Original features

October 15, 2009

Celebrating its centenary this month, the Grade II listed Main Building at Cardiff University is one of the city's major landmarks.

The university had previously been located on the site of the Old Infirmary on Newport Road, which now forms part of its Queen's Buildings.

In designing a flagship replacement, the ecclesiastical architect William Douglas Caroe envisaged something on a grand scale.

The main structure is in a Neoclassical style inspired by Trinity College, Cambridge - where Mr Caroe studied - and a number of other Oxbridge colleges.

But the money ran out and ambitious plans for fountains, manicured lawns and a great hall had to be abandoned, although the wings were eventually completed in the 1960s.

The Main Building has a usable area roughly the size of four football pitches and houses the Science Library as well as the schools of earth and ocean sciences, chemistry and part of biosciences. The central staircase is made of Welsh marble.

A three-tonne marble statue of the university's first principal, John Viriamu Jones, sits in the hall.

Over the external entrance, a message carved in Portland stone reads: "Nerth gwlad ei gwybodaeth - A nation's strength is in its learning."

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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