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RECREATION
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WELFARE GROUNDS
PLAYGROUNDS AND FOOTBALL FIELD

SYNOPSIS

The following is an account of the events and hardships that were encountered during the planning and construction of play areas for the children of the village. The information is based solely on reports as published in the Merthyr Express between 1905 and 1962

It should not be underestimated and be greatly appreciated how much manual labour went into making the children’s playground and the football field since, with the exception of the use of a bulldozer during the latter stages of the levelling the football field, it was all undertaken by pick, shovel and wheelbarrow. The playground was excavated from colliery spoil tips whilst the football field was hewn out of the clay and boulder ridden mountainside, earth being taken from the eastern side and dumped on the western, river side to make a level surface.

The first mention of a recreation ground was in 1905 but it was not until 1930 that work commenced with completion of only half the project in 1935. The football field took another twelve years to complete with the first football match being played in 1950

During June 1905 it was proposed that Gelligaer Parish Council proceed with a new recreation ground at Fochriw. Whether or not a recreation ground previously existed is not known. However, it took until July 1910 for a report that recommended a site “on the other side of the river about 140 yards long, by 60 to 70 yards in width” to be put forward. Once again a long delay occurred and it was not until June 1920 that another report for a sports scheme for the village was considered. An enthusiastic committee was formed in the village, and the scheme was to include cricket and football grounds, bowls and tennis courts, and an open-air swimming baths. An institute was also to be built by the Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds Company, containing reading room, billiards, gymnasium and dressing rooms. For information on the institute please click on this LINK.

September 1923 saw the Dowlais Miners’ Welfare Scheme intimating that they would be prepared to grant a certain sum to Fochriw for the purpose of providing a recreation ground.

Presumably much unreported work was undertaken in the interim period since it was during December 1929 that the committee chairman reported that great strides had been made during the past month and through the generosity of Mr. A. T. Minhinnock, M.E., manager of the Ogilvie Colliery, the plan of the proposed ground had been completed. The next step was to approach the landowner with a view to purchasing the ground. During the same month a public meeting was held to receive a report on the negotiations in connection with selecting a playing ground for the village, and it was decided to proceed with the scheme and a representative committee was appointed. Members of the committee included representatives from Powell Duffryn Co. (Ogilvie and Groesfaen Collieries) and  G.K.N. (Brithdir Levels and Nantyffin Drifts)

In April 1930, the owners of the land offering a large piece of ground at a very cheap price. This was well received by the members and ways and means were discussed to provide the village with a suitable playing area which led in May 1930 to proposals for a football ground, cricket pitch, and tennis courts. A draft agreement and ground plan were produced and a report on the visit to the proposed site by the organiser of the Welfare Society was presented to the committee.

Since the play areas were a public responsibility, the funding was dependant on the gaining of grants and contributions from the prospective end users, these being the workmen employed by local companies and their families and, during November 1930 at a meeting of the Committee of the Fochriw Welfare Association, Councillor Minhinnick reported that all the Ogilvie workmen from Fochriw, Pentwyn and Penybank. were