Timeline of Key Acts and Events

Here are some of the key acts and events in the history of Cardiff Docks.

Year Key Acts and/or Events
1822 The second marquess of Bute has the idea of building docks on his lands at Cardiff in order to facilitate the exploitation of the vast mineral wealth of the South Wales coalfield
1828 James Green, an eminent canal engineer, submits a report on the docks scheme
1829 Thomas Telford revises Green’s plans and a Bill is prepared for presentation to Parliament
1830 A bill is presented to Parliament based on Telford’s alterations, and despite opposition from the Glamorganshire Canal Company, the Monmouthshire Canal Company and the Melingriffith Works, the Bute Ship Canal Act receives Royal Assent in July 1830
1833 The marquess of Bute is unsure about the plans for the docks.  He prepares a revised bill based on changes to the plans by William Cubbitt 
1834 The amending Bute Ship Canal Act is passed and work commences on the new docks in December 1834
1839 The completed dock opened on 8 October 1839.  The event was marked with great festivities at Cardiff, to the marquess of Bute’s great delight
1848 The second marquess of Bute dies at Cardiff on 18 March 1848
1851 The freighters of Cardiff petition the Bute trustees to construct a new dock
1851 John Rennie and John Plews prepare a report on the proposed new dock
1852 The Bute Trustees commit to the construction of a new dock at a cost of £193,284
1855 The first stage of the East Bute Dock opens in June 1855
1856 The tidal harbour east of the East Bute Dock opens in August 1856
1858 The second stage of East Bute Dock opens in January 1858
1859 The final stage of East Bute Dock opens in September 1859
1864 Under great pressure to expand the docks, the Bute Trustees apply to Parliament for permission to build a new dock at an estimated cost of £1.2 million.  Parliament refuse to sanction the expenditure of such a large sum upon the estate of a minor
1865 Rival docks open at Penarth in 1865.  In the same year a second application to Parliament by the Bute Trustees is rejected
1866 Parliamentary permission to build a new basin is granted (Bute Docks Act 1866) but permission to build a new dock is again refused on the grounds that, as the third marquess was approaching maturity, he should be consulted before such a large expenditure is undertaken
1868 Construction of the Roath Basin commences
1874 The Roath Basin opens for trade in July 1874.  A deputation calls upon the trustees to urge them to extend the docks, and they obtain powers to build a new dock adjoining Roath Basin (Bute Docks Act 1874)
1882 Bute Docks Act 1882
1886 Bute Docks Act (Further Powers) 1886
1887 The new Roath Dock is ready for service in August 1887
1888 Bute Docks Act 1888
1889 The rival Barry Docks open for business in July 1889
1894 Despite strong opposition by rival docks, the Bute Docks Act 1894 is passed, granting permission for a new dock with a lock gate able to take even the largest vessels, to be constructed on 320 acres of land reclaimed from the foreshore
1907 The new dock, the Queen Alexandra Dock, is opened.  It is the largest masonry dock in the world.  This marks the end of the expansion of the Bute Docks