Llanishen, Cardiff

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Welsh: Llanisien
Grid reference: ST176818
Location: 51°31’45"N, 3°11’21"W
Post town: Cardiff
Dialling code: 029
Local Government
Council: Cardiff
Cardiff North

Llanishen is a village of Glamorgan long since become a suburb of Cardiff. Llanishen is best known as the home of the Tax Offices, the tallest buildings in north Cardiff and a landmark for miles around. The office complex overlooks the 'Crystal and Fishguard estates', Parc Ty Glas industrial estate, old village, leafy suburban roads and various parkland that constitute the district. Llanishen is also home to a fully featured Leisure Centre and the 60 acre Llanishen Reservoir, a local beauty spot that is connected to a green corridor which bisects the city from the rising hills in the north to Cardiff Bay in the south.

The village name is from the Welsh Llanisien, meaning "Church of Isien" (St Isan).


Originally wooded farm land, in 535 two monks came eastwards from the small monastic settlement of Llandaff, aiming to establish new settlements, or "llans", in the land below Caerphilly mountain. With fresh water from the Nant Fawr stream, one of the monks Isan founded his llan on the site of the modern day Oval Park.

In 1089 in the Battle of the Heath, the Normans fought the Welsh north of the village. The victorious Normans expanded Llanishen, starting work on a church to the north which was completed in the 12th century.

The village lay quiet in succeeding centuries. Oliver Cromwell, whose family name began as Williams, had familial ties with Llanishen and the neighbouring village of Lisvane, but it was not affected for good or ill by this distant tie when Cromwell, a Huntingdonshire man himself, burst forth upon the kingdom.

The village remained undisturbed until 1871, when the Rhymney Railway was given permission to break the stranglehold of the Taff Vale Railway into Cardiff Docks. Building a line from Caerphilly to Crockherbtown Junction just north of Cardiff Queen Street, its 1½ mile tunnel to the north resulted in a number of accidental deaths, many of whom are buried in St Isans church.

The railway and the development of Llanishen railway station allowed wealthy Cardiff businessmen to commute from the village to the centre of city easily, resulting in the expansion of the village's population by 20,000 between 1851 and 1871. In 1887, the two new reservoirs of Llanishen were built to allow distribution of water collected in the Brecon Beacons to the city. In 1922, after expansion north by the city and south by the village, Llanishen became a suburb of Cardiff.

Development of the village since has been through redevelopment of the former farming and military land into commercial usage and housing development.

Commerce and Industry

ROF Cardiff

The First World War, like in many locations, brought death to the young men of the village, but the Second World War brought greater impact. With the development of ROF Bridgend, a Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Cardiff, was developed along Ty Glas Road to take the explosives from Bridgend and produce tank and anti-tank guns. Air defences against paratroopers were placed in nearby fields, but this was strengthened in 1941 when the Royal Air Force established both a RAF Regiment base and a glider training facility. In 1943 the United States Army began using the facilities to hold troops and undertake local training, including basic flight in Tiger Cubs. The Americans left in June 1944 as the Allies prepared for D-Day. In 1987 ROF Cardiff became an Atomic Weapons Establishment. It closed down in February 1997.

ROF Cardiff since closure has become the site of major housing development: George Wimpey called theirs 'Parklands', Barratt built 'Ty Glas Square' and Leadbitter built 'Llys Enfys', with Bellway and Persimmon/Charles Church creating even more housing between the AWE site and the HMRC building. The site will also host a new public open space, the final element to be constructed (2010), to include children's play area, sports pitch and community garden. The George Wimpey development has been named 'Watkins Square' and the Barratt development 'Tasker Square', after the famous Victoria Cross winner Sir Tasker Watkins, who died during 2007.

Parc Ty Glas Industrial Estate

HM Government buildings

Parc Ty Glas is home to the offices of S4C (the national television station for Wales) and the National Eisteddfod of Wales. HM Revenue and Customs occupies a 16-storey tower block (Phase 2) plus some of the 11-storey Gleider House (Phase 1) in a complex of HM Government offices,[1] employing more than 2,700 staff on site in late 2007[2] (mainly Revenue division — including an enquiry centre, or IREC). In 2003, a retail complex of six stores was built, occupied by several large national retail chains.

Other offices

The Orchards complex, formerly the site of the National Coal Board's regional office,[1] houses the offices of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales,[3] the Welsh Assembly Government's Department for Rural Affairs,[4] and the Welsh office of the Camelot Group, operators of the National Lottery.[5]


Cardiff Sailing Centre

Cardiff Sailing Centre (Llanishen Sailing Centre)[6] is one of Wales' foremost sailing schools teaching sailing, windsurfing and powerboating, and enjoys an international reputation.[7][8] The centre currently operates all its courses in Cardiff Bay due to the drain down, however it still has buildings at the reservoir should they be able to return.

Llanishen and Lisvane Reservoirs

Two non-functional reservoirs (the smaller Lisvane Reservoir is adjoined to Llanishen Reservoir). Llanishen Reservoir forms the end of a Victorian water supply system stretching from the Brecon Beacons to Cardiff and has recently become a listed structure.

The reservoir had been under threat from an American-led commercial development for domestic housing, where the proposed houses would be built around a reduced lake. But the listing plus the designation of a Site of Special Scientific Interest for grassland fungi on the embankments of the reservoir, will make it very difficult for a developer to gain building permission. Locals are campaigning to make the area a registered village green.[9][10]

Llanishen Rugby Club

The playing ground and large training ground of Llanishen RFC is off Usk Road, and has been used in the past by visiting international rugby union teams. The Club House is off Ty Glas Avenue nearby.[11]

Outside links