Barry Island

Barry Island

Barry Island

Barry Island has a key place in the social history of south Wales. This is because from the 1890s until the recent development of mass foreign tourism it was the focus of day trips to the seaside from the communities of the coalfield, and beyond. But the island is more than this. It is a distinctive part of a dock and railway town that grew up rapidly from 1884. Dock and town were designed to break the monopoly of Cardiff Docks over coal exports from south Wales. By 1913, Barry was the world’s premier coal exporting port. It was, of necessity, a new community, which attracted migrants from across the British Isles, and its cosmopolitan dockland reflected its global reach.

The immediate context of this study is the ongoing regeneration work that the Vale of Glamorgan Council and its partners are carrying out in Barry. This has generated enhancements to the historic eastern promenade and, at the time of writing, major redevelopment of the quays at Dock No. 1 is underway. However, it has broader intentions. Recognition of the significance of the landscape and townscape features that contribute to a distinctive sense of place and an associated feeling of community may influence the way Barry Island is looked after, enhanced and developed, now and in the future, in a sustainable manner. The report could inform dialogue about what is significant in the historic environment of the island, as further initiatives and opportunities arise — whether at the seaside or in residential areas.

There is also much of interest for anyone who simply wants to find out more about the history and historic character of Barry Island.