Happy Birthday Cardiff

100 years ago Cardiff became a city, and it enters its second century in remarkably good shape.

In 1905 society was changing rapidly.
For the first time ordinary Welsh people had enough time and money to enjoy themselves, and a city in which to spend time and money.

A whirlwind religious revival which had resulted in hundreds of rugby teams disbanding had blown itself out, and now Cardiff was to host a match which made rugby the new religion of Wales.

It was of course the famous victory over the All Blacks, which helped to generate a sense of pride and confidence in Cardiff and Wales.
The economy was booming too, and the black gold from the Valleys was bringing a new affluence to Cardiff.

In 2005 Cardiff is in a similar phase of growth and confidence.
Now when I speak to MPs about our city they no longer speak of smoke stacks and mines.

They talk about the Millennium Stadium, the Assembly, the Bay and the shops.
To them Cardiff is a vibrant modern city, albeit with a nightlife a little too vibrant for them.
They visit for the football or rugby, and come back for a short break.

It is also developing into a proper capital city with the political and cultural institutions to match.
Similar size English cities like Leicester are not the home to a National Opera, a national arts centre, and national sports facilities.

It is an exciting time to live in Cardiff, but the city’s growth didn’t happen by accident.
Despite what you sometimes read, Cardiff has generally been well served in the last two decades by the quality of its civic leadership.
It is a legacy which the current council leadership must not squander.