The History of the East Bute Dock
In 1794, the Glamorganshire Canal was completed, linking Cardiff with Merthyr, and establishing Cardiff as a worldwide exporter of iron and coal. Increasing campaigning for proper dock facilities led the 2nd Marquess of Bute to promote the construction of the West Bute Dock, opened in October 1839.
From the 1850s coal replaced iron as the industrial foundation of South Wales and exports reached 2 million tons as early as 1862, with the East Bute dock opening in 1859 to meet this increasing demand. Fully completed in 1860, the East Dock was 4,300 feet in length, 500 wide and up to 31 feet deep.
By 1913 exports had risen to 10,700,000 tons. By the time of the opening of the Roath Dock in 1887 and the Queen Alexandra Dock in 1907, coal exports from Cardiff totaled nearly 9 million tons per annum, much of it exported in the holds of locally-owned tramp steamers.
In 1909 the first million-pound cheque was signed at the nearby coal exchange, but sixty years later however, the decline in the coal and steel industries in South Wales had a devastating effect on Cardiff’s docks.
By 1987 only 3 of the original 5 docks remained operational and the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was set up in April 1987, charged with the regeneration of 2,700 acres of South Cardiff and Penarth - the old docklands area of the city.
The Wharf was built, and opened in 1990 forming part of the Atlantic Wharf development on the East Bute Dock. This was one of the first phases of the Cardiff Bay development and signified the beginning of a new era for the Docks area of Cardiff.