Cowbridge (1)

Cowbridge,  a small market town twelve miles west of Cardiff, in the Vale of Glamorgan staged four County Championship matches in 1931 and 1932. 

Cricket was first played in Cowbridge during the mid-1890s when EH Ebsworth of Llandough Castle decided to lay a wicket in one of his fields, called Cae Wyndham, alongside the main road running  thorough the town.  Ebsworth was the archetypal Victorian country gentleman, with his splendid house containing many tokens of his sporting prowess, including a stuffed brown bear, which Ebsworth had shot whilst on a business trip to Russia.

EH Ebsworth. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

In 1895 Ebsworth led a Cowbridge XI against Bridgend in the first game at Cae Wyndham, and quite fittingly, he scored the first run on the new ground. Ebsworth was a very keen follower of the game, and he  had many good contacts in the cricket world. Through these, he secured the help of  Kent’s Alex Hearne when laying out the wicket, and in the early 1900’s  he employed as groundsman William Russell, the former Middlesex and Norfolk all-rounder who, whilst in South Wales, also played as a professional with Glamorgan.

As the nearby ports of Barry and Cardiff saw an increase in both trade and population, Cowbridge became a most desirable place for the well-to-do, seeking  a home away from the smoke, noise and evils of  the industrial  settlements. By 1906 there were enough gentlemen in Cowbridge for a club called the Cowbridge Wanderers to be formed together with a tennis and squash club.  Initially, these organisations used Cae Wyndham for a modest rent from Ebsworth, but in 1913 they merged to form the Cowbridge and  District Athletic Club, and they purchased Cae Wyndham from Ebsworth.

The cricket club continued to expand after the Great War, gained the support of many prominent families living in the Vale. The Cowbridge ground was a popular venue for games staged by wandering and touring elevens, and with many pleasant public houses and hotels nearby, Cowbridge became a very popular place to play cricket.

The club`s members also included many of the area`s leading sportsmen.. One of these was Johnnie Clay, the Glamorgan amateur, whose family lived in nearby St. Hilary. Despite taking over the county captaincy in 1924, Clay continued to play an active role with the Cowbridge club. He needed little invitation to escape from the pressurised world of professional cricket to the more relaxed atmosphere at Cae Wyndham and games with many of his friends from the business and social world of South Wales. Indeed, it was largely as a result of Clay`s influence, that the Cowbridge ground staged Championship cricket during the early 1930s.

Click here to read more about the history of cricket at The Broadshoard in Cowbridge.

A view of the Cowbridge ground shortly before the Second World War. Photo Credit – Jeff Bird / Cowbridge CC.