Trelai Park (Ely Racecourse)

Trelai Park is on the site of Ely Racecourse, which was opened on 30th May 1855 by the Cardiff Race Club.[1] It was an important racing venue until the late 1930s.

A Roman villa was discovered on the racecourse in 1894 and was investigated by Mr. John Storrie.[2][3] The site was excavated in 1922 by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who was then Director of the National Museum of Wales.[4]

In 1931 Cardiff Council bought the racecourse from the Cardiff Race Club for approximately £25,000, intending to use the land for housing among other purposes.[5] Racing was allowed to continue for several years, and it was not until 1937 that the Parks Committee assumed responsibility for the racecourse.[6] The Chief Parks Officer was instructed to present proposals for laying out the space and in September he reported that six football pitches had already been constructed.[7]

During the 1939-45 World War parts of the racecourse were requisitioned by military authorities and a new entrance was required for the area retained by the Council.[8]

After the war the Parks Committee approved plans for a layout and recreational facilities costing £87,309.[9] Work authorised during 1945 and 1946 included the removal of hedges and the levelling and re-seeding of a 15 acre area.[10]

Re-seeding of the remaining 30 acres was planned to be completed by the summer of 1948.[11] Meanwhile Ely Racecourse was the venue for international events such as the international sheep dog trials held from September 11th to 13th 1947. The international meeting of the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association took place there on the 25th and 26th June 1948.[12]

During 1948 the provision of sports pitches progressed and it was reported in June that cricket pitches and nets were now available.[13]

In 1952 a bowling green and a miniature golf course were in the process of construction.[14]

The official opening of the sports facilities at Ely Racecourse by the Lord Mayor was arranged for April 21st 1953.[15] The name Trelai Park was officially adopted in October 1955.[16] Aerial photographs and Ordnance Survey maps show that the miniature golf course was present from the 1950s until the 1980s, and there was also some tree planting in the same space. This area is now woodland and footpaths.

In September 1953 the Parks Committee accepted a tender from S.N. Addicott and Son to build a bungalow in the park to accommodate employees, at a cost of £1644-11s-9d.[17]

In 1979 expenditure of £104,000 was approved to provide new changing rooms at Trelai Park.[18] Construction of these was completed on 5th September 1980.[19]

It was reported in 1986 that Trelai Park had a total of 25 rugby and soccer pitches, such that when all were in use there were 815 players and officials using the park.[20]

In 2013 the Council proposed that several bowling greens be closed to save money, Trelai Park among them. (The others were Maindy, Llwynfedw Gardens, Pentwyn, Grange Gardens and Howard Gardens.)[21]

The bowling green at Trelai Park closed in 2016 and in September 2017 was serving as a community facility. Also in 2017 the tennis courts were converted to an all weather playing surface with floodlights.

Sources of Information

  1. People's Collection Wales Ely Racecourse
  2. Ancient remains at Ely Racecourse: Letter from Mr John Storrie, Western Mail 23rd April 1894 page 6
  3. Ancient remains near Cardiff. Western Mail Friday August 17th 1894 page 7
  4. Prehistoric & Roman Wales by R.E.M. Wheeler, published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1925, pages 257-258
  5. Houses to be built on Ely Racecourse? Western Daily Press, Bristol, Tuesday February 3rd 1931, page 4
  6. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 11th May 1937
  7. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 14th September 1937
  8. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 6th February 1940
  9. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 9th July 1946
  10. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 11th December 1945 & 10th September 1946
  11. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 18th November 1947
  12. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 13th January 1948
  13. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 4th June 1948
  14. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 28th March 1952
  15. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 12th March 1953
  16. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 13th October 1955
  17. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 16th September 1953
  18. Meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 5th March 1979
  19. Meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 1st December 1980
  20. Meeting of the Leisure and Amenities Committee 30th June 1986
  21. WalesOnline February 16th 2013