A pavilion was built for the 1951 Festival of Britain and occupied a large space in the southern half of the park, the area where formerly the fountain stood and where there is now a car park. Owing to post-war controls on building materials it was necessary to adapt a war surplus aeroplane hangar to provide the framework for it. The hangar was obtained from Stormy Down aerodrome near Pyle, Bridgend in late 1949. The cost of dismantling and transporting it was £3,400 and rebuilding it in Sophia Gardens was estimated to cost £40,000.[1] The pavilion when completed seated approximately 2,500 people, and the final cost of construction was £80,000.[2] The Cardiff City Engineer at the time, E.C. Roberts, gave an account of the building of the pavilion in an article published in Glamorgan Historian.[3] The official opening, performed by the Lord Mayor, Alderman George Williams, took place on Friday 27th April 1951.[4][5]

Subsequent to the Festival of Britain the pavilion was used for a variety of events and sporting occasions. One such event was a fashion show held in 1952, featured in the British Pathé Film - Fashion Show In Cardiff AKA Berketex Fashions. This short film clip shows the interior of the pavilion, along with shots taken outside in Sophia Gardens. It was also the venue in 1958 for the Empire and Commonwealth Games, held between July 18 and 26th, for boxing and wrestling matches as well as for the grand dance on the last day of the Games.[6]

Sophia Gardens Pavilion;

The Pavilion c.1958.[6]  Reproduced by kind permission of Cardiff Council

A heavy snow fall on the night of 9th January 1982[7] caused the roof of the pavilion to collapse. In November the Leisure and Amenities Committee decided that the site be cleared and made safe.[8] In April 1984 the Committee agreed that temporary planning permission be obtained for the site to be used as a car park.[9]

A car park now occupies this space.

Sources of information

  1. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 6th December 1949
  2. Welcome to Cardiff, issued by the Corporation of the City of Cardiff, undated but believed to be c.1965, page 42
  3. Glamorgan Historian Volume 3 1966, page 181
  4. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 13th March 1951
  5. Western Mail 28th April 1951 pages 3 & 4
  6. City of Cardiff Festival Programme 1958, page 21
  7. Meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 1st February 1982
  8. Meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 1st November 1982
  9. Meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 2nd April 1984