Cardiff in the 1970s: A Decade of Change, Challenges, and Triumphs

Cardiff, the capital of Wales, experienced significant changes in the 1970s that reshaped the city and its culture. During this decade, Cardiff went through a period of major redevelopment, with new infrastructure, public buildings, and commercial centers being constructed, alongside significant population growth.

Many historic buildings in the city center were demolished to make way for new developments, such as the construction of the St. David’s Shopping Centre in 1972, which became the largest shopping center in Wales. The Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum, which showcased the history of Cardiff’s port and industries, also opened in 1971. However, this period of redevelopment also saw the loss of many historic buildings, including the grand Victorian Coal Exchange, which was demolished in 1973.

One of the most significant changes in Cardiff during the 1970s was the construction of the M4 motorway, which linked the city to London and other major cities in the UK. This new infrastructure helped to boost the city’s economy and allowed for greater mobility and transportation. However, it also brought increased traffic and pollution to the city.

The 1970s saw a growing interest in Welsh identity and language, which was reflected in the establishment of various organizations promoting Welsh culture and language. In 1971, the Welsh Language Act was passed, which gave the Welsh language equal status with English in public life in Wales. This legislation helped to promote the use and teaching of Welsh, which had been in decline for many years.

The 1970s also saw a significant increase in the popularity of music and entertainment in Cardiff. The city became a hub for live music, with popular venues such as the New Ocean Club, which hosted many well-known bands of the era, including T. Rex and Slade. The city also saw a rise in the popularity of punk and new wave music, with local bands such as The Alarm and The Vibrators achieving success in the UK music scene.

In terms of sports, Cardiff continued to be a significant location for rugby, with the city’s rugby team, Cardiff RFC, achieving success in the 1970s, winning the Welsh Rugby Union Cup several times during the decade.

The 1970s were a time of significant change and growth for Cardiff, with the city undergoing major redevelopment and experiencing cultural and social shifts. While the period brought new opportunities and infrastructure to the city, it also saw the loss of many historic buildings and increased traffic and pollution, highlighting the complex and often conflicting nature of urban development.

#1 Low tide. Looking towards Cardiff docks before the barrage. A dredger is at work near Queen Alexandra dock, Cardiff, May 1973

#2 Queen Elizabeth II being greeted by the Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Rev John Worthington Poole-Hughes, as she arrives with the Duke of Edinburgh at Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff

#4 Tiger Bay Fountain. A fountain that once stood at the entrance to the Bute Docks in Cardiff’s Butetown. Now relocated, and in Victoria Park, Canton. You don’t see adverts for cigarettes like this anymore, Cardiff, February 1971

#5 A three coach DMU set at Bute Street Station. In those days this service ran between here and Coryton. Now it’s been replaced by a single coach unit shuttling between here and Queen St, Cardiff, July 1973

#6 Bridge buttresses that once supported the bridges taking the lines down to the eastern side of the Bute East dock. All gone, Cardiff, March 1974

#7 The bricked up end of the tunnel under the River Ely, as seen from the Cardiff End, December 1974

#9 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visiting Wales during the silver jubilee tour, pictured passing through, Cardiff, 24th June 1977.

#10 Queen Elizabeth II visiting Wales during the silver jubilee tour. Pictured chatting to youngsters at Caerphilly castle, 24th June 1977.

#11 Queen Elizabeth II visiting Wales during the silver jubilee tour. June 1977.

#14 Bute Street Station. Trains now use the platform opposite, Cardiff, November 1974

#16 Looking west in Grangetown. This was the bridge that took the freight line down to the old oil terminal by the river Ely. The bridge has gone now and the view ahead dominated by IKEA, Cardiff, December 1974

#17 Penarth Head. Looking out towards Penarth from next to the entrance to the Roath Dock, Cardiff, February 1974

#18 The inner harbor. This view towards the Pierhead has changed a bit, Cardiff, February 1974

#19 This bridge used to carry the line to the east side of the Bute West dock. This is Tyndall Street looking west towards Herbert Street, Cardiff, March 1974

#20 This view looking west of the bridge taking the line down to Cardiff Bay Station has changed beyond recognition! All the buildings in this view have gone. This is now the Junction between Lloyd George Ave and Herbert St, March 1974

#22 GWR Parcels Depot. This site is now the car park to the south of Cardiff Central, Cardiff, February 1975

#23 Hill St. A great shot looking over Penarth Docks to the Bay, Cardiff, January 1975

#25 The Old Library. A nice shot of Hayes Island, from the days when it was still an Island, Cardiff, February 1975

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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