Cardiff canal: Full plan for Churchill Way as drone footage shows progress of city's new quarter

  • Video credit: Knights Brown/Local Democracy Service

Footage has been released which shows the progress of the unveiling of the capital city's canal which has been covered up for more than 70 years.

The development of Cardiff's new canal quarter, which involves the exposure of the old dock feeder canal for the first time since 1950, is set to be completed in late summer.

The work on the site includes the building of concrete structures which will form the "public realm area" with bridges and a viewing platform.

Paving works have also started and the council added that it is expecting the area to be open to the public from September 2023.

Drone footage, produced by Knights Brown and made available to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) by the council, shows bridges and viewing platforms being put in place on Churchill Way.

An artist impression of what the canal quarter will look like when complete Credit: Atkins

The canal, which was covered up between 1948 and 1950, services the 25-mile Glamorganshire Canal from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff which brought steel and iron into the capital.

When the canal was created in the late 1830s it would continue onto what is now known as Churchill Way.

After reaching Cardifff Castle, the canal disappears underground, descending around 9 feet along its course and making it only visible a handful of times from the surface as it winds beneath the city streets.

Churchill Way in 1947 Credit: Media Wales

As the industrial revolution took hold, the three mile long canal was constructed in order to supply water to the docks in Cardiff Bay so that they could be operated even when the tide was out. This gave Cardiff one of the world’s first 24-hour docks and led to a rapid expansion of commerce and population in the city during the mid-19th Century.

However, once rail transport arrived, the canals rapidly lost business and often purchased by the Great Western Railway Company. Only profitable canals that could maintain an advantage in some way survived. The first phase of culverting was in 1949, in order to create a new city centre road, Churchill Way.

The work to uncover the canal is part of a wider plan to create a new public space with rain gardens, outdoor seating and an amphitheatre-style outdoor performance area.

The re-emergence of the canal is expected to create a new water habitat, and a new cycleway will be installed with wider pavements and better crossings.

Approved by Cardiff Council's Cabinet in May 2021, the project will interlink Bridge Street, David Street, Charles Street, Tredegar Street, Guildford Crescent and Barrack Lane.

It is also hoped that the mixed-use development will attract homes, hotels, hospitality and retail units to the area.

The project has been made possible with funding from the City Deal, Welsh Government and Cardiff Council.