Carmarthen - Carmarthen Park

Morfa Lane : SA31 3BT Carmarthen - Carmarthen Park : Image credit People Carmarthen - Carmarthen Park : Image credit Mike Walters photography
The South Wales Echo of April 25th 1899 looked forward to a new track being built at Carmarthen stating that the Carmarthen surveyor Mr Finglah would build a concrete track "better than Aston". The track was duly built at the New Park and Recreation Ground which was just across the road from the old Mansel Grounds track. The opening meeting of the new track was held on Easter Monday April 16th 1900 with an enormous crowd of 12,000 people. Further events in the opening year were held at the track on Whit Monday and August Bank Holiday.

The concrete track is 405.38m (just over 440 yards) around, 22 to 25 feet wide and banked to 8 feet. The original track was constructed of 405 concrete panels. The track had a grandstand to seat 370 spectators. It is believed to be the oldest outdoor concrete velodrome in continuous use in the world.

There were lots of races at the Carmarthen track in the 1900's. The meeting on Whit Monday 1905 drew a crowd of 6,000 people to watch a 1 mile bicycle novices handicap, ½ mile and one mile open handicap races and a 3 miles point-to-point race. There was also a performance by AM Schreyer an American aerial cyclist and high diver, interest was no doubt intensified by the fatality at Hastings the previous week. He successfully pedalled down a 200ft chute and flew 100ft through the air, leaving his bicycle and diving into a tank of water.

The Whit Monday meetings continued, but there was a general fall off in racing activity at the track. The 1955 NCU Racing Handbook describes the track as cement, 440 yards, 19 feet wide and 18½ degree bankings.

The track continued to be fairly quiet and was obviously deteriorating and in 2015 a risk assessment found that the velodrome was unsafe. A project was put in place to resurface the track, again with a concrete surface.

The track was re-laid in concrete by GD Harries at a cost of £500k, funded by Carmarthen Town Council, Carmarthenshire County Council, Sports Wales and Welsh Cycling. Pouring concrete on a slope was achieved by pouring into a series of bays, continually moving from bottom to top of each bay. The construction required 570m³ of concrete. The concrete velodrome re-opened at the end of October 2017.

Carmarthen Park track is used by the public and by local cycle team Towy Riders. The pitch inside the velodrome is the home of Carmarthen Quins RFC.

Carmarthen - Carmarthen Park : Image credit GD Harries Carmarthen - Carmarthen Park : Image credit From the authors own collection Carmarthen - Carmarthen Park : Image credit Mike Evans - Photographs of Old Carmarthen Carmarthen - Carmarthen Park : Image credit Nicola Wiki Commons
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Photos : People's Collection Wales, Mike Walters photography, GD Harries, From the authors own collection, Mike Evans - Photographs of Old Carmarthen, Nicola Wiki Commons