St.Helen's: a first-class ground

The inaugural first-class match took place at Swansea during June 1912 as South Wales met the South Africans. Fittingly, Billy Bancroft of Swansea and Glamorgan was in the home side, with the talented cricketer and rugby-player having lived with his father and grand-father in the groundsman cottage on Gorse Lane from which Messrs Bancroft Senior and Junior lovingly tended the turf at the Swansea ground, besides earning additional income from the coaching of youngsters in the nets and mending their footwear from their cobbler’s shop, also alongside the ground.

Glamorgan’s inaugural County Championship match took place at St. Helen’s on 28 May 1921, and later in the season they recorded their first-ever victory in Swansea by inflicting an innings defeat over Worcestershire. The celebrations however were quite muted however as the following day the Australians visited Swansea for a three-day encounter against the Championship newcomers.

During the 1920s, the facilities at Swansea were further improved with the demolition of the old pavilion and its replacement by a much larger edifice. As the image below shows, the pavilion also included an area on its roof for journalists watching the game as well as broadcasters who were commentating on the cricket or rugby matches. Indeed, following the inauguration of a branch of the BBC in Swansea, the Corporation helped to subsidize the creation of the roof-top pagoda in which the commentators could sit.

An image of the pavilion at the St.Helen’s ground in 1930. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.