A distant view of Dinas Powis
Dinas Powys shown within the Vale of Glamorgan
|OS grid reference|
|Principal area||Vale of Glamorgan|
|Ceremonial county||South Glamorgan|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||Dinas Powys|
|Dialling code||+44 29|
Dinas Powys (also spelt 'Dinas Powis') is a large village and a community in the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales which takes its name from the 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. 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.
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 post office and a range of small independent shops, public houses, restaurants and community facilities. In addition there are shops, garages, small supermarkets, doctors' surgeries and a Vets on the main Cardiff Road and a selection of shops on the Murch estate including a post office and a pharmacy.
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 Ages
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 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 was 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 expansion
By 1833, the community of 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 century
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.
Uniquely for this part of Wales, the village is notable for having a community council that has been 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 AM.
Ward representatives to the Vale of Glamorgan Council are: Val Hartrey, Keith Hatton, Margaret Randall (all members of Plaid Cymru) and Chris Williams (formerly a Plaid Cymru member, but now sitting as an Independent).
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 recreation
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. The Dinas Powys Rugby Club located on the common, also caters for several skittles teams. 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 and 2nd XI 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 Vale of Glamorgan railway line operated by Arriva Trains Wales. 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.
- 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 and was a regular at The Malthouse pub until his death
- Huw Justin Smith (1965–2007) Son of Ray Smith and better known as Pepsi Tate, bass guitarist of Welsh Glam Metal band Tigertailz who made the UK top 40 album charts in the early 1990s. He later He pursued a career in television as a producer and director. His work for BBC Wales included directing the weekly politics programme, Dragon's Eye, presented by former BBC Wales political editor David Williams
- Dave Edmunds (born 15 April 1944 in Cardiff) - 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 15 June 1971 in Cardiff) - 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, who starred in Belonging, who continues to appear in Pobol y Cym, and who appeared in BAFTA winning series Gavin and Stacey lives in Dinas Powys
- Sophie Borja - actress, who played Roxy in BBC's Tracy Beaker series, lives in Dinas Powys
- Lucy Borja - actress, who played Chloe in BBC's Young Dracula series, lives in Dinas Powys
- Cameron Jerome - Current Birmingham City footballer lived in Dinas Powys when he was first signed by Cardiff City
- Noel Johnson - 1916 -1999 the radio voice of Dick Barton special agent on the BBC resided in the village and was a regular in the Three Horse Shoes and Cross Keys Public Houses
- 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 silver medalist at London 2012 Olympic Games in the Women's 470 Class, from Dinas Powys
- "DINAS POWYS FORT, PREVIOUSLY CWM GEORGE OR CWRT-YR-ALA CAMP". Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Redknap, Mark (January 1991). The Christian Celts: Treasures of Late Celtic Wales. National Museum Wales. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7200-0354-3. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Kenyon, John R. (1990). Medieval Fortifications. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-8264-7886-3. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Castleden, Rodney (4 January 2002). King Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend. Taylor and Francis. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-203-02216-0. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Margam Abbey; Llandaff (Diocese) (1891). Cartæ et alia munimenta quæ ad dominium de Glamorgan pertinent ...: 441-1300. Priv. Print. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "Dinas Powys castle history". The Daily Telegraph. 8 September 2001. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Hobson Matthews, John (1903). "The Winning of Glamorgan: Documents". Accessed via Britishhistoryonline.ac.uk. pp. 6–47 (Volume 4). Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Lewis, Samuel (1845). A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. S. Lewis. p. 475. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "The Barry Railway". Trackbed.com. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "About Dinas Powys". Dinas Powys Orchestra. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Williams, Stewart; Denning, R. T. W. Stewart Williams' Glamorgan historian. D. Brown. p. 169. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Alcock, Leslie; University of Wales. Board of Celtic Studies (1963). Dinas Powys: an Iron Age, Dark Age, and medieval settlement in Glamorgan. University of Wales Press. p. 1. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Knight, Charles (1854). The English cyclopaedia: a new dictionary of Universal Knowledge. Bradbury and Evans. p. 933. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- John May (1994). Reference Wales. University of Wales Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-7083-1234-6. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "Dinas Powys seek Forwards Coach". Cardiff Blues. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- Littlejohn, Georgina (2 July 2010). "Charlotte Church manages a bright smile as she shops for essentials after moving into her new home". Daily Mail. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
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