Wenallt

The Wenallt Wood, an area of ancient woodland on a ridge to the north of Cardiff, was purchased in 1924 by Councillor R. G. H. Snook, the Chairman of the Parks Committee. He believed that the land could be developed as a public park, possibly as a golf course, and he offered to sell the 113 acre plot to the Council for the same price that he paid (£1,100).[1] This was subsequently accepted, though the Chief Parks Officer recommended that the land be maintained largely in its existing condition, and not developed as a golf course. The purchase was completed in January 1925, and funds were allocated for the clearing and widening of the rides, the improvement of the footpaths, and the placing of rustic seats.

The cottage Wenallt House was purchased separately in 1927. Under the terms of the purchase the existing tenant was granted a seven year lease, which meant that the cottage could not be used for Council purposes until 1934.

In 1930, by which time he had become Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Alderman Snook purchased and presented to the City as a gift, a further 26 acres of land at the Wenallt which had remained in private ownership. The following year the Parks Committee decided that a plaque was to be placed on the entrance gate in Wenallt Lane recording the fact that the wood was secured for the public by the public-spirited action of the Lord Mayor.[2] The inscription as reported in the Western Mail stated that "this park was secured for the recreation and enjoyment of the public by the foresight and generosity of Alderman R.G. Hill Snook, Lord Mayor of Cardiff, 1930-31".[3]

The Parks Department Inventory of Parks Buildings and Equipment, compiled for insurance purposes in April 1938, included the following information for Wenallt Cottage:

In the 1970s the Parks Service mess room and tool shed was located at ST 1504 7764 but no evidence remains today. In the 1970s, the Wenallt team consisted of three men, one of whom was based at Fforest Ganol. Routinely the side of the hill facing Rhiwbina would be cleared of all tree seedlings, though mainly Birch, to maintain a southerly view over Cardiff. Looking from Rhiwbina the hillside was yellow from the yellow-flowering plants Gorse, Broom and Goldenrod. There were five yard wide mown paths made in a roughly "Y"-shaped green pattern on the hillside and this could be seen for miles. It is thought that this approach to maintenance of the hillside may go back to the 1950s.[4]

Present day limited resources have meant that the hillside is no longer maintained in this way and is now overgrown with bracken and young trees such that views over Cardiff are hard to find.

At the top of the Wenallt, in the woodland, carpets of Bluebells flowering in May have been present for many decades.

A popular site used for barbecues was in a large narrow depression at approximately ST 15197 82032.

Bluebells at the Wenallt

Bluebells at the Wenallt (April 2017)

Wenallt BBQ site

Wenallt Barbecue site (June 2017)

Wenallt BBQ site

Wenallt Barbecue site, looking the other way (June 2017)

Other links

Left click a postcard image to enlarge it.  
  Although postmarked 1954, this image originated in 1931.
Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd. (postmarked 1954)  
   
 

An early photograph looking down from the Wenallt across the uncovered reservoir and on to Cardiff.

(Construction of this storage reservoir was completed c.1925[5] and it is thought to have been covered over c.1939.[6])

H. Tempest Cardiff Ltd (postmarked 1961)
Reproduced by kind permission of Tempest Photography
 

Sources of Information

In general, the information in this section is taken from A. A. Pettigrew, The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff, Volume 5.

Other sources are:

  1. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 7th October 1924
  2. Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 15th July 1931
  3. Western Mail 30 July 1931, cited by A.A. Pettigrew
  4. Personal communication (TD)
  5. Cardiff Corporation Waterworks by Charles H. Priestley, published Western Mail Ltd 1923, pages 63-73
  6. Plan to protect Cardiff's water in war-time. Western Mail Tuesday 14th March 1939 page 14