The peninsula was an island until the 1880s when it was linked to the mainland as the town of Barry expanded. This was partly due to the opening of Barry Dock by the Barry Railway Company. Established by David Davies the docks now link up the gap which used to form Barry island. On Barry Docks, the original dock offices are now used by the county council. The dock offices themselves are one of just a handful of buildings in the world classed as calendar buildings. The dock offices has four grand fire places and clocks on its roof, to represent the four seasons, 52 rooms for every week of the year and a grand 365 windows.
There is a railway station still to access the island at Barry Docks, there is also a heritage rail station which still homes original refurbished steam passenger trains. The rail is always open to the public and annually holds events involving a large steam engine replica of Thomas the tank engine.
Barry Island is now known for its beach and Barry Island Pleasure Park. The island used to house a Butlins Holiday camp, which was used as for filming scenes in the “Shangri-La” holiday camp from the Doctor Who serial Delta and the Bannermen. The camp has since been dismantled due to health and safety problems. The site redeveloped for housing, but the island was once again used for location shooting in the 2005 series episodes The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, standing in for a bomb site in 1941 London.
Barry also has its own castle near Romily Park.
The railway station is the home of both the national services of Arriva Trains Wales, as well as the preserved Vale of Glamorgan Railway. In the 1970s and 1980s Barry was home to hundreds of British Rail steam locomotives that were being scrapped. Many were sold to preservation societies, but in the late 1980s most were destroyed.
The island itself has a railway station, Barry Island railway station, and serves as one of the termini on theVale of Glamorgan Line.
Buses to Barry Island: 95 (96 on Sundays and Public Holidays) from Cardiff City Centre
see www.cardiffbus.com for details
Barry Island – From ‘A Topographical Dictionary of Wales’ (1849)
BARRY ISLAND, in the parish of Barry, union of Cardiff, hundred of Dinas-Powys, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 9 miles (S. W. by S.) from Cardiff: the population is returned with the parish. This small islet, situated in a sandy bay of the Bristol Channel, is separated from the main land only by a narrow isthmus, which is dry at low water. It is about one mile and a half in circumference, and comprises about 300 acres of land, let as one farm, but chiefly in a wild state of heath and warren, abounding with rabbits, and producing only a scanty herbage for a few sheep and cattle. Lead-ore and calamine are stated to have been formerly obtained among the limestone of which the island consists. Barry is supposed to have derived its name from St. Baruch, a disciple of Gisalch, who was interred here in the year 700. In later times, it was in the possession of the family of Barri, one of the most distinguished members of which was Giraldus de Barri, otherwise Cambrensis, who was born at Manorbeer, in the county of Pembroke, where the remains of their castle may still be seen: some of the descendants of this family afterwards settled in Ireland, and became ennobled. Leland describes it as bearing “very good corne, grasse, and sum wood;” and says, “Ther ys no dwelling in the isle, but ther is in the midle of it a fair litle chapel of S. Barrok, wher much pilgrimage was usid.” Since his time a house has been erected, for the farmer, which is fitted up in summer for the reception of persons desirous of enjoying in retirement the benefit of sea-bathing.On the western side of the island, opposite to the ruins of Barry Castle, are faint vestiges of a similar structure, and of two ancient chapels, in one of which the hermit St. Baruch was interred. Towards the southern side, at a place called Nell’s Point, is a well, much resorted to on Holy-Thursday by females, who, having washed their eyes with the water, each drop a pin into it, the memorial of some ancient custom, or offering to the presiding saint. Giraldus Cambrensis, in his description of the island, gives an account of a small cavity in a rock near the entrance to it, from which, on applying the ear, proceeded a noise resembling that of blacksmiths at work, the blowing of bellows, strokes of hammers, grinding of tools, and roaring of furnaces. He is at a loss to conjecture its cause, as the same sounds were heard at low water as at the ebb and flow of the tide, which might produce this effect by the influx of the waters under the rocky cavities. Modern writers, however, have not been able to discover any cavity whence these subterraneous noises issue; and the phenomenon, if it ever existed except in a fanciful imagination, exists no longer.