Robinson Square

Robinson Square, in Splott, no longer exists. It was designed in 1914 as a small (less than one acre) open space to be surrounded on all four sides by newly built houses. The Council was planning a housing estate off Portmanmoor Road to provide homes for workers at the East Moors steelworks. Robinson Square was to the south of Moorland Gardens close to the railway line and this site is now occupied by the Portmanmoor Industrial Estate.

The open space was officially named Robinson Square in honour of the Chairman of the Health Committee, which was responsible for development of the new estate. The plan was to create an ornamental garden of the same type as elsewhere in the City, with lawns, flower beds, trees, walks and seats.

The land designated for the garden was three feet below the level of the surrounding roads, and the first requirement was to level it. No progress was made until 1920, when the Council directed that soil removed from building sites in the area should be used for the filling-in of the Robinson Square garden. By March 1921 the filling had progressed sufficiently for the final levelling and rolling of the surface, but this did not take place because there was no money allocated for the purpose.

By this time the thinking in the Council about the layout of the garden had changed and it was now proposed to make a children's playground. Eventually the sum of £246 was included in the Parks Committee expenditure for 1926-27 to cover the costs of fencing, tar spraying and foundations for playground equipment. This work, and the erection of swings and see-saws, was completed in April 1926.

Almost immediately there were complaints from residents in the Square about the noise generated by children using the the swings and see-saws. The lay-out was also unpopular, in that the residents wanted an ornamental garden with walks, grass and trees. In December 1926 the Parks Committee decided that trees be would planted, and the swings and see-saws removed.[1] This was done, though the space remained essentially a children's playground.

The Parks Department Inventory of Parks Buildings and Equipment, compiled for insurance purposes in April 1938, included the following information for Robinsons Square:

  • 1938 Buildings and Equipment Inventory: Robinson Square
  • Open Space

Aerial photograph showing Robinson Square on 23rd March 1948

  • Portmanmoor Road runs diagonally through the top left hand corner
  • The East Moors steelworks were beyond the bottom left of the photograph
  • Robinson Square is the roughly rectangular plot in the centre
  • The building towards the bottom left is the gas works
  • The eliptical plot towards the bottom right was marked as "playground" on an early 1960s map
  • The railway lines on the right hand side were known as the "Tidal Sidings"

In December 1949 a new layout was agreed providing a children's playground and a rest garden.[2] In June 1956 the playground equipment had still not been purchased because the Welsh Office had declined to give consent for the Council to borrow the necessary funds.[3]

In the early 1970s an adventure playground was built in Robinson Square, one of several created in Cardiff open spaces.[4]

Robinson Square no longer exists, the houses having been demolished following the closure of the steelworks.

Sources of Information

In general, the information in this section is taken from A. A. Pettigrew, The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff, Volume 5.

Other sources are:

  1. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 14th December 1926
  2. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 6th December 1949
  3. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 14th June 1956
  4. Cine Film: "A Place to Play" Cardiff Cine Society