PENARTH’S HIDDEN & FORGOTTEN SUBMARINE SUBWAY IS RE-APPRAISED

Inside the Penarth Subway beneath the River Ely

A rare colour photo showing the inside of Penarth’s pedestrian subway beneath the River Ely

An extraordinary 21st century analysis of one of Penarth’s major, but unsung, engineering triumphs,  the long-forgotten pedestrian tunnel beneath the River Ely, has now revealed  just how extraordinarily advanced the original Victorian design was.  

Computer generated scale image of what the tunnel looks like inside

Computer generated scale image of what the tunnel looks like inside. The pipes carried hydraulic power, water and gas.

The pedestrian tunnel ran from what is now Plas Pamir, beneath the River Ely to the area where Cardiff Bay Yacht Club now stands. It was a thoroughfare linking both banks of the river – allowing  pedestrians, including hundreds of sailors and dockworkers, to cross the Ely without negotiating the muddy river banks and taking the chain ferry.

The engineering exercise re-appraising the tunnel – or “Subway” as it was called – is  part of a remarkable historical website project on Penarth Dock and the Ely Tidal Harbour initiated by engineer (and former Penarthian) David Carder.

David Carder, wife Julie and son Martin - now MD of their company

David Carder, wife Julie and son Martin – now MD of their company

In 1966 Mr Carder was an apprentice at the Penarth Dock Engineering Company for which his  wife Julie also worked .

His son Martin is now MD of their firm Rota Design Ltd http://www.rota-design.com in Hebden Bridge West Yorkshire and is also involved in the project.

Mr Carder is determined to pull together an authoritative  history of Penarth Dock and the Ely Tidal Harbour using original plans, photographs, documents and personal recollections before they are lost in time.

He’s gleaned original detailed drawings showing the “complex geometry” of the tunnel which inclined downward to its midpoint and also curves laterally.

The route of the curving / dipping Penarth Subway

The route of the curving / dipping Penarth Subway

The father and son team have used three-dimensional CAD (computer-aided-design) technology to create a virtual model of the “subway” – as it was called.

Work started on building the original 1250ft-long cast-iron tunnel on July 5th 1897 and – despite two floods during construction – it was completed on  May 14th May 1900. Although now sealed off, it’s still in situ beneath the River Ely today .

The official opening of the Penarth Subway in 1900.

The official opening of the Penarth Subway in 1900 with all the great and good of Penarth in attendance.

Victorian pedestrians paid a penny for each crossing. Once inside they found there was 6ft 6 inches of headroom – just enough for a top hat. A string of the newfangled electric light bulbs lit their way as they walked down a steep incline (1 in 7) to a mid-point 50 feet below sea level (at Mean High Water Springs) and then climb the ascent to reach ground-level at the other side.

This profile of the tunnel shows the downward and upward slope

This profile of the tunnel shows the downward and upward slope

Any water on the walkway of the tunnel was drained away through grids to pipes beneath and pumped dry. The tunnel also carried gas pipes, water pipes and hydraulic power lines for coal-loading machinery (and later an 11,000 volt electricity cable). The man who designed it was Taff Vale railway engineer George Sibbering .

The tunnel was used  until 1936 when Penarth Docks were (temporarily) closed./ It was then re-opened for use as an air-raid shelter during the Second World War and for dock operations when Penarth Docks were taken over by the US Navy in the run-up to D Day. Both entrances were  finally bricked up in 1963 .

The Penarth Subway toll house stood where Plas Pamir is now. This one one of photographer Ben Salter's remarkable archive pictures (Photo Ben Salter)

The Penarth Subway entrance stood  where Plas Pamir is now. This is  one of  Ben Salter’s remarkable local archive pictures (Photo Ben Salter)

In 1976 part of the Penarth end of the tunnel was excavated and some cast iron was removed but the rest of it was left in place.

In April 1991 the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (the body formed to re-develop Cardiff Bay)  thought about re-opening the tunnel as a pedestrian link between Penarth and Ferry Road. When consulting engineers Brian Colquhoun & Partners  opened up the subway and investigated its condition they found the tunnel was still sound, and water ingress was only “minimal”. It’s still there today hidden and forgotten beneath the bed of River Ely.

It would have cost only £1,000,000 to refurbish the Penarth Subway. The Pont-y-Werin Bridge across the Ely cost £4,500,000 .

David Carter’s remarkable on-line archive on Penarth Docks and the Ely Tidal Harbour is on   http://www.penarth-dock.org.uk

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COUNCIL CONSIDERS “ENFORCEMENT ACTION” ON PLASSEY ST “STUDIO”

The "artist's studio at ;34A Plassey St which has been turned into a dwelling without planning permission

The “artist’s studio at ;34A Plassey St which has been turned into a dwelling without planning permission

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is considering enforcement action against the owner of a former  “art studio” at 34A Plassey St Penarth which has been allegedly converted into a home without planning permission.

The building involved is a two-storey end-of-terrace former coach house which measures 9.5 metres X 5.2 metres with a roof ridge height of 6.7 metres.

The premises had been used as an artist’s studio – but the council claims it’s now being used as a residential dwelling despite the fact that a planning application seeking change of use was refused on March 13th this year  .

The council turned the scheme down because it said the proposal ” fails to provide adequate amenity space and outlook to serve the future occupiers and is considered to detract from the residential amenity of the adjoining occupiers”

The council says the owner – who hasn’t appealed against the refusal of change of use – was told that the building’s use as a dwelling “must cease” 

The council says  that for every one square metre of gross floor area there should be the equivalent amount of “amenity space” and that 70% of amenity space should be in the private rear garden. The only external amenity space is a “dark and damp covered walkway area” which is said to be a shared pedestrian route for neighbouring properties.

On Thursday July 31st the Vale of Glamorgan Planning Committee is to consider a recommendation to serve an Enforcement Notice on the owner requiring the permanent cessation of the residential use of the building. It will also force the removal of all fixtures and fittings make the building habitable.

 

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SHOPLIFTING IS STILL PENARTH’S NUMBER ONE CRIME

A police stop and search in progress at Plymouth Park

A police investigation in progress at Plymouth Park on July 22nd

Shoplifting continues to be the major crime problem in the St Augustines Ward of Penarth local residents have been told .

Police have told the local Partnerships and Communities Together (PACT)meeting in the St Augustines Ward of Penarth that the majority of all crimes committed in Penarth are shoplifting thefts in the town centre stores – and that’s the category which takes up  most of the time of  Police Community Support Officers

Alleged drugs offences are also investigated

No action was taken after this investigation

But also high on the list are burglaries. Residents of Penarth Marina have said there have been  two serious robberies in domestic  premises in the Marina area within the last 12 months .

Police Community Support Officer Gareth Parry has confirmed this, saying  “I’m aware of a number of burglaries down the Marina” – the majority of which, he said had been in the vicinity of Anchor Road.

But the meeting was also told of other,  more unusual investigations . . Police had been called in to investigate cases of trees allegedly being  deliberately cut down on the escarpment overlooking the Marina . It was suggested that a reduction in the height of trees on this Council-owned land would have the effect of improving the view -  and property values – for some Penarth Heights residents .

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PENARTH FIREFIGHTERS CALLED TO COSMESTON AVENUE

 Penarth fire engine

Penarth fire engine

Penarth firefighters were called out last night to deal with a outbuilding fire in Cosmeston.

A garden shed in what South Wales Fire and Rescue called “Cosmeston Avenue” was reported to be “well-alight” at 20:30.

The Penarth crew tackled the blaze with a single hose reel . No one was injured. The cause of the fire has not yet been established.

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LOCAL VOTERS REJECT LABOUR’S PLANS FOR VALE /CARDIFF MERGER

The Welsh Labour Government wants the Vale to merge with Cardiff  controversial Williams Report suggests merging the Vale of Glamorgan with Cardiff

Local residents are overwhelmingly against the Welsh Labour Government’s plans to merge the Vale of Glamorgan (including Penarth)  with Cardiff to create one giant local authority

The Labour-controlled Welsh Assembly Government in Cardiff Bay has received a humiliating rebuff to its plans to merge the Vale of Glamorgan with Cardiff  – to create the largest local authority in Wales.

A public opinion poll carried out in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan has found that 63.5% of the residents in the Vale of Glamorgan (including Penarth) and in Cardiff oppose the merger proposal.

Fullscreen capture 26072014 114623.bmpThe public opinion poll, which was undertaken online and via telephone quizzed a statistically large sample of 608 people. It found that less that a quarter support the Welsh Labour Government’s contentious and widely-criticised plans.

Poll respondents said they feared council tax would rise, communities would lose local identity and fiddling with the existing boundaries would make councillors even less accountable to their constituents than they already are.

 The full results are:-

  • 63.49% opposed the plans to merge the Vale of Glamorgan council with Cardiff
  • 24.67% support the merger plans
  • 11.84% were undecided or did not know.

Penarth’s Conservative Assembly Member Andrew RT Davies said:

Penarth's Conservative AM  Andrew R T Davies

Penarth’s Conservative AM Andrew R T Davies

“I have consistently expressed my own concerns, not just as a politician but as a resident of the Vale, over these plans. However, it appears that residents in both Cardiff and the Vale are far from enthusiastic about Welsh Labour’s plans to create a ‘Greater Cardiff’ authority.Clearly, these proposals are not welcomed by the vast majority of local residents.”

Davies says First Minister Carwyn Jones’s Labour government “has no democratic mandate to press ahead with a  merger”.

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THE GREAT PENARTH ESPLANADE DIG TO CONTINUE INTO AUGUST

The trench extends from Beachcliff to the corner of Bridgeman Road

The trench extends from Beachcliff to the corner of Bridgeman Road. What had been an immaculately- paved sidewalk has now been excavated to install the power lines.  

The  Western Power Distribution project to dig up the pavement on the landward side of Penarth Esplanade and install mains electricity in the Beachcliff development is likely to continue until at least the second week in August .

The trench extends across the front of Windsor Court

The trench extends across the front of Windsor Court

The job involves the installation of new 11,000 volt distribution cables and 240 volt cables to provide power to the Beachcliff building  including the James Sommerin restaurant which has been running off a diesel-powered electricity generator since it opened in May.

The work has involved digging a long trench in the pavement from the corner of Bridgeman Road to the gap between Beachcliff and The Fig Tree restaurant in which a substation is to be installed.

It meant tearing up the immaculately laid pavement outside Beachcliff itself and again fencing off parking spaces which had been restored to public use after the removal of most of the blue hoarding outside the front of the development.

Restaurateur James Sommerin has apologised to Penarth residents for any inconvenience

Restaurateur James Sommerin has apologised to Penarth residents for any inconvenience

The original power lines for the old Beachcliff had been routed around the rear of the building and were, in any case,  not of sufficient capacity for the new building. The entire power system is being replaced by Energetics – a subcontractor to Western Power.

Restaurateur James Sommerin has apologised for any inconvenience the project  may cause residents of Penarth. The  Vale of Glamorgan council has said it is “mindful of minimising disruption to residents and visitors”.

This weekend and next are regarded by traders on the Esplanade as potentially the peak of the holiday period – if the weather holds.

 

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DEMISE OF LONG-STANDING ARCOT STREET RESIDENT

An aerial shot of Arcot St showing the tree which has now been felled

An aerial shot of Arcot St showing the tree which has now been felled

The street once intended to be  the main thoroughfare of Penarth – Arcot Street – is a little different this morning; another of its trees is missing.

Arcot Street (named after the historic Siege of Arcot, India in 1750 and the battle won there by Robert Clive)- was once lined with pavement trees on both sides . One by one they’ve been coming down. Now only two are left.

Now you see it ... now you don't . One of the last three trees left on Arcot St is reduced to a stump

Now you see it … now you don’t . One of the last three trees left on Arcot St is reduced to a stump

As of yesterday, there are no trees at all left on the eastern side of the street. The last one was sawn down – piece by piece – yesterday,  leaving just a four-foot-tall stump. And soon that too will be crunched into sawdust.

The broad street once intended as Penarth's main thoroughfare now has no trees at all on its Eastern side

The broad street once intended as Penarth’s main thoroughfare now has no trees at all on its Eastern side

Now only two pavement-trees are left on the Western side of the street and none at all on the Eastern side. Quite how the Vale of Glamorgan Council makes decisions about the Penarth’s famous street-trees remains a mystery.

All that's left of the tree felled in Arcot St yesterday

All that’s left of the tree felled in Arcot St yesterday

The Vale claims to re-plant a tree – somewhere – for every one it cuts down, but doesn’t actually replace a felled tree with a new tree in exactly the same spot. The result is that whole streets in what was once called “leafy Penarth” are now being progressively stripped of trees – one of them being Arcot Street.

Arcot Street was deliberately built as a wide thoroughfare by its  Victorian planners and had been intended to become Penarth’s “Main Street” . It was also  the route taken by the Victorian horse-buses which conveyed passengers from Penarth Railway Station to the Penarth Hotel (now Headlands).

Arcot Street  was once lined with over 50 trees. This morning only  two are left.

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