Leafy Victoria Park is a classic late Victorian urban public park, opened in 1897 and named in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The park is a popular local facility boasting an Edwardian drinking fountain canopy, recently installed replica bandstand, colourful feature planted beds and Cardiff’s only municipal paddling pool.
Victoria Park was laid out on the site of the former Ely Common between 1894 and 1897. It was designed by W.W. Pettigrew, Head Gardener to Cardiff Corporation, working in co-operation with William Harpur, the Corporation’s Municipal Engineer.
During its development, the layout of the park was modified to include a small lake to appease local Councillors who wanted to retain a pond within the site so that Canton had a park that would match up to Roath Park which had opened in 1894. Early intentions were to develop the park into a zoological garden and from 1900 onwards the park housed a growing collection of animals and birds, mostly presented to the Parks Department by returning seafarers who had collected them on their travels.
The most famous resident of the park was ‘Billy the seal’, a grey seal presented in 1912, who lived in the lake. There are many local folk tales about Billy’s escape from the park during floods in the 1930s. After his death in 1939, his body was given to the National Museum of Wales, at which point it became evident that Billy was actually a female! He is now commemorated in a statue by David Peterson erected in 1997 next to the paddling pool, which was constructed in the 1950s following the infilling of the original lake. The zoological collection waned during the inter war period and was dispersed around the time of the Second World War.
In 1995 the Heritage Lottery Fund provided funding for the restoration of the park, including the installation of a replica bandstand cast from the original moulds of the bandstand in the park. The site also boasts tennis courts, a bowling green and an extensive children’s playground making it a popular and well used local facility. The paddling pool is open during summer holiday periods.
Refreshments are available from the ice cream kiosk in the park and there are public toilets on site.
Address: Victoria Park Road East, Canton, Cardiff
Postcode: CF5 1EG
Tel number: (029) 2068 4000
Web Address: www.cardiff.gov.uk/parks
Opening Hours: Park is open from 7.30am to around 30 minutes before the nationally published sunset time for Cardiff.
Admission Charges: Free admission
Parking Charges: Free on street parking available around the park
Group information: Toilets on site.
Coaches by arrangement, contact Parks and Sports Service on above number for more information.
Accessibility information: Good Level access throughout the site – wheelchair accessible.