For old-time Cardiffians like yours truly, it still seems quite hard to take in the immense changes that have taken place around Cardiff Docks in the past decade or so.
When I was a kid, a trip to the bay invariably involved walking around large tracts of derelict land complemented by a vista of gloopy mud when the tide was out (see pic further down) – and then trying to find somewhere that would serve up a cuppa.
Recent huge investment and the controversial Cardiff Barrage project have triggered massive regeneration and helped turned the area into a major tourist attraction.
Incredibly, National Geographic listed Cardiff in their top ten worldwide ‘Best Summer Trips’ last year, warmly praising the facilities at Cardiff Bay.
Not all of the old docks area has been buffed up to a snapshot-friendly, tourist pleasing sheen yet though, with some buildings looking as shabby as they ever did.
Cardiff Bay station still looks as disappointingly decrepit as ever, which is kind of strange considering that it provides the gateway to the Bay for many visitors.
It’s hard to imagine now how busy the docks must have been in their heyday, but a fair bit of the industrial-era architecture survives.
The old Pilotage Building, now Woods Brasserie. Possibly the oldest building in the Bay, it was used by local pilots operating in the Bristol Channel to pick up their rosters and pay packets.
Designed to depict the previous use of the building as a Pilotage Office is this copper and steel weathervane, created by Andy Hazell in 1997.
The weather vane connects to the original weathervane clock, an attractive thing which features a moving fish to indicate wind direction.
On the seafront boardwalk, with a wide variety of restaurants and cafes to tempt visitors.
The Wales Millennium Centre (the Armadillo), opened in 2009. I love this building!
Twilight view. See below for how things looked back in the 1980s.
Cardiff Bay in the mid-1980s, showing the sea of sticky mud that was exposed for many hours when the tide went out. There wasn’t an awful lot to do in the area back then but I rather liked the post-industrial desolation.
The striking Senedd building facing Cardiff Bay. Home to the National Assembly for Wales, it was designed by Lord Richard Rogers and opened for business in February 2006.
View of Cardiff Bay seafront, showing the Pierhead building shrouded by scaffolding.
The stunning brick and terracotta building was opened in 1897 and served as the headquarters of the Cardiff Railway Company (formerly the Bute Docks Company).
Built and commissioned by Trinity House in 1953, the lightship Helwick LV14 was brought to Cardiff Bay in 1993 and has been restored to create a floating Christian Centre.
The famous Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay.
Winter early evening view, with the Norwegian Church to the left.
As car parks go, this one in Cardiff Bay definitely looks better than most! The illuminated façade covers six floors and was created by Tony Hogg Design.