From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Barry (WelshY Barri pronounced [ə ˈbarɪ]) is a town in the Vale of GlamorganWales, on the north coast of the Bristol Channel approximately 9 miles (14 km) south-southwest of Cardiff. Barry is a seaside resort, with attractions including several beaches the resurrected Barry Island Pleasure Park. According to Office for National Statistics 2016 estimate data, the population of Barry was 54,673.

Once a small village, Barry has absorbed its larger neighbouring villages of Cadoxton and Barry Island, and now, Sully. It grew significantly from the 1880s with the development of Barry Docks, which in 1913 was the largest coal port in the world. The place was possibly named after Saint Baruc.[2]


Early history

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The area now occupied by Barry has seen human activity in many periods of history. Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age microlith flint tools have been found at Friars Point on Barry Island and near Wenvoe[3] and Neolithic or New Stone Age polished stone axe-heads were discovered in St. Andrews Major.[4] A cinerary urn (pottery urn buried with cremation ashes) was found on Barry Island during excavations of Bronze Age barrows[5][6] and two more were found in a barrow at Cold Knap Point.[7] A large defended enclosure or Iron Age promontory hillfort was located at the Bulwarks at Porthkerry[8] and there was evidence of the existence of an early Iron Age farmstead during construction of Barry College off Colcot Road.[9]

In Roman times farmsteads existed on the site of Barry Castle and Biglis and there were verbal reports of discovery of a cemetery including lead coffins with scallop-shell decoration.

Both St. Baruc’s Chapel and St. Nicholas Church have re-used Roman bricks and tiles incorporated in their building fabric[10] and a Roman villa was discovered in Llandough.[11] 

In 1980 a Roman building consisting of 22 rooms and cellars in four ranges around a central courtyard was excavated at Glan-y-môr and is believed to be a third-century building associated with naval activity, maybe a supply depot.[12]

The Vikings launched raids in the area and Barry Island was known to be a raider base in 1087.[13] Flat Holm and Steep Holm islands in the Bristol Channel have their name Holm name derived from a Scandinavian word for an island in an estuary. The excavation of the Glan-y-môr site revealed the site had been reused in the 6th and 7th century and also between AD 830 and 950 as a dry stone sub-rectangular building with a turf or thatched roof.[10]

Medieval Barry

The main feature of the area at this time was the island in the Bristol Channel, separated from the mainland by a tidal estuary. It is described in Giraldus Cambrensis or Gerald of Wales’ Itinerarium Cambriae (“Journey through Wales”, 1191). He states that Barry derives its name from St. Baruc whose remains are deposited in a chapel on the island. The local noble family who owned the island and the adjoining estates took the name of de Barri from the island.[14]

Following the Norman conquest of England the area was divided into manors with the Barry area split into two large lordshipsPenmark and Dinas Powys.

Penmark was split into the sub-manors of Fonmon, West Penmark and Barry. Dinas Powys was split into the sub-manors of Cadoxton and Uchelolau (Highlight).[15] The sub-manor of Barry was granted by the de Umfraville family to the de Barri family and the seat of the manor was Barry Castle, located on high ground overlooking the Bristol Channel, a site occupied in Roman times by a native homestead.[16]

 The castle was a small fortified manor house, built to replace an earlier earthwork. By the late 13th century the castle had two stone buildings on the east and west sides of a courtyard. Early in the 14th century the castle was strengthened by the addition of a large hall and gatehouse on its south side, the ruins of which are all that survive today.

By now Barry had grown into a village and port with its own church and watermill but in the 14th century its population was drastically reduced by the Black Death and the consequences of the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr.[17] 

It took the population some 300 years to recover and once more hold the title of village, essentially a sparsely populated area with a few scattered farms and much of the land a marsh that a small river flowed through.[18] 

By 1622 the pattern of fields, where enclosure was almost complete, around Barry village was pretty much as it was to remain until the growth of the modern town. According to the 1673 Hearth-Tax list the parish contained thirteen houses.

Whitehouse Cottage, the oldest existing inhabited house in modern Barry, dates from the late 1500s with the east end of the building added in around 1600. It overlooks the sea at Cold Knap.[19]

Industrial history

Further information: Barry Docks

The viaduct at Porthkerry Park was once crossed many times daily by rail transporting coal down from the Welsh valleys north of Bridgend

By 1871 the population of Barry was over 100, with 21 buildings, the new estate-owning Romilly family being involved in the buildup of the village but it remained a largely agricultural community.[10][20] 

It grew when it was developed as a coal port in the 1880s. The coal trade was growing faster than the facilities at Tiger Bay in Cardiff ever could and so a group of colliery owners formed the Barry Railway Company and chose to build the docks at Barry. Work commenced in 1884 and the first dock basin was opened in 1889 to be followed by two other docks and extensive port installations.

The Barry Railway brought coal down from the South Wales Valleys to the new docks whose trade grew from one million tons in the first year, to over nine million tons by 1903. The port was crowded with ships and had flourishing ship repair yards, cold stores, flour mills and an ice factory. By 1913, Barry was the largest coal exporting port in the world.

Barry Docks

Behind the docks rose the terraced houses of Barry which, with Cadoxton, soon formed a sizeable town. The railways which had played a major part in the development of the dock helped make Barry Island a popular resort. Barry Memorial Hall on Gladstone Road was inaugurated in November 1932, and obtained its name to honour those locals who lost their lives in World War I.[21]

During its industrial peak a number of ships sank off the Barry coast.

Barry Scrapyard

Following the rise of diesel and electric power on the UK railways, the marshalling yards at Barry Docks became the largest repository of steam engines awaiting scrapping in the UK. 

Dai Woodham owned the Woodham Brothers Scrap yard and he allowed rail preservation organisations to buy back the locomotives at the scrap value, allowing around 200 of the 300 locomotives to be saved for future generations, although during the years of storage many were vandalised or looted by souvenir hunters.

When interviewed just before his death, Woodham was reluctant to take full credit for this and pointed out that the town of Barry with its redundant sidings was the major factor in allowing these locomotives to be saved.


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