In response to a number of requests, a bowling green was first constructed in 1894, on a raised section of land at the upper end of the Recreation Ground adjoining Alder Road. It was never used and had to be abandoned, because the grant of land for Roath Park required that it be freely available to the public, and no sections could be enclosed, restricted or subject to admission charges.

This restriction having been subsequently lifted, another bowling green was constructed and opened in 1906, this time located beside the Ty Draw Road entrance to the Pleasure Garden. In 1906 the total sum taken in charges for use of the Roath Park bowling greens was £68-16s-10d. Demand was such that construction of a second green followed almost immediately. A disused cab shelter was obtained from the Watch Committee and re-erected beside the bowling green and tennis courts.[1]

In the early part of 1907 the original green was re-turfed and available for the new season in May, and a new green was created, ready for play in June.[2] Initially the new green, as it was known, was available only for the purposes of matches and tournaments, and a charge of 2d per hour was made for each player. At the same time as the new green a "picturesque pavilion" was also built for storage of bowls, goloshes, etc..[3]

In April 1908 the Parks Superintendent reported on the dissatisfaction felt by players both in regard to the extra charge, and the fact of the green being reserved for matches. Both greens were re-surfaced in the autumn of 1910. The level of the old green was raised in order to improve drainage, and turf was laid which had been taken off the newer green. This was then resurfaced with sea-washed turf from the sea front at Splott Moors.

Initially there was no building provided for bowlers to change their shoes, and the Attendant's Office on the island in the Pleasure Garden was used for this purpose. A.A. Pettigrew recorded that in 1912 a "quasi-rustic" shelter was erected between the two bowling greens to provide changing accommodation for bowlers. However, this was not adequate for providing hospitality when club matches took place, and in the 1920s it was agreed that the Roath Park Bowling Club could erect a tent on the island in the Pleasure Garden for this purpose. Also in the 1920s there was much discussion with local bowling clubs on proposals to provide a proper pavilion, but in the event in 1925 the rustic shelter was enlarged to act as a pavilion for use of bowlers and the general public.

Bowling Pavilion

This building occupies the position of the original rustic shelter, enlarged 1925

By the 1940s a dedicated Bowls Pavilion existed, and in April 1947 it was agreed that electric lighting would be installed in this.[4]

This building was destroyed by fire on the 27th July 1998, following which the site was cleared, and a temporary bowling pavilion and public toilets installed on 1st August 1998.[5] In November it was reported that "a new facility was scheduled to be provided before the start of the next bowls season".[6] The replacement pavilion was designed to be as close as possible to the original in shape, size and appearance.[7] In addition to an insurance settlement it was part-financed with a developer's contribution of £60,000 in respect of the residential development on land to the rear of Ty Draw Road.[8]

The original bowling green constructed in the Pleasure Garden is the north westerly one, now known as the Roath Park green and used by the Roath Park Bowling Club.[9] The second green, now known as the Fairoak green, is home to the Fairoak Bowling Club.[10]

Roath Park bowling green "Hollow tining"

Roath Park bowling green "Hollow tining" c.1985 © John Lee

Sources of Information

In general, the information in this section is taken from A. A. Pettigrew, The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff, Volume 4.

Other sources are:

  1. Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 24th June & 22nd July 1907
  2. Meeting of the Parks, Open Spaces, and Burial Board Committee 22nd April 1907
  3. Cardiff Times and South Wales Weekly News Saturday 27th May 1907
  4. Council Minute Book 1946-47 page 688
  5. Sports and Leisure Committee 24th September 1998 para 1015
  6. Sports and Leisure Committee 19th November 1998 para 1507
  7. Personal commication (MC)
  8. Sports and Leisure Committee 28th January 1999 para 1995
  9. Roath Park Bowling Club
  10. Fairoak Bowling Club