During 1840's the town of Cardiff was undergoing rapid development. This was at the time of the famines in Ireland when many thousands of people had to flee their native land to avoid starvation and destitution. The docks in Cardiff were being developed by the Marquis of Bute with the main purpose of providing a port for the export of the coal produced in the mines of the South Wales valleys. To provide the necessary labour for the building of the docks the Marquis of Bute made arrangements to bring a large number of Irish families to Cardiff. He settled them in purpose built housing in an area near the docks. This area was known as Newtown. The men of Newtown became, essentially the builders of Cardiff docks.

Cardiff Docks

The docks developed rapidly and by the late 1800's Cardiff was the greatest coal exporting port in the world. The involvement of the people of Newtown did not cease when the docks had been built. The men continued to work as dockers as the port expanded and developed into one of the leading ports of the world. The men and women of Newtown also worked in the industries which developed and thrived around the docks. It is not an exaggeration to say that the families housed in Newtown by the Marquis of Bute in the 1840's were a vital part of the bedrock on which the prosperity of Cardiff and of the South Wales valleys was built.

The diligence and hard work of the people of Newtown was not expended entirely on the docks and its associated industries. There was a strong sense of community, underpinned by the loyalty of the people to their Catholic faith. By the mid 1870's St.Paul's school had been built and a small church had been erected. A new and larger church was built soon after. Cardinal Vaughan, Archbishop of Westminster and Primate of England and Wales, preached at the Pontifical High Mass on 29th August 1893. The people of Newtown were not alone in causing their Catholic faith to develop and flourish in Cardiff and South Wales but their contribution was vigorous and immense. In 1840, the Catholics of Cardiff were served by a single priest and had no better chapel than the ground floor of a cottage, connected with an open shed. By 1880 there were six flourishing parishes in the town and no less than thirteen schools for Catholic children, including an upper school for young ladies. Mass was being said regularly at Cardiff Castle.

Over the years, the community produced many men and women who made substantial and outstanding contributions to the cultural, commercial and industrial development of the town which has become the capital city of Wales. The community also produced many sporting heroes, with the boxer "Peerless Jim Driscoll" probably being the most famous.

Sadly, the district of Newtown ceased to exist when the area became the subject of a compulsory purchase order in 1966. This self perpetuating community - which spanned four generations - was dispersed and its people rehoused in various parts of the City. In 1970,  their homes, their Church and the old School buildings were demolished. The area in which the people of Newtown had lived and worked is  now part of Atlantic Wharf - on the fringe of  Cardiff Bay.