Roath Park stands in a beautiful location at the centre of this busy capital city - a stunning sight at day and night. The park still retains the classic Victorian Park atmosphere where local inhabitants and visitors alike can enjoy their leisure time in many different pursuits.
Although sections of the land was sold by the Tredegar, Clark, Morgan and Jackson families much of the land was owned and donated by the Marquess of Bute to the then Cardiff Corporation in 1887 in return for the building of roadways around the park. This was a mutually beneficial arrangement as the people of Cardiff acquired their park and the Marquess was able to develop the surrounding land.
The Butes were a well known family who exported coal and owned large areas of land in South Wales. A tradition of land donation was begun which has made an enormous contribution to public ownership of open space and parkland in the city.
Covering in all an area of 52 hectares (130 acres) the lake alone is nearly 12 hectares (30 acres) and was excavated by hand. Land here was originally poor, wet scrubland and was described as a 'malarial bog' at the time of purchase. Construction of the park cost a total of £63,000.
Mr W W Pettigrew was appointed Head Gardener of the Public Parks and Open Spaces to work closely with the Borough Engineer to plan the park. Construction of the dam and roads was completed in 1891 together with work on the diversion of the brook and the formation of the Recreation ground by contractors Logan and Hemingway. Cardiff Naturalists Society were involved in the planting of the Botanic Garden which was completed during the winter of 1894/95. Many of the plants and seeds were donated by staff at Kew Gardens with whom Pettigrew had close connections.
On 20 June 1894, the park was opened by the Earl of Dumfries - son of the Marquess of Bute. The date was chosen to celebrate the Earl's 13th birthday. The opening ceremony was a very grand affair with a civic lunch for 300 followed by a carriage procession from the Town Hall to the Park attended by local dignitaries.
Why not pay a visit to Roath Park Conservatory. See the variety of plants growing there and the wildlife that have made the conservatory their home. Feed the fish and listen to the whistling ducks. If you have any questions about the plants growing in the conservatory or if you need advice about plants in your own home or garden have a word with the Botanical Assistant.
Not long after the Park was opened, there are reports of the popualrity of ice skating so much so that occasionally official closing times for the Park were waived and people skating far into the night and early morning was commonplace. Skating became so popular that a plan was proposed to flood part of the Recreation Ground in winter. However, since the Second World War, skating has only been possible on a few occasions.