SEASONAL GUIDE PORTHKERRY
SPRING IN PORTHKERRY COUNTRY PARK
WINTER: THE HISTORY OF PORTHKERRY COUNTRY PARK
EXTRACTS FROM TAKEN FROM WIKIPEDIA with references to other sources
The hamlet of Porthkerry (Welsh: Porthceri) lies on the Bristol Channel coast of South Wales within the community of Rhoose between that village and the town of Barry to the east. It is very close to the end of the runway of Cardiff International Airport. To the east of the hamlet is Porthkerry Country Park which occupies the valley leading down to the coast.
Porthkerry Country Park is a large, public country park nearby, between the hamlet of Porthkerry and Barry, in a valley with a pathway leading down to the Bristol Channel at The Bulwarks.
The land was acquired by the Romilly family in 1412 to build a country house, and cottages, stables and a sawmill for local workers. Cliff Wood Mill was in use for a period but it believed to have been destroyed during the Glyndwr revolt in the early 15th century. The remains of it are a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Cliff Wood Cottage was originally built in 1583 by Owen Williams and fully rebuilt in the early 1790s. It was once the residence of a woman believed to be a witch, Ann Jenkins.
The park was fully landscaped by the Romilly family in the 1840s, and they sold it to Barry Urban District Council in 1929. The park was occupied by British and American forces during World War II in the approach to D-Day, and earthworks and defences were built along the coast.
The park is particularly noted for the sixteen arch Porthkerry Viaduct crossed by a railway that served as a transportation for coal from the South Wales Valleys to the port in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Built in the late 1890s, the viaduct has sixteen arches which vary between 45 and 50 feet (15 metres) in width and rising to a height of 110 feet (33 metres). It became Grade II listed in 1963. The former Egerton Grey Country House Hotel lies near the viaduct. The house was originally built in the 17th century and functioned a rectory for some time.
On the northern side of Porthkerry Park there was a small hamlet named Cwmcidi (meaning Valley of the Black Dog in Welsh). It first appeared in the mid 13th century and by 1622 had five houses and several farm buildings, but by 1812, only three cottages and a farmhouse remained. The cottages were demolished in the 1840s by the Romilly family when Porthkerry Park was landscaped.
The name – although slightly anglicised – lives on in the area, in the form of a nearby public house, The Cwm Ciddy. An area of the park known as Cwm Barri, along the main approach road, was used for farming and contains a woodland of about 1.3 hectares with hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, ash and sycamore trees alongside Barry Brook. The brook flows into a pond at Fishponds Hill, near the main road. Cwm Barri Cottage was built in around 1845 to house the park warden but was demolished in 1972; all that remains is a low boundary wall and fruit trees in the woodland which were once part of the cottage garden.