Thank you so much to everyone who came to celebrate. Here's what happened on the day... and what happens next!
It was a busy Saturday in Cardiff with Tafwyl, the Tom Jones Gig and the Urdd Urban Games, plus the weather forecast was… not good. Despite this, OVER SIX HUNDRED of you came to Railway Gardens to celebrate the return of this space to community use after so many years of it sitting locked, empty, and derelict.
Where to begin with this special day? At 1pm a crowd gathered outside the gates where Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice spoke, saying “This is fantastic – we’ll be coming to learn lessons here, because it’s about the commitment to tackling climate change, promoting biodiversity, and involving all communities.”
Pupils from Adamsdown Primary, led by year 6 students Nada and Amine, kicked off a countdown, opening the ribbon and getting those beautiful gates (freshly painted by volunteers from Hodge’s – thank you!) – wide open! Visitors were welcomed in by Wonderbrass who drove the drizzle away with their tunes. If you couldn’t join us for this special moment you can watch the opening and a little site tour here.
There was so much to do on site! Some of the small businesses who are using the containers were in place to showcase how they’ll be using their new business pod, including Liv from Pontcanna Veg, Dave from Cardiff Cargo Bikes, and Amanda and her team from The Micro GreenGrocer who launched Signal Box Farm – their amazing vertical growing initiative providing training and employment opportunities, right here at Railway Gardens!
Another one of the containers is now home to the brand new Splott Benthyg – a library of things. Here you’ll be able to borrow all kinds of very useful stuff, from power tools and kitchen equipment to camping bits and bobs. Benthyg also work closely with Repair Cafe, helping to fix things to keep them useful for longer, and out of landfill. Benthyg are seeking local people to join a new steering group for the Splott library – email email@example.com if you’d like to be involved.
We were also joined by Willows High, and members of their SEC group helped visitors make badges and showed off some of the items they make and sell.
There were loads of activities to try throughout the day. Local artist Florence Boyd led a botanical printing activity, Julianne of Caru Yogu held her first yoga taster on site, Jeanette ran a mini tai chi session, and the Railway Gardens Growing group made pond-life crafts and led some bee-friendly seed sowing. Cardiff Extinction Rebellion were busy block printing all day while chatting to visitors about climate action here in the city.
We were also treated to some wonderful food and drink from the Oasis food truck, Manumit Coffee and Mabin Eatery, who have recently taken over the cafe in the Star Hub, do go check them out! We had a lovely nibble on samples of micro greens from Signal Box Farm too, and the cake stall was piled high with tasty treats donated by people from all across Cardiff. Thanks to donations from cakes we made £260 for the project!
And throughout the day visitors were treated to some wonderful performances. Wonderbrass got everyone buzzing, then local resident and project volunteer Jeanette kicked us off with a thoughtful and generous opening speech. This was followed by local writer Saoirse Anton who read her joyful and moving poem ‘Manifesto.’
So – despite the rain, despite our entire power going off 45 minutes into the event (😬 – we’re working on it!) and despite not having the community hub finished yet, this was a day to remember. There are many people we wish to thank for making it happen but we want to start with the exceptional volunteer team. They worked so hard and were so cheerful, so practical, and so generally awesome – diolch yn fawr to Linette, Sheila, Natasha, Fab, Kate, Stephen, Ffion, Lyndsey, Helen, Vicky, Mari, Chloe, Ellen, Holly, Siobhan, Jeanette, Ray, Mal, Dan, and also to Tegan and Ember.
Are you interested in joining the volunteer team for the project? We have a wide range of opportunities available, from regular roles such as supervising the site during future opening hours and leading activities to occasional roles such as event stewarding and site work days. We also have the Railway gardens Growing Group – a new and growing group of local people who have come together to develop, care for and enjoy the growing spaces on site.
Volunteer and project advisory group member Natasha put together this great video to share a volunteer’s perspective of The Big Welcome – if you’d like to find out more about volunteering with us please complete the sign up form here.
Our grateful thanks also to…
- Keep Splott Tidy for clearing an epic 31 bags of rubbish from the front of the site and surrounding streets, ready for the event.
- Rich for hoofing furniture around, and to Oasis for loaning the furniture
- Richard, Tracy, Helena, Tilly, Cardiff Salad Garden, and everyone who donated plants
- Steve, Richard, and Dave for trying to get the power back on!
- And Dai, Frankie, Kat, Cosmo and Saoirse for being so understanding and flexible when the power didn’t come back on… sorry everyone.
- Tom from Child Friendly Cardiff for the loan of a marquee and equipment.
- Jodie and Bryce for getting containers ready and helping with storage.
- Vickie and Diane for their thoughtful gifts.
- Lia for the loan of tables and oven.
- Residents of Sidney Ames Court for being so accommodating.
- The young person who brought a chess board along and totally thrashed a series of adults in an impromptu tournament.
- And everyone who baked and donated cakes!
We would love to hear your feedback on the event so we can improve what we do in the future – do you have 1 minute to fill in this very short feedback form?
We’ve got some more photos to share with you below but first…
What's going to happen next?
Unfortunately, the delays we’ve faced in getting the indoor space completed have somewhat scuppered our original plans to get the full programme of activities up and running right away. But that’s not going to stop us using the site! Have you got an idea for something you’d like to do with the outdoor space over the summer months? Whether it’s a play session, an outdoor cinema, a performance, a workshop, or something else completely, please get in touch and we’ll chat about supporting you to make it happen.
While we plan to announce more activities over the summer, here’s what you can get involved in right now…
- From Wednesday 29th June we’ll be holding a weekly Natter with Neighbours drop in, 10:30 – 12:00pm. Come and get to know local people over a tea or coffee. All ages welcome – we’ll have toys and colouring for little ones.
- On July 1st we’re holding a raised bed building session with Keep Wales Tidy – register here.
- On July 2nd it’s all hands on deck to fill those new raised beds with soil! This is a drop in event but you can register here if you’d like to be sent a reminder.
- July 13th is our first gardening skill share on site, all about sowing seeds and taking cuttings. Register here.
- July 27th is the next Growing Group meet up – if you’d like to join the Growing Group please email firstname.lastname@example.org