The photograph above, supplied by the Welsh Government Aerial Photography Unit, is a hghly magnified portion of the 1950 aerial photograph found on this site and shows Heath House on 16th August 1950.
Having acquired a substantial estate in the area the Lewis family built a mansion, Heathfield House, at sometime between 1835 and 1840. This later became known as Heath House, and other than a few cottages it was the only building on the Heath until the 1890s, when the Lewis estate began urban development, starting with Allensbank Road and Whitchurch Road. Other landowners also leased their land for residential and commercial development, and by the mid twentieth century the only remaining open space was Heath House and its surrounding parkland.
Heath House as shown on the 1901 Ordnance Survey map included "walled garden, possible summerhouse, parterres, woodland, parkland, orchard, lodge, isolated geometric copses, carriage drive, formal garden, greenhouses and pond."
The house and land were bought by the Cardiff Council in 1938, preserving for recreational use the space which became the present day Heath Park. Prior to its acquisition by the Council, Heath House was the headquarters of a haulage business run by Mr George Tucker. This business was founded in 1913 and Mr Tucker took a long lease on Heath House early in the development of his business. He adapted the extensive outhouses as garages and workshops.
After the 1939-45 war, plans were prepared to use the mansion as a recreation centre., In February 1947 it was agreed to serve notice on George Tucker to vacate Heath House in order that it could be utilised as a Recreation Centre for Gabalfa. He vacated the house on 31st December 1948 and the yard and out-buildings in March 1949. Later that year (by which time the business had been nationalised) Tucker's Transport was operating from premises in Newport Road.
The large lawn in front of Heath House was in regular use in the 1950s for summer events: for example in July 1954 the Heath Citizens Association held a garden party there and on two dates in July 1956 the Boy Scouts Association held sports events there. The outbuildings were adapted for use as changing accommodation for the playing fields.
The house became the responsibility of the Education Committee and was rented by the Heath Citizens Association for about 15 years until October 1964. The following year, in November 1965, the roof and interior were destroyed by fire. The report of the fire in the South Wales Echo described Heath House as "the derelict 20-roomed house" and stated that the Citizens Association had moved to new premises when its condition "became too bad to remain there." The Parks Committee agreed to urge the Education Committee to expedite the demolition of the house, but not the outbuildings, as these were being used as machine sheds and changing rooms. The house was not actually demolished until 1980, and in the meantime the ruined building was used unofficially as changing accommodation for the playing fields. In January 1980 the Leisure and Amenities Committee heard that the building was considered unsafe and it had been closed in September 1978 after extensive fire damage that summer. Compensation totalling £6,850 had been received. It was agreed that the building be demolished, the site cleared and a tender of £5,044 be accepted to carry out this work.
There is a description of Heath House and a set of drawings dated 1975 in the Collection of the Welsh School of Architecture now held by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.
Ordnance Survey maps show that the site of Heath House and its outbuildings is now occupied by the Miniature Railway and Tramway. The outbuildings lay approximately within the railway track, while Heath House itself stood outside the track and partly under the present day car park.
Sources of Information