In Cardiff, on 20th December 1955, crowds gathered at the City Hall in Cathays Park to hear the news that Cardiff had officially become the capital city of Wales. One day earlier, this decision had been announced in Parliament at Westminster in London. Cardiff had received its City Charter in 1905 and now 50 years later, in 1955, it had become the Capital City of Wales.
Cardiff's Lord Mayor, Frank Chapman, described the event as a "great honour", and a culmination of a 30-year campaign for capital city status.
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Why was Cardiff chosen?
In 1955, Cardiff was the largest city in Wales, with a population of 243,632. The city had grown rapidly since becoming a key port for the exporting of iron in the early 1800s, then a coal port, handling most of the coal mined in the south Wales valleys.
But there were fears that the city would not be able to accurately represent Welsh culture and Welsh life, in contrast to main contender Caernarfon. Cardiff made its claim to be capital based on its long history associated with Coal and the fact that Cardiff had such a diverse population comprised of many different ethic groupings. The amount of work and investment in the City allowed it grow faster than other Welsh towns and cities, which brought more and more people to Cardiff.
The Vote to Decide
The decision was made by an official ballot of Welsh local authority members, which Cardiff won with 136 votes, compared to Caernarfon's 11 and Aberystwyth's four. Caernarfon, Machynlleth, Aberystwyth, Llandrindod Wells and Swansea had all been involved in the fiercely contested race. When the local authority Cardiganshire decided to support Cardiff and not Aberystwyth, the momentum swung to Cardiff which became the eventual winner.
Cardiff City - Capital of Wales in the 21st Century
Wales has a history spanning many thousands of years, but in all that time did not have a capital city. Today Cardiff is the youngest and most dynamic, non-purpose-built Capital City in Europe. It is a great place to visit and the ideal base from which to explore the coast, culture and heritage of Wales, western Britain, and neighbouring Europe.
The City has successfully hosted many major events, including World Class Rugby, FA Cup and Olympic Football, Test Match Cricket, the massive Admiral sponsored annual 'Cardiff Festival', Mardi Gras, The National Eisteddfod of Wales (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru), musical concerts both in the stadium and the Motorpoint Arena, and Presidential visits. The Sci-Fi programs Torchwood and Doctor Who were filmed in the City, as well as the Welsh drama 'Caerdydd".
The docklands and overcrowded district famously known as Tiger Bay, has now regenerated into Cardiff Bay. Ships and railways exporting coal, iron, and tin, mined from the valleys in the north, have now been replaced by cafés, shops, hotels, and apartments. Residents and visitors can look forward to all kinds of entertainment and relaxation. More importantly, wildlife has begun to thrive again in the cleaner waters.