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Before the First World War the Great Wood (Coed Mawr), then dense woodland, was a favourite resort of its owner; the Earl of Plymouth. Wood shortages during World War I led to nearly all the large trees being cut down and taken away for use as timber. In the 1920s the Earl of Plymouth gave a large part of the wood to the then Cardiff Corporation. Keeping about 10 acres of the wood at the western end, the Earl asked that the remainder be made permanently available for public recreation and walks.

The wood, renamed Plymouth Great Wood after the Earl (who died in March 1923), was opened to the public by his son in May 1923. Rangers were engaged to watch the wood and a shelter built to house them on a site near the quarry chosen by the late Earl in 1928. The shelter in the woods has since been demolished and all that remains is a concrete slab near the entrance to the quarry.

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