Barry Island

The Making of a Seaside Playground, c.1790–c.1965

Author(s) Andy Croll

Language: English

Genre(s): History

  • July 2020 · 288 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Paperback - 9781786835864
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786835871
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786835888

About The Book

Barry Island was one of the most cherished leisure spaces in twentieth-century south Wales, the playground of generations of working-class day-trippers. This book considers its rise as a seaside resort and reveals a history that is much more complex, lengthy and important than has previously been recognized. As conventionally told, the story of the Island as tourist resort begins in the 1890s, when the railway arrived in Barry. In fact, it was functioning as a watering place by the 1790s. Yet decades of tourism produced no sweeping changes. Barry remained a district of ‘bathing villages’ and hamlets, not a developed urban resort. As such, its history challenges us to rethink the category of ‘seaside resort’ and forces us to re-evaluate Wales’s contribution to British coastal tourism in the ‘long nineteenth century’. It also underlines the importance of visitor agency; powerful landowners shaped much of the Island’s development but, ultimately, it was the working-class visitors who turned it into south Wales’s most beloved tripper resort.


‘A pioneering and richly documented study that challenges many of our preconceptions of the development of Barry Island and of Welsh seaside resorts in general. It tells a story that is at one and the same time more complicated than previously imagined, but also richer and more rewarding. A pleasure to read, it is a book that no historian of the British seaside, or anyone interested in how resorts developed, will want to miss.’
- Emeritus Professor Peter Borsay, Aberystwyth University

'Those of us who spent (or even misspent!) our childhoods and youth in south Wales will cherish fond memories of idyllic summer holidays and enjoyable day trips spent at Barry Island. Hitherto, rather surprisingly, no one has chronicled fully and analysed the history of the development of this favourite south Wales holiday resort. This superb, genuinely pioneering, highly readable study, certainly fills the gap, and is based on a huge amount of detailed searching through an array of national and local newspapers and other sources. Not the least attractive feature of this lovely book is the spate of beautiful illustrations and photographs lovingly and carefully selected to enhance our understanding of the themes outlined so competently in the text.'
- J. Graham Jones

'It is clear that Andy Croll is also enamoured of the place, as the book is shot through with a sense of fondness as well as the usual academic rigour and apparatus. Having myself been there every other year on Sunday school trips throughout my childhood I certainly share that fondness, as will others who read the book.'
- Jon Gower,

'Croll’s analysis offers a valuable corrective to traditional understandings of the development of seaside resorts. Most importantly, it recovers a more complete view of the history of Barry Island, not only from a chronological point of view: it encompasses and vividly describes the experi-ence of tourists themselves, their needs, and their agency. Barry Island is a well-researched and well-written account that might provide valuable insights to historians but might also become a compelling read for the nonacademic reader.'
- Silvia Granata, Journal of British Studies


List of Illustrations
Author’s Note
Chapter 1‘Much Frequented During the Bathing Season’: Barry Island and Welsh Coastal Tourism, c. 1780-c. 1860
Chapter 2‘That Favourite Place’: Cardiff’s Bathing Resort, c. 1860-1877
Chapter 3Visitors ‘Mercilessly’ Turned Away: The Island Closed, 1878-1884
Chapter 4Reclaimed, 1884-c.1890
Chapter 5An ‘El Dorado Where Soft Winds Blow’: Resort Boosterism Flourishes in the 1890s
Chapter 6‘Awake ye Sluggards!’ Resort Development Flounders, c. 1900-1914
Chapter 7‘They Sweep Down on the Place and Take Possession of It’: Trippers Triumphant, c. 1890-c. 1910
Chapter 8Barry-on-Sea? The Tripper Resort Consolidated, 1914-c.1965

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Andy Croll

Andy Croll is principal lecturer in History at the University of South Wales.

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