Ely, Cardiff

Ely, Cardiff

Ely (Welsh Trelai "tref" town + "Elai" River Ely) is a suburb primarily dominated by council housing in western Cardiff, Wales. Ely is believed to be the largest council estate area in Europe Fact|date=April 2008.


In Roman times, Ely was the site of a Roman villa. There is also thought to have been a Roman road near the site linking to Cardiff Roman Fort and eastwards to Newport. [ [http://www.romans-in-britain.org.uk/map_counties_roads_towns_cardiff.htm] Romans in Britain: Roman roads near Cardiff]

In 1855, the first horse race took place at Ely Racecourse, which took over from the Great Heath racecourse. [http://www.cardiffians.co.uk/timeline.html Cardiffians.co.uk Cardiff Timeline]

The Ordnance Survey map from the early 1880s shows just how isolated the ancient Ely village was from the rest of Cardiff. Reports about travelling along the main road over Ely common to Cardiff talk of pot holes and no shelter and a terrible journey on foot.

The 'Ely Industrial School' was home to orphaned children originally from Cardiff. The school was demolished some years later and an infectious diseases isolation unit was built on the same site. Most of Ely was still farmland feeding Cardiff's population. A railway station had only recently been constructed, and gave the surrounding area further potential for mass housing development.

On the maps you can see the Ely Industrial school marked on the Cowbridge Rd (Cowbridge Road East). It had been set up to accommodate "pauper children" from 1863. It was very much a product of the Victorian Age, and Workhouse mentality, increased social awareness and responsibility saw it closing in 1903 and converted to additional workhouse accommodation for adults (though never used for that purpose), known as Ely Lodge. The children lived in what became as Ely Homes. [ [] . Millbank Primary History.]

The map also shows Ely Racecourse, who's grandstand was destroyed in a fire in 1937 and was then closed in 1939.

The land was once owned by the Earl of Plymouth, who dictated that alcohol may not be sold on the land. As a result, like other plots of land with similar conditions (including the Manselton area of Swansea), the boundaries of the old estate can be approximated by the locations of public houses around the area.

To attract business from nearby areas, establishments would be built as close to it as possible without actually being in Ely (local establishments are actually in Caerau and Fairwater).

Ely's rapid expansion of housing began in the 1920s to provide 'homes fit for heroes' after World War I. This came with the construction of council houses to rehouse people from Cardiff's inner-city slums.

The area is widely considered to be one of Cardiff's worst areas in terms of crime and standard of living. But the residents of Ely are keen to dispel this reputation, citing the fact it is a very large, close knit community. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast/sites/cardiff_elfordroad/] . BBC Website.]

The area was scarred by rioting and petrol bombing during 1991 when shops and houses were burned down by angry mobs. See Ely Petrol Riots.


Cowbridge Road West (the A48) is the predominant road running through Ely as it runs on to Canton and Cardiff city centre to the east, and to Culverhouse Cross interchange to the west. The parallel Grand Avenue links Cowbridge Road West to the northern estates of Ely. Ely features several shopping parades, notably on Wilson Road as well as Grand Avenue.

Ely is served by Cardiff Bus' "Capital City Red Route" bus services 17 and 18 using articulated buses which operate every 10 minutes from Central Station via Canton and Caerau. North Ely is also served by services 12 and 13 which terminate westbound at Culverhouse Cross and eastbound in Tremorfa.

The nearest station, which is accessible via Birdies Lane or Cowbridge Road, is Waun-Gron Park in Fairwater.

Public Houses

There are several pubs in the Ely area, such as The Bridge Inn, on Ely Bridge, Cowbridge Road. And there are numerous social clubs, such as Ely Social and Sports Club (near Ely bridge), the Ely Royal Air Force Association (on Riverside Terrace in Lower Ely), and Cardiff West End Social Club (near the bottom of Wilson road.)


Primary schools in Ely include:
* [http://trelaiprm.cardiff.sch.uk Trelai Primary School]
* [http://www.millbankprimary.co.uk Millbank Primary School]
* Windsor Clive Junior School
* Herbert Thompson School on Plymouthwood Road
* Hywel Dda (considered best school football team of the century)
* Saint Francis RC primary school.

High Schools in Ely include:
* Michaelston Community College
* Mary Immaculate High School.

Youth Centres in Ely include:
*North Ely YC (northelyyc@cardiff.gov.uk) on Pethybridge Road
*Dusty Forge Project on Cowbridge Road West

Famous people from Ely

* Shakin' Stevens, singer who enjoyed the height of his fame in the 1980s.
* Steve Robinson (born 13 December 1968 Cardiff, Wales) WBO Featherweight boxer.
* Ryan Giggs prolific footballer for Manchester United, also a long serving one club player
* Nicky Piper, super middleweight and light heavyweight boxer.

Electoral ward

The electoral ward of Ely falls within the parliamentary constituency of Cardiff West. It is bounded by Fairwater and Gabalfa to the northwest; Caerau to the south (although some of Lower Ely is technically in the electoral ward of Caerau, as is Trelai (Ely) Park); Culverhouse Cross to the west; and the Vale of Glamorgan to the southwest.

Ely/Caerau confusion

The Ely electoral ward consists of the area north of Cowbridge Road, while the Caerau elecoral ward consists of the area south of Cowbridge Road. However, most residents consider the entire area to be Ely, with Caerau being a subsection of the Ely area.


External links

* [http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=51.47552&lon=-3.25034&zoom=15&layers=B000FTF OpenStreetMap map of the Ely area. Includes schools, pubs, etc.]
* [http://www.journalism.cf.ac.uk/2007/online/index.php?id=parse-195-0-0-251&article=607&author=Joe+Shute A Cardiff University insight into youth and rap culture in Ely]
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=2774238 www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Ely and surrounding area]

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