Pantmawr Road roundabout
Rhiwbina is an old Glamorgan village which has become a large and prosperous northern suburb of Cardiff. Its history as a village on its own is still remembered notwithstanding that it is not contiguous with the city and the flanking suburbs; its core is still locally called "the village" and given a Welsh village appearance by Beulah United Reformed Church (originally Capel Beulah) on the village crossroads.
Some hold that the name is from the Welsh Rhiw (slope) and Beuno (St Beuno). This is, however, a folk etymology as there is no historical evidence for it. Rather, Rhiwbina is more likely to represent Rhiw and pina, the south-eastern Welsh form of standard Welsh pinau, plural of pin (pine-trees). The present English pronunciation has a penultimate diphthong, /aɪ/, as though Rhiwbina were an English word. This anglicised pronunciation has in turn become the basis of a pseudo-Welsh Rhiwbeina, which has received official recognition. A fluent Welsh dialect speaker from the area, recorded in the early 1950s, however, clearly pronounced the name with a penultimate /i:/.
Rhiwbina is bordered by the suburbs of Whitchurch to the west, Llanishen to the east, and Birchgrove to the south. To the north is Wenallt Hill, part of Cardiff's unofficial "green belt". The area is served by Rhiwbina railway station on the Coryton Line.
Rhiwbena has large number of churches and chapels including:
- Church in Wales:
- St Thomas
- All Saints
- Rhiwbina Baptist Church
- Bethany (Baptist)
- Brethren: Bethesda
- Methodist: Bethel
- United Reformed Church: Beulah
Capel Beulah (Beulah United Reformed Church) was a daughter chapel of Groeswen, Caerphilly. Although services at the church have been held in English since around 1900, Beulah named its redeveloped Assembly Rooms "Canolfan Beulah" in honour of the foundation of the chapel as a Welsh language congregation.
A Norman motte called the Twmpath rises near Rhiwbina's northernmost edge. To the north of Rhiwbina lies the steep, wooded Wenallt (750 feet) where Coed-y-Wenallt provides public open space.
Toward the end of the 11th century, the last native Welsh Prince of Glamorgan, Iestyn ap Gwrgant, was killed in a battle north of Rhiwbina, reportedly near the present day Butchers Arms Pub. Much blood was shed at the battle, and to this day the nearby stream is called Rhyd Waedlyd (Bloody Ford). Rhydwaedlyd was the title given to housing developments to Rhiwbina's east in the latter half of the 20th century. This area has since come to be considered part of Rhiwbina itself and the name 'Rhydwaedlyd' has fallen out of use entirely.
In the 1910s some streets were developed according to the ideals of the Garden city movement, including Pen-y-Dre, a half-mile-long railwayside avenue, which has the rare distinction of having two successive railway stations opening onto it. This area is still known as the Garden Village.
One of the central focal points in Rhiwbina began in the first half of the twentieth century as "Rhiwbina Tea Gardens". Owned by the Smart family, this became "Rhiwbina Motor Garages" once it became clear that motor cars were going to be big business. The garage was a landmark of the local area for decades, its notoriety increased when it became the area's first video rental outlet from the early 1980s. The retirement of Cliff Smart in 1989 led to the closure of the family business and the buildings were demolished. On its site now stands the road called Clos Yr Ardd - which translates as Gardens Close in tribute to the Tea Gardens. There are no gardens, or even much greenery left.
Rhiwbina has been the home of many noted Welsh artists including the authors Jack Jones and Kate Roberts, dramatist Tom Richards and the actress Rachel Thomas, who worked together.
Rhiwbina centre is small compared to nearby Whitchurch and Birchgrove, and consequently suffers from a lack of trade. In recent years many businesses have ceased trading in the area. However some businesses, mainly in the service sector, have managed to buck the trend and establish themselves in the centre.
To the north of Rhiwbina is a parade of shops on Heol Llanishen Fach. These were built in the 1960s to serve the vast amounts of new middle class housing built in the north of the village. Also to the north of Rhiwbina village there is the Deri Stores, a family run shop on the corner of Wenallt Road and Rhiwbeina Hill. This used to be a post office, and before this a cafe.
Rhiwbina has a quarterly magazine launched on 15 November 2007, called Rhiwbina Living. A similar publication "Wenallt" was published between 1972 and 1980 and failed due to a lack of local advertising.