When we think of Cardiff or Caerdydd, we might think of the home of Welsh Rugby, or, for some of the older generation, the birthplace of Shirley Bassey (Cardiff Bay to be exact, or Tiger Bay as it was known then!). Wales’ biggest commercial centre, the city is one of the most vibrant cultural hubs of both Wales and the whole of the UK. For us here at Falcon Installations, it’s also one of the areas in South Wales that we’ve provided our services to for many years.
However, one question still remains to both tourists and even locals, just exactly which county is Cardiff in?
Cardiff County and Cardiff’s origin
Having gained city status in 1905, Cardiff had to wait 50 more years before becoming the Welsh capital and then just over 40 more before receiving county status too. So, if you’re asking ‘what county is Cardiff in?’, since 1996, Cardiff has been both a city and a county, becoming a part of the Welsh unitary authority system.
Beginning its life as a Roman fort situated at the mouth of the River Taff, the origins of the city’s name are hotly debated, but are widely believed to have come from an English corruption of the original Welsh title Caer-Taff (Fort on the Taff). After undergoing development in the 11th century, the fort became Cardiff Castle and a town began to develop on its outskirts. Acting as a market centre and small port for the coastal plain nearby, Cardiff’s trade and population developed steadily, remaining relatively humble until the arrival of the Bute family towards the end of the 18th century.
The Bute family opened a window of considerable expansion transforming the sleepy area into one of the greatest ports in the world. Their legacy lives on in Cardiff to this day, with several streets and landmarks still bearing their names, including Butetown, Bute Street and Bute Park. During this time, Cardiff exported large amounts of coal and began to flourish. It continued to progress and now finds itself categorised as both Cardiff city and Cardiff county. Not bad for a place with such humble beginnings.
But what about Glamorgan?
Local or not, you could easily be forgiven for questioning ‘is Cardiff in Glamorgan?’ and if South Glamorgan still exists. A Glamorgan flag was adopted in 2013, emphasising how significant the historic county remains. And, Glamorgan County Cricket Club play their home games at Sophia Gardens Cricket Ground, just outside Cardiff’s Bute Park and on the bank of the River Taff. For a county that no longer exists, some might say its time to update the name, if only to quell confusion.
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The county of Glamorgan actually came into existence in 1535, once the region had been incorporated into the Kingdom of England. As its county town for over 500 years, it comes as no surprise that Cardiff is still mistakenly thought to be within it with many combining Cardiff, South Glamorgan as one. The city actually underwent most of its significant periods of development whilst a part of this historic county. For instance, after Cardiff Docks were built in 1798, the city became the largest coal port in the world by 1913. This dramatic rise in industry led to an equally dramatic rise in population; Cardiff’s population was 1,870 in 1801, rising to 164,000 by 1901!
…and South Glamorgan?
Seeing as Cardiff would be located in the southern part of the historic Glamorgan county, and known as Cardiff Glamorgan if it still existed, saying it was in South Glamorgan during this time would have only, technically, been incorrect. However, if you’d lived there between 1974 and 1996, and were asking ‘which county is Cardiff in?’, you’d have been right – South Glamorgan was the administrative county that the city now found itself within.
Funnily enough, technically, you’d still be correct; South Glamorgan still exists as a preserved county. This means that, for lieutenancy purposes, Cardiff is still seen as a part of it. Basically, if any local residents receive a knock on the door by someone attempting to raise an army, it’d probably be safe to assume that the person knocking is representing South Glamorgan and the county for Cardiff!
Formed after the Local Government Act of 1972, the county incorporated what is known today as the Vale of Glamorgan, as well as the city of Cardiff. St Mellons, now part of Monmouthshire, also managed to creep within its county borders.
With such significant changes occurring to county boundaries in South Wales down the years, ideas over what constitutes a ‘Glamorgan’ or ‘South Walian’ identity is likely to have changed. What hasn’t changed, however, is the intense local rivalry between Cardiff and Swansea. The two Universities compete every year in a range of sports for the Welsh Varsity, whilst the South Wales derby is one of the fiercest local football derbies in Britain.
The future for Cardiff, Wales
So, what does the future hold for Cardiff city?
Well, with such considerable growth in population each year, especially when compared to the rest of Wales, who knows? 30% of population growth in Wales now occurs there, with growth occurring so rapidly that a new ‘garden city’ has been proposed to the west. If it continues to expand at such an astronomical rate, surely new residents will inevitably end up living in homes that are an extension of the city but built in neighbouring counties? Take Cardiff Bay, for instance, if development continues there, Penarth may soon be swallowed up by the cities’ rapidly expanding population. Perhaps this will prompt another redrawing of Southern Wales county barriers.
With plans for a metro system also being announced, Cardiff and the rest of Southern Wales could soon become closer connected. Is this the beginning of a Caerdydd uwch (Greater Cardiff)?!
What is it that people like so much about Cardiff City and Cardiff county?
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Cardiff county settings, Cardiff continues to enjoy an enviable reputation, being rated as the top place to visit in Wales on Trip Advisor. And for most locals, they are unaffected by such debate. ’Kahdiff’ is their home and, for many, that’s all that matters. They can only laugh at questions like, ‘is Cardiff in England?’, or ‘Cardiff is in which country?’.
Sure enough, the status of the town as a vibrant and diverse metropolis is not up for debate. With two Universities and 20% of its population made up of students, Cardiff is one of the most education-oriented cities in the UK. Hosting past celebrations of the city’s established African and Arab communities too, the School of Welsh at Cardiff University is the oldest Welsh department in Wales and works relentlessly to develop the language and Welsh identity.
With its impressive range of parks, art pieces and museums, Cardiff city provides an eclectic mixture of culture for locals and tourists alike. The home of Welsh Rugby, The Principality Stadium, is a cauldron of noise, providing spine-tingling entertainment to spectators.
And, if you were going to study Cardiffian identity, you can be almost certain a love of rugby would come up time and time again.
Double glazing in Cardiff, Swansea and throughout South Wales
We’ve been trading in the South of Wales, including the wider Cardiff county area, for over 25 years. Over this time we’ve built up an outstanding local reputation and gained extensive local knowledge. We offer only the highest quality home improvement products at Falcon, including efficient double and triple glazed windows, secure doors and bespoke conservatories.
Our Bridgend showroom is conveniently located for Cardiff homeowners, so take a visit to see examples of our home installations or speak to a member of our experienced team about how we can improve your Cardiff home.