Bryn-y-Mor Field, Swansea

The Bryn-y-Mor Field was one of the grounds used by Swansea Cricket and Football Club prior to the development of the St. Helen’s ground on the foreshore of Swansea Bay.

The tree-lined, Bryn-y-Mor Field was situated a mile or so inland, and alongside the Uplands Hotel, a fine local hostelry which quickly developed into a popular meeting point for the healthy young sportsmen of the town and a place where they could celebrate a victory, or drown their sorrows after a defeat, besides being a place where they could get changed and also hold meetings.

They first used Bryn-y-Mor Field in 1868 after reaching an agreement with its owner Robert Eaton, and in July of that year, their new home staged the Club’s contest against the Australian Aborigines in July 1868. The match was organised by JTD Llewelyn, the cricket-loving squire of Penllergaer, and during the Spring of 1868 he made contact with Charles Lawrence, the manager of the touring team who, as in all of the other fixtures, made two offers – either his team received a payment of £200 outright for their appearance in a two- or three-day match against the local side, or alternatively Lawrence and his men collected all of the gate money, covered all of the expenses and gave £20 to the local side.

A postcard of the 1868 Australian Aborigines, possibly at the Bryn-y-Mor Ground. Image Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives

Committing to a payment of £200 was out of the question for JTD so he therefore agreed to the latter format, with a two-day match at the Bryn-y-Mor ground on 6 and 7 July, followed by a third day on which the visitors could raise further revenue for themselves with a display of boomerang throwing, spear-throwing, sprinting and hurdling. Fittingly, JTD led the Swansea team and took 6/64, but the tourists proved far too strong for the locals, winning the contest by an innings on the second afternoon, before entertaining a decent-sized the crowd the following day with their athletic prowess before departing by train for their next fixture at Bradford in Yorkshire.

The ground was also used for football during the winter months. Swansea’s first fixture, played against Neath on 23 November 1872 was played under Association rules, but during 1874 they switched to the rugby union code, and on 28 November they played their inaugural fixture against the young men of Llandovery College. However, the winter activities meant that by the Spring the field was often unusable for cricket and as one cricketer of the time commented “the upshot of playing football over the cricket pitch was that the wickets only began to get in decent condition about the end of August.”

In 1873 Robert Eaton agreed for the field to be used for house building and the following summer was the final year of cricketing activity on the Bryn-y-Mor Field.

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