Tremorfa Park was established in the 1960s on land that was formerly part of Cardiff Airport at Pengam Moors. The airport originated as a municipal aerodrome built by the Cardiff Corporation and it opened in 1931. Military use of the airfield followed from the late 1930s to 1945. It returned to civilian use after the war but moved to Rhoose in April 1954.
After the departure of the airport, the ground at Pengam Moors was allocated for heavy industry, but Splott councillors campaigned to have space temporarily provided for recreation, and the Parks Committee supported their request. Subsequently space was permanently allocated and in March 1961 the Parks Committee approved some £17,000 in the capital estimates for development at "Pengam Airport". Later that year application was made to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for permission to borrow the necessary funds to develop the land for recreational purposes, and to acquire and adapt the former fire school premises owned by the Air Ministry. Part of these premises was to be occupied by the Rover company and part was to be used for changing rooms. Loan consent was received in December for a total amount £20,463.
Ordnance Survey maps from the 1970s onwards show Tremorfa Park on the north east side of Pengam Moors, with the Rover Works to its south. The park was formally opened by the Lord Mayor on April 20th 1964. The following day the Western Mail report of the ceremony described the park as follows:
A 29-acre section of the old Cardiff Airport has been redeveloped into a park by the city council for £22,000.
Tremorfa Park, adjacent to the new Rover Works, was opened yesterday by the Lord Mayor, Alderman C.A. Horwood.
Two years ago it was waste ground, but the addition of 10,000 tons of soil, nearly 3,000 rose bushes and other plants and more than 100 trees has transformed the area and created
an effective "buffer" between industry and housing.
Changing facilities have been provided for teams who will use the five rugby pitches, five soccer pitches and four baseball pitches.
The Park also includes three tennis courts and swings and roundabouts.
The former fire school premises were leased to the Rover company from May 1962, and used for catering purposes until the tenancy ended in July 1967. In September 1968 it was decided that the St. Albans Athletic and Social club would occupy the vacated premises. A lease was agreed for a term of seven years, at £600 per year, plus charges for heating and hot water. Another of the wartime buildings was used as accommodation for parks employees.
Most of the park was occupied by the sportsfield with rugby and football pitches. Baseball diamonds were provided in the summer. Floodlights were installed much later, in 1985, at a cost of £30,000.
Former Cardiff Parks Horticultural Officer Terry Davies worked as an apprentice at Tremorfa Park from spring 1965, and recalls that it was then a new park, constructed only a few years previously, as was the adjoining Rover factory. He described the park at that time as follows:
The entrance was via a gate in the same position as now. On the left was a long herbaceous border in front of a chain link fence crossing the width of the park to a gap in the factory fence. On the right of the entrance was a shorter border which abruptly turned west to follow the broad road which ran the entire length of the park, and was probably formerly an access road on the airfield. This shorter border had choicer planting - phlox and dierama for example - than the longer one and it ran for only a few yards at the side of the road before terminating at a superb little garden centred on a sundial. Around the sundial were several large raised beds of no particular shape set in a lawn. The edges of the beds were made with large rocks and one or two were placed in the middle. The beds were planted with beautiful alpine Rhododendron and Azaleas, while a few more commonplace alpines were planted between as groundcover. On the east side were the flowering shrubs backing the herbaceous border, and the west side was bounded by a Ceanothus hedge.The entrance was flanked by rock walls 4 ft. high and filled with really eye-catching alpines such as Gentiana acaulis and G. sino-ornata. Beyond the sundial garden on the right side of the spine road was an 8 hole miniature golf course.
Going straight on from the entrance was a peculiar tarmaced area containing at least five large raised flower beds, a small circular roundabout with a flowering tree planted in mown grass, and a ground-level circular flowerbed nearest the hairpin fencing (railings with rounded tops), which surrounded the clubhouse and its garden. There was room for tractors with trailed equipment and the 6-ton lorrry to travel around all these - gaps between each raised bed allowed them if necessary, to go around the roundabout and circular flowerbed. The raised beds were waist high, ten to twelve yards long with semi-circular ends and three to four yards wide.
The licensed clubhouse was a large wooden building painted green with a central bar/dance hall at its centre, and with wings containing changing rooms/showers. It stood in a large garden, mainly lawns but also with rose-beds in an ornamental design. The garden was fenced on three sides with 4 ft. hairpin fencing also painted green. On the fourth side of the clubhouse was a long ,wooden building, also green, which contained several residential units and the staff messroom and toilets. On the opposite side of the road was a lock-up with five brick-built garages with roller-shutter doors on each side for garaging tractors, a petrol store, machine store and toolshed. The concrete-based square forming the middle of the area contained tractor-trailed equipment, stacks of fencing, etc.
In the mid 1990s the wartime buildings were still present, comprising the original club house, changing rooms, residential building and the machine and equipment stores in a former hangar. It was reported that the changing rooms in particular had been subject to vandalism and arson and were considered to be beyond economic repair. It was agreed that they be demolished, for which the Council would seek grant aid from the Welsh Development Agency under the Wartime Dereliction Programme. Later that year planning permission was granted for a new clubhouse and 14 changing rooms, a joint development with the St Albans Athletic and Social Cub and Rugby Football Club, subject to the Policy (Finance) Sub Committee approving a capital allocation in 1997/98 for provision of the changing rooms. The scheme included a grant application for reinstatement of the parkland.
In November 1998 a request from St Albans RFC was approved for floodlights to be relocated from the small kickabout area at the north end of the park to a site adjacent to the principal rugby pitch. The St Albans club moved into its new premises in 2002.
In the present day park the ornamental planting around the entrance and the sundial garden no longer exists, though the stonework for the sundial is still present. The mini golf course was reduced to a putting green, at which time a Beech hedge was planted to separate it from the broad road that runs the length of the park. The putting green was also later removed, though the Beech hedge was retained. The Lime avenue near the car park is thought to have been planted in the mid 1990s following demolition of the wartime buildings and reinstatement of the parkland.
In addition to the rugby and football pitches, there is a childrens playground and a five-a-side pitch at the north east end of the park, near the carpark and clubhouse. The five-a-side pitch was installed c.2006 and the playground a few years later. On the southern boundary with the new housing estate (where the Rover Works used to be) a new perimeter footpath was laid by the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation in the late 1990s. Hybrid poplars were planted on the inside of the footpath. Alongside the footpath is a mound and small amphitheatre structure, now derelict.
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