A Short History of Porthkerry, Park and Viaduct and its association with the Lodge.
Porthkerry Park is a large, public country park on the coast between Barry and Porthkerry in the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales. It has fields, extensive woodland and nature trails, cliff-top pathways, a pebble-stone beach, and a small golf course. Architecturally, it is noted for its prominent viaduct crossed by a railway that served as a transportation for coal from the South Wales Valleys to the port of Barry in the 19th and 20th centuries.
With the combination of green areas and the coastal location, the park is a popular destination for local primary schools taking their pupils on trips to study nature. The Egerton Grey Country House Hotel is also located in Porthkerry. On the northern side of the park is the site of the old village at Cwmcidi (Cwm Ci Du meaning Valley of the Black Dog), which came into existence before the middle of the 13th century. In 1622, Cwmcidi contained 5 houses bordering “Comkedye Street”, interspersed with a number of tofts (dwelling sites) plus three scattered dwellings. By 1812, there remained only three cottages and a farmhouse. The cottages were finally swept away in the 1840s when the area was landscaped by the Romilly family to form Porthkerry Park. The name – although slightly anglicised – lives on in the area, in the form of a nearby public house, The Cwm Ciddy.
The most spectacular structure of the Barry Railway was the viaduct in Porthkerry Park. Made of stone and with 13 arched spans of 50′ and three of 45′, it stands 110′ high and dominates the little valley that leads to the beach. There were problems due to subsidence in 1896 but this was not disclosed to the Board of Trade inspector who approved the structure. The line opened on 1st December 1897, but disaster struck on 10th January the following year when one of the piers slipped and that part of the line was closed at once. A loop line was made 2½ miles to the north, around Porthkerry Rectory and this was used while the line was repaired. The line reopened for goods trains on 8th January 1900, and for passenger trains on 9th April. The problem was due to a combination of insufficient foundations, unsuitable cement and poor workmanship. The line is still in use today, carrying coal to Aberthaw power station, a Cardiff/Bridgend branch line and all types of diverted traffic when the main Cardiff to Bridgend line is closed for maintenance.
The report on the subsidence and partial collapse of a newly constructed viaduct.
This document was published on 6th April 1898 by Board of Trade.
It was written by Lieut. Col. H. A. Yorke. “Had the sectional drawings of the bore holes furnished in October last correctly indicated the nature of the strata on which No. 13 pier was resting, it would have been my duty to have recommended the Board of Trade to refuse to sanction the opening of the line, pending an investigation into the stability of this viaduct, in place of giving provisional sanction to open subject to certain conditions. Fortunately the precautions suggested in my report and acted upon by the Company were sufficient to ensure the safety of the traffic.”
This document was kindly sourced from Office of Rail Regulation and is in our Accident reports collection. It was added to the Archive on 27th September 2010
Porthkerry, the place derives its name, signifying the port of Ceri, from its situation on a small harbour of the Bristol channel, which is entered by vessels of inconsiderable burden, for the purpose of shipping the limestone which is quarried in the neighbourhood. Ceri, (later St Curig, a 6th century Bishop) from whom the harbour received its name, was the great grandfather of the celebrated Caradog, or Caractacus; but in what respect that chieftain was connected with this place does not appear. ( A Topographical Dictionary of Wales by Samuel Lewis 1833)
When it came to selecting a suitable name, The Founders had sought one that would somehow link the Vale of Glamorgan and the town of Barry with its thriving sea-going industry. They found that link in the railway which was used for transporting coal through the Vale of Glamorgan over the large stone viaduct just outside the village of Porthkerry. Amongst the Founders of the Lodge were a goodly number of Brethren who had seen active service during World War Two. This is reflected in the choice of Lodge Motto included in the Insignia: ‘In this place will I give peace’. The central geometrical figure in the Insignia and on the Banner is a ‘versica piscis’ bearing a representation of Porthkerry Park, consisting of a green sward with trees, spanned by a viaduct, being imperfect (as it is in the actual structure) and referring to the imperfection of man’s hands. The Heavens are represented in the upper part of the figure, which also shows the ‘All Seeing Eye’ of The Great Architect of the Universe. The figure rests on a base taken from the Arms of the Borough of Barry, consisting of a representation of the waves of the sea and the pebble shore, to which has been added a ship reproduced from the Crest of Barry Lodge. The whole refers to the Lodge’s connection with the town of Barry and its seafaring activities. The encompassing ribbons are taken from the Crest of The Vale of Glamorgan Lodge and bears a Welsh dragon in the upper part, with the Lodge name and number on the base. The waves and pebble beach seem particularly apt, as we are led to believe that at one time the sea-shore was only yards from the Barry hotel and adjacent to the Masonic building.
Compiled by W Bro Malcolm Lucas PPrGswdB acknowledgements to W Bros AMM Hart, PJGD, RL Ayres PPSGD and DA Reid PPRGSuptWks from ‘The Reason Why’