The marina occupies part of Penarth dock, opened in 1865 as an alternative to Cardiff’s cramped facilities for export of coal. The photo (right) shows the dock under construction. By 1876 the dock boasted 11 coal tippers, four ballast cranes (for removing the stone which weighed down empty incoming ships) and a 10-ton crane. The operation was so slick that railway wagons could be emptied in the morning, returned to the colliery and emptied at Penarth dock later the same day.
Penarth's population, just 105 in 1851, grew to 3,000 by 1871 as a result of the dock’s development. The dock passed into the hands of the Great Western Railway in the 1920s but closed in 1936, a casualty of the Great Depression.
Three years later, as the Second World War began, the dock was ugpraded for handling naval and military stores and equipment. Large dummy loads were sometimes loaded into large ships to fool enemy aircrew. In 1944 the US Navy took over part of the port, and at one time the dock held 56 landing craft. About 20 coastal steamers set off from Penarth for the D-Day landings (when the Allies began to recapture Nazi-occupied France).
During the war 2.4 million tons of coal and coke (a coal-derived fuel, mainly for steelmaking) were despatched through Penarth. Coal exports continued until 1960. Penarth dock closed to commercial shipping in 1963, and the dock was sold to Associated British Ports in 1971. The dock silted up and fell into dereliction. Its western half was used as a municipal refuse tip.
In 1985 Crest Nicholson began constructing Penarth marina, which opened two years later. Since 2000 the marina has opened onto a vast lagoon, a popular place for leisure boating. This was formed by completion of the Cardiff Bay Barrage across the mouths of the Taff and Ely rivers.
Postcode: CF64 1TQ