Larger scale Ordnance Survey maps from the 1940s show a space marked "Recreation Ground" where Hill Snook Park now lies. Mysteriously it is not shown on OS maps from the 1950s but reappears on maps in the 1960s. On OS maps from the 1970s onwards it is named Hill Snook Park and has access shown from Ty Wern Road as well as from Caerphilly Road.
It is commonly believed that Hill Snook Park was given to the Council by Alderman RG Hill-Snook, chairman of the Parks Committee from from 1919 to 1947 and Lord Mayor in 1930. In reality, Parks Committee minutes indicate that the ground was purchased by the Council following negotiations with the owner, the Tredegar Estate, that began in 1934. The purchase, costing £800 was completed in November 1935.
In October 1936 plans were approved for drainage of the ground, by laying a drain diagonally north east to south west into an existing ditch discharging into Pantbach Brook. It was also agreed to erect noticeboards stating that the land was now owned by the Council and available for recreation. The work for draining, levelling and fencing at a cost of £450 was authorised in December.
The ground was officially named Hill-Snook Recreation Ground at a Parks Committee meeting in June 1938. It was also agreed that notices be erected bearing the name, and that the Lord Mayor be invited to open the ground on a date to be arranged.
No official opening ceremony appears to have taken place but the recreation ground (sometimes called Hill-Snook Park) was in use by late 1938. In November the Parks Committee instructed the Chief Parks Officer to report on the suitability of the land at the Caerphilly Road end for construction of a bowling green, but the proposal seems to have been taken no further.
The Committee received a request in May 1939 from local residents wishing to use a pitch for practice cricket games, and for matches to be played later in the summer. Permission was granted for practice play but not for matches to be held. Later that year it was agreed that cricket matches could be played for the 1940 season, after the Committee received an application from Waun Fawr Cricket Club.
Later that year, in November, the Committee was informed of flooding at Hill-Snook Park. The Chief Officer and the City Engineer were instructed to "rectify this state of affairs" as soon as possible.
In September 1940 the attention of the Committee was drawn to the condition of the railway line bank and the need for it to be cleaned. It was greed that this would be done and that shrubs be planted.
Hill-Snook Recreation Ground appears to have been put to no special wartime use between 1939 and 1945. It seems not to have been routinely available for organised games either. Llanishen Wanders Soccer Club applied in May 1943 to use the ground for its home fixtures. The Committee replied that this was not possible and instructed the Director of Parks (previously known as the Chief Officer) to inform the Club of facilities at other parks. Subsequently in 1944, owing to the shortage of playing fields elsewhere, the Director was authorised to use the Hill-Snook ground for recreation purposes.
In late 1945 the Committee agreed to accept the tender of Messrs R. & T. Evans for £615-16s-3d to construct a public convenience in the recreation ground. An earlier decision of the Committee was to place the public convenience at the entrance to the ground, presumably the Caerphilly Road end.
During the 1950s there was concern about the drainage at Hill-Snook Park. In January 1952 the Parks Director reported on the condition of the ground and requested instructions regarding its use for organised games. The Committee decided that it would stay in use for the remainder of the football season that year.
Provision for oganised sports was not made in the summer months but the ground could be used for other events. The 62nd Cardiff Scout Group was given permission to use the park free of charge, for a fete on a Saturday in June 1956. In 1961 the British Oxygen (Cardiff) Sports and Social Club was allowed to use the park for a sports day and fete to be held in July or August.
In 1957 the Council agreed that a new culvert could be laid through the recreation ground by private developers of new housing to the north of the ground, from which surface water could be discharged into the ditch feeding into Pantbach Brook.
Former Cardiff Parks Horticultural Officer Terry Davies recalls that in his experience in the 1970s and 80s, the ground was always boggy (wild flowers that liked such conditions did well there) and the field was often flooded. One football pitch was marked out. Cricket pitches were not laid out because the ground was usually too wet for the grass to be cut until mid summer. The line of Lime trees along the railway line boundary was mature in the 1970s. There was a large playground on the other side of the fence line with access from Ty Wern Road. At a meeting in September 1971 the Parks Committee decided to purchase playground equipment for various open spaces including Hill Snook Park.
The access from Ty Wern Road is strictly speaking via a separate space, Ty Wern Open Space, though there is no apparent boundary between that and Hill Snook Park.
The line of Lime trees is still present and remains smaller that expected for its age owing to the wet conditions. Most recently the ground has had no sports pitches marked out, being too wet to use during the football season, and not drying out for the grass to be cut until well into the summer months.
Sources of Information