Canvassing in Cardiff

It’s election time again; up and down the country, hundreds of volunteers will be pounding the streets, knocking on doors and trying to persuade reluctant voters into the polling booths. A successful campaign requires a lot of planning though, and, of course, a map. This old map of Cardiff seems to be just such a map; the electoral wards are shown, and a previous owner (as well as helpfully writing ‘CARDIFF’ on the cover just to make sure) has added lots of interesting annotations.


It’s not immediately clear what the wards “shown thus” are for, but they are most likely to be local council wards. They equate roughly to the current Electoral Districts, give or take a few boundary changes, as seen in these screen shots from the Ordnance Survey election maps site.

Cardiff wards 1Cardiff electoral districts 1

Cardiff wards 2Cardiff electoral districts 2

Most of the annotations are likely to be house numbers, probably of known supporters or party workers, or maybe a boundary to show how far each volunteer should go along certain streets.

Address labelsAddress labels

The map is also interesting because it is shows a pre-war street layout. Large parts of Cardiff were bombed during WWII and all over town there are gaps or new builds between the terraced houses. Here though, all the streets are intact, and the original layout is still visible. Maps produced by Geographia often have a date code in the bottom left corner – I can just make out the letters E.BL. Substituting the digits 1234567890 for the letters CUMBERLAND, gives 5.47 or May 1947.

Publication date

So, although it was published just after the war, a pre-war survey must have been used. Images 1 and 5 on this BBC News page show the damage at Blackstone St and Craddock St. The terraces were never rebuilt and a block of flats stands there today.

Riverside detail 

The other notable development since this map was produced is the redevelopment of the bay. Here we can see the old streets of Tiger Bay – birthplace of Welsh legend Shirley Bassey – and Cardiff docks: mile upon mile of railway sidings, bringing coal from the South Wales coalfield, to be loaded onto ships and transported across the world.

Tiger Bay

Cardiff detail

Bing map
[Apologies – Bing maps are more up to date than Google, but don’t embed properly in WordPress blogs. Click the image for an interactive version.]
As you can see, the coal tips have made way for a marina, lots of fancy apartments, Cardiff Whitewater, the Pont-Y-Werin footbridge, the International Swimming Centre, etc. etc. I’m intrigued by the old foot tunnel under the Ely though. I wonder if it’s still there…
My boss told me his neighbour used to walk through the tunnel, but it’s now blocked off. The Wikipedia Penarth page has this paragraph on the tunnel:
One feature of Penarth Dock was the tunnel underpass that connected Penarth dock to Ferry Road Grangetown under the River Ely (Welsh: Afon Elai).[8] Not quite wide enough for motor vehicles it was used by commuting pedestrians and cyclists as a short cut to work in Cardiff. The circular tunnel was about half a mile long with an entrance foyer at each end. Lined with cream and green coloured ceramic tiles the route was lit originally by gaslight and later by electricity. Completed in 1899, from parts cast by T Gregory Engineering Works, Taffs Well, the tunnel remained in use until the autumn of 1965 when it was closed and the ends bricked up, after a series of violent muggings, repeated vandalism and the cost of maintenance becoming uneconomical. The tunnel entrance at the Penarth end was located near the lock gates between the outer basin and the number one dock. This historic short cut route was ‘almost’ replicated and replaced in June 2008 with the opening of a pedestrian and cycle route across the new Cardiff Bay Barrage.
This article tells us a little more, including the toll: “1d for pedestrians, 2d for bicycles and 4d for prams.”