I guess the origin of Cardiff Cycle Workshop can be traced back to 2005 and a rusty shipping container which was situated outside the old Butetown Youth Pavilion on Dumballs Road. I was a health development worker tasked with getting more people more active in the Butetown and Grangetown area of Cardiff.
Amongst other projects, I began a small initiative at the local youth centre – a 3-hour one-evening-a-week session where young people could come and have their bikes repaired. I have been a keen cyclist all my life and just thought this might be a good way to engage with local people and enable them to use their bikes more.
I was inundated – and still remember sweating profusely in the height of summer as I fixed puncture after puncture. By chance some local residents came along and donated the odd bike that they no longer used and I was able to fix these up and give them out to kids who didn’t have a bike.
The seed was planted. However it was a further 5 years before I was in a position to submit a successful application to the Big Lottery which invested a 3-year award to fund the setting-up of a permanent workshop with paid staff that could recycle bikes all year around.
Our first premises were in the old Brewery building in Ely bridge – a charming building but with no heating and toilet facilities that left a lot to be desired. Jon Howes was employed as workshop coordinator (still in post today!) and Russel Howells as volunteer coordinator (still in post today!)
Within 3 years the enterprise was self-financing- through the sales of refurbished bikes and maintenance training courses. In 2014 we moved to bigger premises here in Gabalfa – with much better toilets and we installed heating as a priority. We also installed a purpose-built training room for our courses. Maz joined the team shortly after the move and a couple of years later we recruited Nic to head up our new repair service.
2020 saw the latest building developments – with the workshop doubled in size and a new mezzanine floor with a canteen area and new state-of-the-art training room. To date over 4,000 bicycles have been refurbished and over 1,000 people have trained with us in bike maintenance – and we’ve picked up the odd award along the way too. We run our outreach Dr Bike sessions throughout South Wales and our Asylum Seeker and Refugee project in Splott has now been running for 6 years (well done Maz). 2021 has seen Alex and Chris joining the team taking us to a team of 7. A special mention must also be made to the many volunteers who have been integral to our bike refurbishment program over the past 11 years
And what of the Butetown Youth Pavilion ? Well – I carried on running those weekly sessions as a part-time youth worker for another 15 years – finally hanging up my spanners last autumn.