Trelai Park (Ely Racecourse) during WW2

During the 1939-45 World War parts of the racecourse were requisitioned by military authorities.[1] There was also a public air raid shelter colony supervised by the military authorities.[2]

The aerial photograph shown on this website, taken April 27th 1942, shows a four-gun anti-aircraft emplacement. It also shows what appears to be a decoy fire site to attract enemy aircraft away from their true target. Keith Flynn in his book Canton's war referred to a bombing incident in January 1941 and said that decoy fires were lit on Ely Moors, and a deluge of incendiary bombs fell on Leckwith Hill and Ely Moors, possibly leading the German navigators to bomb the area between the rivers Taff & Ely. west of the City, instead of the strategically important area to the east, between the rivers Taff and Rhymney.[3]

After the war plans were brought forward to develop the racecourse site for recreation and sport, though the requisitioned areas were only gradually released by the military authorities. In 1948 the Council acquired a number of military camp huts on the site and planned to use these as dressing rooms.[4] As late as 1955 the War Department still occupied part of the wartime camp (specifically the "gun site") but intended to vacate it as soon as possible. The Parks Department was already using most of the huts in the camp as changing rooms for the adjoining playing fields.[5]

The former military huts were still in use in the late 1960s, serving as storage for whiting, fertilisers, tools and machinery.[6] The present day car park was built on the space previously occupied by the military huts. The site of the anti-aircraft emplacement is probably now occupied by Ty Gwyn School, immediately west of Trelai Park.

Sources of Information

  1. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 6th February 1940
  2. Meeting of the Air Raid Precautions Committee 2nd October 1942
  3. Keith Flynn, Canton's war [published 2010] page 48
  4. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 9th March 1948
  5. Meeting of the Parks, Baths and Cemeteries Committee 15th December 1955
  6. Personal communication (TD)