Waterloo Gardens, Roath, Cardiff
Roath Brook is significant in the history of Waterloo Gardens. It flows through the park, separating the strip at the north end from the rest.
Lord Tredegar offered the wedge of land north of St Margaret’s Church to Cardiff Corporation for free in 1895 – on condition it was used for a public open space. The project suffered setbacks, including a pause while the brook was diverted so that a road could be built over its old course.
In 1908 some councillors were concerned at the £1,120 cost of laying out Waterloo Gardens, but the expenditure was approved after councillor Jabez Jones highlighted the health benefits of open spaces in dense urban areas. He said Cardiff’s death rate had improved to 14 per 1,000 inhabitants, down from 29 in 1879. That period saw many patches of land set aside for green spaces as Cardiff’s population grew rapidly.
Cardiff had 700 registered unemployed people by the end of 1908, rising to over 1,500 by early 1910. Some were given jobs to do in parks. The workers who laid out Waterloo Gardens were on the register.
By the Second World War, Waterloo Gardens included a grass tennis court, a public shelter and a caretaker’s hut. A footbridge over the brook connected the park’s sections.
Roath Brook, also known as Nant y Dderwen Deg (Fair Oak Stream), flows in a green corridor from Roath Park to Waterloo Gardens, passing the recreation ground, Roath Mill Gardens and other open spaces. Here it was altered in the early 1930s to alleviate flood risk. A new northern channel was excavated but the old one remained. The northern part of the park became a narrow island, accessed by footbridges over both channels.
As the frequency of severe weather events increased in the 21st century, the brook needed further alterations to reduce flood risk. Natural Resources Wales installed piled riverbanks and the 1930s channel was filled in. The work finished in 2018.
The scars of the construction site gave way to new planting, and in 2021 Waterloo Gardens received the Green Flag award for the first time. The award recognises best practice in management of open spaces.
Postcode: CF23 5AD View Location Map