Among the old written versions of this street name are Gollgate 1440, Gallgate by 1748, Gollyate 1750 and Gullate 1779. The first element comes from the Middle English goule, gole (ditch or channel) which is also in names like Goole (Gulle in 1362),Yorkshire, and Gull, Huntingdon. This could be linked to the Old French goule, which has the same name.
The name’s second element is gate (Old English: geat) which originaly meant a gap or hole – rather than the thing which filled it – in a wall, fence, bank etc. Colloquially it appeared as yat(t), iet(t) in Middle English (as in Symond’s Yat). This is visible in the early forms of Golate, with the “g” turning into “y” and then being omitted to give Golate.
Therefore, what was here initially was a ditch or stream cutting its way down to the river Taff, which then flowed roughly where Westgate Street now runs. In a medieval town, it was probably full of filth but also (like many similar ditches in the Middle Ages) developed into a wet and slippery path. John Speed called Golate Frog Lane on his1610 map of Cardiff. In Welsh it’s still known as Y Gwter (the gutter).
Despite its unsavoury nature, Golate was a convenient way to reach ships at the old quay. This may explain the popular belief among Cardiffians that Golate signifies a route where late passengers could “go late” to catch ships which had already departed from a quay further north.
In the 19th century the local authority added Street to Golate. This was followed by an intention, by 1874, to pave the street – completed by 1887.
With thanks to Professor Gwynedd Pierce, of the Welsh Place-Name Society, and to Remploy at Golate Court for hosting the QR codes
Postode: CF10 1EU