Roath Mill, Roath, Cardiff

Roath Mill Project Results

The ground resistivity survey carried out on 17 March 2012 at the site of Roath Mill showed a debris field where the known mill buildings had stood. A magnetic gradiometry survey was not carried out as there was interference from nearby cars, street furniture and probably buried services north of the stream. The Abstract below from the extensive technical report shows that the results were not conclusive but may just have shown earlier waterways and perhaps buildings. The most certain result is that the last mill building was very thoroughly demolished.

Geophysical survey of Roath Mill, Cardiff [ST197779]
Dr T.P. Young

Ground resistivity surveys were undertaken on the site of Roath Mill. A single 20m grid square was surveyed at high resolution (0.5m x 0.5m spacing) with 0.5m-sapced mobile electrodes. A larger area was surveyed using 1.0m-spaced electrodes at a 0.5m x 1.0m spacing.

The surveys show an area of elevated ground resistivity broadly, but not precisely, corresponding to the location of the mill building as determined by map regression. The high-resistivity zone is bounded abruptly to the NW by a NNE-SSW boundary roughly parallel to the expected line of the NW side of the mill buildings, but 5-10m further NW. The area is also abruptly bounded to the SW by a narrow elongate zone of low resistivity running slightly oblique to the modern park boundary. The zone of high resistivity grades eastwards more gradually, suggesting a progressive spread of demolition debris, although the presence of former tracks or hard standing to the front of the mill may also contribute.

To the north of the stream some strong featuring was also observed within the resistivity data. Some of these features showed some degree of association with the locations of a footpath and field boundary on the 19th century OS mapping. Two other features of the resistivity data did not correspond to 19th century mapped features. Firstly, a distinct lineation in the resistivity data on a NNE-SSW direction shows a marked resistivity drop to the west of a narrow zone of elevated resistivity. This lineation lies on the same line as that bounding the higher resistivity area to the south of the stream. The second is an abrupt resistivity change across a NW-SE line in the SE corner of the surveyed grid. This high resistivity area may impinge on area within which the park was initially landscaped with a more gentle dip to the stream and with an area of artificial ‘rock outcrops’ shown on old photographs.

Interpretation of the data is not straightforward. The mill buildings, as mapped in the 1880s, are not delineated in the data. This probably indicates that walls/footings are not preserved (or are not sufficiently differentiated from adjacent materials) at the depths examined (down to 1.5m below surface). This may indicate either that the footings were not substantial, or that the demolition process was fairly thorough. Lineations within the area of high resistivity might be due either to patterns of destruction/demolition or might, just possibly, reflect an earlier layout of buildings/features than those of the 1880s.The strong resistivity low to the south of the survey might equally just possibly be interpretable as an earlier watercourse.

Further map research shows that the millstream through Roath was only straightened as far as the bridge, now at Penylan Road, in 1789, as shown on a map of Roath parish of that date (National Library of Wales, Tredegar 233 139/8/14). Accounts show there was a major refurbishment of the mill in 1801 (National Library of Wales, Ruperra Accounts 1801 AGR 1-20 (Bocs 456)) so the millstream may have been extended at that time.


Roath Mill Project

Geophysical Survey, 17th March 2012

Cardiff Archaeology Society and GeoArch

An Outline

PLEASE NOTE - The findings of the survey will be posted here as soon as they are available.

Roath Mill Gardens 
The Mill Gardens were formally opened on the 23rd October, 1912 so this year is the centenary. The new park then included a paddling pool – the opening included the launch of a toy torpedo-boat by a Councillor's son. Some stonework of the mill and its water system remain in the sides of the stream.

The Survey
There is very little left of the buildings of early Roath, as the mill, the major farmhouses such as Great House (Ty Mawr), Dean's Farm,  and cottages such asTy Draw and Ty-y-cyw were all demolished in the late nineteenth or twentieth centuries to make way for
the suburban development we have today. 

The survey looked for any remains below ground of the known mill buildings and for any signs of the earlier buildings which might indicate the site of the medieval mill. Two types of ground-penetrating survey were used, magnetometry and ground resistivity.

The survey area outlined in red squares

A History of Roath Mill
The mill appears in the first references to Roath when it was donated to Tewkesbury Abbey in 1102.This may be the mill that was regranted to Keynsham Abbey by 1275. After the Dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, the lands were eventually bought by the Morgan's of Tredegar and  Lanrumney. The mill is mentioned in 1650 and in a detailed survey of 1702 - 'a Corn Grist Mill, called Roath Mill, which said mill the said Jurors do likewise present to be the Lord's mill, and situate within this Lordship.' George Howels was the tenant.

In the nineteenth century there are references to the landowners,tenants, millers and mill workers as well as a tenants of the cottage attached to the mill. The Evans family of Dean's Farm are listed as millers and farmers in directories through most of the nineteenth century. The census shows James Rowe from Cornwall, then Maurice Griffiths from Pembrokeshire as millers – they were probably doing the actual milling. Edward Phillips, sexton and parish clerk, lived 'By Roath Mill' with his large family from at least 1855 to 1871.
He was buried at St. Margaret's, Roath, in 1895.

A map of the Mill area in 1880 (Reproduced from the 1880 Ordnance Survey Map)

The mill and its attached cottages stood in what is now Roath Mill Gardens. A mill required a straightened stream, the digging of a millpond and the building of sluices and weirs. The recut stream through Roath and the millpond are shown as early as the 1840 Tithe Plan.

An image of the Mill from 1890

The building stood until it 1897 when it was demolished during the redevelopment of the area. 

A map of the area in 1920 with the former site of the Mill shown. (Reproduced from the 1920 Ordnance Survey Map)