today hidden and forgotten beneath the bed of River Ely” – Penarth Daily News

Peaceful Progress, Cardiff Bay

It’s always great to be reminded of some of the history of Cardiff – so a huge thank you and respect to the Cardiff Harbour Authority for commissioning the artwork, Ben Salter for taking the photos of the original tunnel and to Peaceful Progress for perfectly capturing the spirit of the tunnel and giving passers-by an insight into the area’s forgotten past.

One Comment Add yours

  1. David Carder says:

    I love it – it made a grumpy old man smile – thank you! – regards to Penarth and Cardiff from Dai the rat

    Liked by 1 person

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