Improvements to transport facilities (both public and private) was one of the factors which helped the spread of cricket throughout Wales during the 19th and early 20 centuries..

Before improvements to the public transport system were made, the playing of fixtures was very difficult. The opening of railway lines and the introduction of cheap fares allowed fixtures and tours to be arranged.

The earliest clubs

The activities of the earliest cricket clubs in Wales, just like those in England, during the 19th century, were largely restricted to matches between their members, similar to the current day activities of golf clubs. Therefore notices, such as the one below from Swansea in 1785, would call members to assemble for competitions amongst themselves. In this case, the intrepid cricketers would play matches on the sandy beaches overlooking Swansea Bay, travelling by foot or by a horse-drawn coach.

The notice from the Hereford Journal for Swansea CC in 1785. Credit – British Library / Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

The arrival of the train

Inter-club fixtures became possible from the mid 19th century onwards following the construction of railway lines, built largely to transport the industrial products and raw materials, such as coal and iron ore, out of the region. The availability of train services to a number of towns and villages throughout the region allowed clubs to arrange fixtures.

The image below shows a train on the newly-opened Vale of Neath line during the mid 19th century. It was on trains such as these on many Saturdays that the intrepid cricketers would travel for their away matches.

A coloured print showing the celebrations for the opening of the Vale of Neath Railway.
Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives

Going on tour

The opening of railway lines across the North Wales coast during the second half of the 19th century also gave a massive boost to the spread of the game. By the early 20th century the availability of regular and affordable services to these resort towns meant that many English clubs could undertook a tour of North Wales.

The image below shows an unidentified team, plus their families, enjoying themselves in the Llandudno area around 1920.

Players in the Llandudno area relax after a game. Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Travel by car

By the early 20th century, some teams and their supporters travelled in open-air charbancs. Since the 1950s, travel by private car or coach has become the preferred option for club cricketers. From the 1970s onwards Glamorgan players – such as Greg Thomas seen below in 1985 – have travelled to games in sponsored cars.

Greg Thomas takes possession of his sponsored car in 1985.
Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.