I was approached by The Harbour Authority to work on a very cool new project, creating a mural to pay homage to the old historical Ely Subway. This was a pedestrian tunnel that ran from what is now Plas Pamir, beneath the River Ely to the area where Cardiff Bay Yacht Club now stands. It was a thoroughfare linking both banks of the river – allowing pedestrians, including hundreds of sailors and dockworkers, to cross the Ely without negotiating the muddy river banks and taking the chain ferry.
Ive read lots old stories about this Subway whilst doing research for the project, it was opened in 1900 and used until 1936. It was then re-opened for use as an air-raid shelter during the Second World War and for dock operations when Penarth Docks were taken over by the US Navy in the run-up to D Day. Both entrances were finally bricked up in 1963.
An awesome bit or relatively unknown history of Cardiff’s Bay area and Penarth, this was a fun project to work on. I looked at old images of ships and the docks, and also used an old photograph showing a worker leaving the tunnel for the main central piece in the mural. A number of old timers stopped to talk of their own memories of the tunnel, which was great to hear first hand experiences of the subject.
You never know… one day there may be murals of long forgotten landmarks that we all take for granted in our everyday life, wherever we reside.