A view towards the Pierhead Building and what is today Mermaid Quay. I'm reasonably close to the correct spot with this photo, though I believe the photographer in 1917 was standing atop a warehouse that is now the site of the Doctor Who Experience. Surprisingly, as that church looks fairly old, it was not there when the original was taken.
If you were ever in any doubt that Cardiff was one of the busiest ports in the world, this shot of Roath Dock should disabuse you of the notion. As Ben Salter's caption reminds the reader, there were once so many ships moored at Cardiff it was said one could cross from one side to the other of the enormous docks by jumping from ship to ship.
Looking from in front of the Pierhead towards Penarth. The skyline atop the bluffs is still dominated by a church. The low tide in the old photograph is a reminder that this was taken before the locks were built and the harbour's water levels could be controlled.
This beached hulk was actually converted into a hospital ship in 1866 for the thousands of seamen who came into Cardiff's port, frequently bringing with them contagious diseases. The Marquis of Bute donated the land on which she sat and it soon gained the rather unfortunate name of Rat Island. It was only in 1905 that a new seamen's hospital was built. After the harbour was closed off from the ocean by locks the land itself was turned into a protected marsh area for birds. You can see two boys hopping over the pond today.
Coal hoists on the River Ely, a common site during Cardiff's coal-based heyday. They were not shut down until 1966. Since then the area has been reborn as a marina.
Penarth Dock which celebrated its 150th birthday on 10 June 2015. Here the docks are being dug out. Though an important coal-export harbour, Penarth itself was and remains a hugely popular holiday destination and is known throughout the United Kingdom as 'The Garden by the Sea.' Many of Penarth's wealthy yacht owning residents sailed to Dunkirk in 1940 to rescue the BEF from the advancing Wehrmacht—the legendary 'little ships'.
Passengers disembark from the little paddlewheel ferry Kate that ran between Penarth pier and the Pierhead. All visible are fashionably dressed.
Since the Customs House here was built in 1865, this is an old photo indeed. Before that the Penarth Head Inn was a legendary haunt for smugglers for centuries of Cardiff's history. Perhaps fitting then that they put the Custom House on the same spot.
Tugboats struggle to tow the Port Royal Park away from the pier at Penarth after the ship became untethered in the heavy seas and crashed right into the pier. A crowd has gathered to watch.
Another view of the Port Royal Park crushing the dock. It's lucky the damage was not more extensive!