Dinas Powys (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈdinas ˈpɔwɪs]; also spelt 'Dinas Powis' in English) is a large village and a community in the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales which takes its name from the ancient Welsh for stronghold, (Dinas) and pagus,(Powys) the Latin word for pagan. The literal meaning, therefore, being, "Pagan Stronghold", referring to Dinas Powys hillfort that dates from the Iron Age. The village is 5.6 miles (9.0 km) south-west of the centre of Cardiff and conveniently situated on the A4055 Cardiff to Barry main road, almost merging with Penarth. It is generally regarded as a pleasant dormitory village for Cardiff's commerce and industry commuters since the city has expanded with widespread development around the Cardiff Bay area.
A distant view of Dinas Powys
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Despite the addition of several housing developments over the past fifty years, the old village centre of Dinas Powys still has a mostly unspoiled and almost rural feel, retaining a large village common and a traditional village centre complete with a range of small independent shops, public houses, restaurants and community facilities. In addition there are shops, garages, small supermarkets, Pharmacy and a Vets on the main Cardiff Road and a selection of shops on the Murch estate including a post office . The Health Centre consisting of the doctors and Murch pharmacy relocated in April 2017 to the new Medical centre at the top of Murch Road , on the site of the old St Cyres , Dinas Powys site.
According to recent electoral rolls the population is in the region of 8,800. This establishes the village as the fifth largest settlement in the Vale of Glamorgan and larger than many chartered towns in the UK.
The Neolithic and the Middle AgesEdit
The Dinas Powys area has been populated since prehistoric times. The most ancient artifact found in the area is a Neolithic Stone Age axe-head, discovered by P. W. Brooks in 1949 and now displayed in the National Museum Cardiff. The hillfort was, in its time, considered to have great status and wealth. Indeed, in the age of Celtic Christianity, it is known that the residents of Dinas Powys had use of day to day objects from Bordeaux, Athens and Alexandria and, to this day, it remains one of the wealthiest parts of Wales.
The village features substantial remains of a Norman castle and the adjacent Cwm George was the site of the celtic hill fort from which the village takes its name. The hill fort site was excavated by Leslie Alcock of University College, Cardiff between 1954 and 1958 and was found to contain evidence of major wooden structures and a large quantity of high-status metalwork and jewellery. There were also glass items and imported pottery dating from the sub-Roman period of between the 5th and 7th centuries. The castle was originally the seat of a Norman noble called Baron de Sumeri or Sumery, but the structure went into decline around 1322 when the de Sumeri male family line came to an end.
According to the historian John Davies, the name Dinas Powys (and its earlier spelling 'Dinas Powis') is derived from the Latin "Dinas Pagus" — meaning "city of pagans" [This is incorrect, of course. A 'pagus' was a Late Roman local regional description, the equivalent of a modern district council in Britain, and the kingdom of Powys derived its name from this, pagenses, '(land of the) country dwellers' or 'people of the pagi'. The root for Dinas Powys is the same, and means fort (dinas) of the country dwellers or the people] .
In the 11th century Dinas Powis was under the control of Sir Reginald de Sully, one of the Twelve Knights of Glamorgan. In 1591, Sir Edward Mansel of Margam wrote his historical document recording The winning of Glamorgan and recorded:
- To Sir Reginald de Sully he (Sir Robert Fitz Haymon) gave the castle and town to be called Sully with the Manor of it, and the Manors of St Andrews and Dinas Powys for his Granary and provisions. This Sir Reginald bestowed much land in fee frankliege to his men and came to be a man of wealth and fame. He had at Sully besides his Castle a fair Manor house built after a new manner, where he did live the most of his time, which house as well as the Castle was broke down by Owain Glendowr
Later in The winning of Glamorgan Mansel records:
- The Lordship of Llantwit is described as so fertile that as Glamorgan was called the Garden of Wales was this Lordship called the Garden of Glamorgan ... and it is the flower of all the Country ... and it was very full of goodly villages and Courtly houses, most of them still in remaining. The Lord had in this Lordship a noble Castle at Dinas Powys and one at Barry, with his Court house of Llantwit and Grange house of Boverton, so that in the whole it is a most Goodly Country.
Dinas Powis was included in the original medieval Welsh political sub-division called the Cantref Brenhinol (The Royal Hundred) which later became the commote known as the Hundred of Dinas Powis, which also encompassed St Andrews Major, Michaelston-le-Pit, Westra, Penarth, Cogan, Sully, Lavernock and Llandough.
A sudden expansionEdit
By 1833, Dinas Powys barely existed, but was still larger than nearby Penarth, until Penarth amalgamated with Cogan and Llandough to form a new Town Board. However, St. Andrews Major was at the time substantially larger than Dinas Powis, but even added together their population was still only 474 in total.
The village population had remained almost static at about 300-400 people until the second half of the 19th century when there was an influx into this thriving rural community, including a large contingent from the West Country. The growth of the coal industry saw the first passenger train arrive in Dinas Powys on Sunday, 20 December 1898, and thereafter the population increased rapidly. The new rail link was laid at the bottom end of the Dinas Powys valley and provided a rapid link to the new docks that had been built in Cardiff, Barry and Penarth to handle the expanding coal trade from the South Wales valleys. At that time the only features below St Andrews Major were the small hamlet of Dinas Powis, the rail line, Cadoxton Brook and a number of small farms.
The new rail link provided far better communication and transport to the area making it a more attractive residential prospect and many workers from Barry and Cardiff moved into the Dinas Powys area. As quickly as 1891, the village population had already more than doubled to 1,149 and by the turn of the century ten years later, had expanded to over 2,000. The village expanded in two ways as from the railway link towards St. Andrew's Major many imposing and fine houses were built, in contrast to the 'railway suburbs' that grew up along the railway, near the current area of Eastbrook, where the new housing was of more modest proportions.
Just a few years after the railway was constructed, the main Cardiff Road was developed over the previous unmetalled trackway that followed the route of the railway line. This provided a further burst of population growth and house building.
In the 20th centuryEdit
A corner of the village common land was sold to the Barry Docks and Railway Company for the sum of £160. The then Lord of the Manor and ex-military survivor of the First World War, Major General Henry Lee donated an additional sum of £30 and in 1935 the combined fund was used to upgrade the small green in the centre of the village, known locally as the Twyn, with a War Memorial.
The surrounding soils within the village bounds are mostly a strong, brown, dry earth, well adapted for arable farming and the growing of grains of all kinds that contributed to the area being a mostly farming community until the modern era. The substratum under the whole area is a limestone that was likely laid down under a warm ocean at some stage in the distant past.
The village has not been able to spread northwards, because there were (and still are) golf courses and protected woodlands between the village and Michaelston-le-pit. The freeholders of Cwrt-yr-Ala Estate prevented the two from merging. More recent housing development has taken place in a linear fashion either side of the main Cardiff road and in the direction of Cadoxton and Barry. Cwm George and Cwrt-yr-Ala are woodlands in the area.
It is obvious by comparing variously aged maps that over the last hundred years Penarth and Dinas Powys have spread and grown closer together. In many places the two communities are only separated by a few hundred yards and a couple of fields, although no direct road connections have been added entailing a roundabout car route of several miles via Llandough. The only existing direct road is the medieval and winding single track 'Cross Common Road'. Another traditional lane crossing that existed between the current site of Tesco Express and the current Erw Delyn school at Redlands Heights, Penarth was closed to through traffic following extensions to the Murch estate in the 1970s.
According to the Environment Agency, in the October floods of 1998 only six properties at Dinas Powys were affected. Flooding was caused by the floodwater overtopping the banks of the Cadoxton River among others and ordinary watercourses, restrictions to flow in channels and surcharging of drains.
The community (which includes St Andrews Major and Westra) elects a community council. Uniquely for this part of Wales, the community council was dominated by the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru for over two decades. In the most recent (May 2008) elections, this dominance was reduced slightly, as the Conservative Party won four additional seats on the Community Council, all at the expense of Plaid Cymru, including the defeat of Chris Franks.
An electoral ward in the same name exists, for elections to the County Council. This ward mainly covers Dinas Powys but also stretches north to Michaelston. The total population of this ward taken at the 2011 census was 7,799.
Until May 2017 ward representatives to the Vale of Glamorgan Council were: Val Hartrey, Keith Hatton, Chris Franks (all members of Plaid Cymru) and Chris Williams (formerly a Plaid Cymru member, but now sitting as an Independent). In the May 2017 elections all four seats were won by the Conservatives, Vince Driscoll, Andy Robertson, Rob Crowley and Steve Griffiths. Losses were also seen in the community council for Plaid, as the Conservatives even more seats in those elections.
The United Kingdom Census 2001 records the population as being 8,512. Electoral roll information since that date indicates the village now has a population of 8,790. There are little in the way of major employers in the village. The majority of the working population commute to Cardiff, Penarth and Barry.
The United Kingdom Census of 2011 records the usual population as being 7,490.
Of note is the Dinas Powys Castle and the village common and war memorial on the village green. Several pubs serve the village, mostly in the village centre, and include The Star, The Cross Keys, and The Three Horse Shoes. 'The Swan' in Eastbrook closed permanently in 2007. Across the other side of the railway lines is The Castle Oak (until 2006 known as The Malthouse) located on the Murch estate near a small parade of shops. The Castle Oak closed during 2011. The site is now operated by Tesco. Dinas Powys is also noted for its sports clubs which are documented below.
The Mount was originally a farmhouse called Mount Pleasant and was occupied by the Hurst family who held the manor of Dinas Powys. The house was extended in the 19th Century by the Lee family who built a new South wing and renamed the house The Mount. It was further modified in the Victorian period before being converted into separate dwellings in the 20th century. The Mount is a grade 2 listed building due to it being a late Georgian villa which retains much of its architectural character.
St. Peter's church on Mill Road is the main Church in Wales parish church within the village while the Roman Catholic congregation worships at St. Mary's church on Edith Road. St Peter's Church was built in order to replace the old "Iron Church" in the village square in 1929-1930. The previous "Iron Church" serviced as a Chapel of ease for St. Andrews since 1881 but could only hold 180 worshippers. The Foundation Stone was laid on St. Peter's Day on the 29 June 1929 and was consecrated on 15 October 1930. The Church was designed by the notable Glamorgan architect, J Coates Carter, and was built after his death. Much of the masonry was re-used from the recently demolished Cyfarthfa iron and steel works. St Peter's Church is currently a grade two listed building. Dinas Powys is also noted for its 14th century Norman parish church, dedicated to St Andrew. The building is located in the hamlet of St Andrews Major, just under a mile away from the Dinas Powys village centre. Additionally there is the nearby church of St Michael and All Angels in Michaelston-le-Pit.
There are also two Methodist chapels within the village, one is a small "tin Tabernacle" in the Eastbrook area, at the top of Chapel close, opposite Eastbrook Railway station; the larger Methodist Church backs on to Station Road where, until May 2008 its front entrance was, the entrance has now been relocated to the access off Mount Road, on the edge of the common. Dinas Powys Baptist Church meet in the Parish Hall on Britway Road, and Bethesda Chapel is on Fairoaks. There is also a small Presbyterian church in the Highwalls Road area called Ebenezer Presbyterian Church.
Dinas Powys technically has no secondary school of its own but was home to one half of Penarth’s St Cyres Comprehensive School. The "Dinas Site" was the smaller of the two existing facilities and contained the locally living lower school students from year seven to year nine, representing ages 11 to 14, while upper school for the older children is located on Redlands Heights in Penarth. However, the St Cyres lower school in the village closed in 2012, and was replaced by a larger single redeveloped site located in Penarth.
The village also has two other schools - Dinas Powys Primary School (Formed in 2015 by the amalgamation of the Dinas Powys Infants school and the Murch Junior School) and St Andrews Major Church in Wales Primary school.
Sports and recreationEdit
The extensive recreation area at the village Common, administered by Dinas Powys Community Council, is home to several established sports teams. The first Rugby Football was played on the Common at Dinas Powys, in 1882. It is said that a group of young farm workers challenged a group of players at the new Gwalia Brickworks and thus history was made. Dinas Powys Rugby Club located on the Common, plays in Division 1 East of the WRU league, the club has enjoyed much success in recent seasons winning several promotions and winning the East District cup on two occasions in the past three seasons as well as the 2nd XV known affectionately as the Dingos winning the Mallett cup in 2016. Organised sports are also played on Parc Bryn-a-don and the Murch Playing Fields within the village.
Dinas Powys Football Club became the first in the Vale of Glamorgan to achieve the Club Accreditation Programme Bronze Award set by the Football Association of Wales Trust Technical Department. Dinas Powys Golf Club was founded in 1914 and is considered to be one of the finest courses in Wales, with views over the city of Cardiff and Cardiff Bay. The tennis club and coaching is also considered one of the finest in the Vale of Glamorgan. Dinas Powys Cricket Club were established in 1882. They field a 1st, 2nd & 3XI side in the Welsh Club Cricket Conference, playing their home league matches at Parc Bryn y Don, and also run a Midweek League side and a Sunday friendly side, playing home matches on the spiritual home of the club, Dinas Powys Common. The club also has a healthy junior section, running sides at Under 9, Under 11, Under 13 and Under 15
There has been an active branch of the Pony Club in the village since 1975. There are many voluntary organizations active within the village and available for the active participation of residents, including a large Scout group.
The village has two railway stations, one at either end of the village with Eastbrook station at the Cardiff end and Dinas Powys station at the Barry end. Both stations are on the same Network Rail's Barry branch with passenger trains operated by Transport for Wales as at October 2018. Monday to Saturday daytimes there is a fifteen-minute frequency northbound to Cardiff Central and beyond. Southbound three trains per hour to Barry Island, plus an hourly service to Bridgend via Rhoose. Note that although these two stations are geographically in the Vale of Glamorgan, the official Vale of Glamorgan Branch starts at Barry and terminates at Bridgend.
- John Smith - Former Member of Parliament (Labour Party) lives in the village
- Ray Smith (1936–1991) - The versatile Welsh actor who most famously played Chief Superintendent Gordon Spikings in TV's Dempsey & Makepeace lived in the village.
- Huw Justin Smith (1965–2007) brought up in Dinas Powys, son of Ray Smith and better known as Pepsi Tate, bass guitarist of Welsh glam metal band Tigertailz.
- Dave Edmunds (born 1944) - the successful Welsh recording artist, popular singer, rock guitarist and high-profile record producer lived near the Common in Dinas Powys with his family during the 1970s and early 1980s
- Sarah Loosemore (born 1971) - tennis player, at 17 the youngest British woman to play at the Wimbledon championships, raised in the village
- Donna Edwards (born in Merthyr Tydfil)- double BAFTA winning actress, lives in Dinas Powys
- Noel Johnson - 1916 -1999 the radio voice of Dick Barton special agent on the BBC resided in the village
- Jeremy Colman - the disgraced former Auditor General for Wales, lived in the village
- Charlotte Church - Singer and TV chat show host moved to the village in July 2010
- Hannah Mills - British sailor, Olympic gold and silver medalist, from Dinas Powys
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- "The Mount - Dinas Powys - Vale of Glamorgan - Wales | British Listed Buildings". www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- Knight, Charles (1854). The English cyclopaedia: a new dictionary of Universal Knowledge. Bradbury and Evans. p. 933. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
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- "Dinas Powys seek Forwards Coach". Cardiff Blues. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
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