Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Cardiff's Norwegian Church

Like many ports Cardiff was home to communities of overseas merchant seamen, including many Norwegians. Norway has one of the largest merchant fleets in the world in the nineteenth century and Cardiff was a major hub of operations.  To serve the large and growing Nordic community in Cardiff a church was built and consecrated in 1868. The church became the centre of the expatriate community and a place of refuge in times of war including during the Second World War for Norwegians who could not return to their Nazi occupied homeland.

Cardiff was declining as a trade port in the twentieth century, a decline which hastened after the war. The Nordic community in the city thus also declined, the church was eventually closed and deconsecrated in 1974. The church fell into ruin and was threatened with demolition. Luckily the church had been built from iron sheets to allow it to be moved if necessary. This allowed the church to be dismantled and stored in 1987. The church was reassembled in 1992 as part of the redevelopment of Cardiff Bay and is now an arts centre.

One notable member of the expatriate community in Cardiff was Roald Dahl who was born in the city in 1916 and baptised in the church.