Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea

Crymlyn Burrows was one of the areas on the foreshore of Swansea Bay, on the eastern bank of the River Tawe, where popular recreation and bathing took place during the late 18th and early 19th century. Swansea also had one of the earliest formal clubs, as evidenced by the notice below in the Hereford Journal for May 1785 reminding subscribers to the Swansea club that the first practices would shortly be taking place, and that members should gather near the bathing hut at Crymlyn Burrows. Clearly their activities met with much success because the minutes for a meeting of the Swansea burgesses, dated 19 July 1786 included the following reference “Charles Collins on behalf of several Gentlemen of this Town hath applied for Leave to level a part of the Open Burrows for Playing of Cricket. The Common Attorneys are to mark out a plot.”

The notice for the practice on Crymlyn Burrows during 1785. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

A blow to these activities on the Burrows came in 1795 when the area, like much of the land immediately adjoining the Bristol Channel, was inundated by a spring tide and for several years the whole area was a muddy morass. By the early 19th century, the Burrows had drained sufficiently for a racecourse to be laid out, whilst cricket and other ball games were played on the sands and the meadowland close to the seashore. Amongst the other folk games staged on the Burrows were bando and cock-fighting, whilst various forms of gambling also took place. Indeed, so successful were these events that local beer-sellers set up tents on the foreshore from which the thirst of the spectators and participants could be amply quenched.

The Swansea Cricket Club used the wicket on Crymlyn Burrows for both their practices and their matches which became possible in the early 19th century as public transport improved. The membership of the Swansea club included many of the local dignitaries, and their patronage boosted the activities and standing of the club in the 1840s, as well as establishing Crumlin Burrows as the town’s recreational area.

From 1856 the Burrows was also the venue for the matches staged by Swansea Normal College – their first being in September of that year against Swansea Grammar School, whilst other clubs in the area also played matches on the Burrows. As more sides used the facility, the Swansea club sought an alternative and exclusive home of their own in a bid to maintain their standing as the town’s premier side. In 1856 they played Neath on a wicket prepared inside the Swansea Racecourse, but this was only a brief venture as they were back in the fields at Crymlyn Burrows the following year for their match against Cardiff. But with the town of Swansea growing rapidly, parts of the Burrows were taken over for housing and industry, and it became clear to the Swansea Club that they needed to move and secure an alternative venue.

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