Tonypandy - Mid Rhondda Athletic Grounds

Gelli Road : CF40 1DF Tonypandy - Mid Rhondda Athletic Grounds : Map credit Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps Tonypandy - Mid Rhondda Athletic Grounds : Image credit Wiki Commons
The Rhondda Leader of 22nd March 1902 reported that the Mid-Rhondda Recreation Grounds Company had started work on a new cycle track. "The company has acquired about six acres of land on the Ghelli Common, near the Adare Hotel, Tonypandy, on which they have obtained a lease for 21 years." They intended to build a 440 yards cycle track surrounded by a half mile horse track. The company proposed to spend £2,000 on the project.

The cinder track opened on Easter Monday 1903 "though not so complete as the committee desired." Following the amateur meeting, there was a professional meeting on Tuesday with a one mile handicap race.

A huge crowd attended the 3rd August 1903 meeting which included professional cycling, foot races, walking and trotting races. At the meeting, Bert Howard made an unsuccessful attempt at the one mile record paced by a Bat motorbike with wind shields.

The sports, gala and carnival meetings at Whitsun and August Bank Holiday became regular features at the track for the next decade. The racing included foot and bicycle races and horse trotting was extremely popular at the track.

Tom Churchill, the champion cyclist of Wales, was in a match race in August 1905 against Burgess over quarter, half and one miles races. The match ended in a dead heat.

In 1906 the Mid-Rhondda Social and Athletic Club announced that they "are now laying down one of the finest cycle tracks in the Kingdom." It is probable, if the track was re-laid in 1906, that it was with cinders as it was re-made with asphalt in 1907. Tom Churchill beat the track 5 miles paced record at the August Bank Holiday meeting in 1906.

The Rhondda Leader of April 6th 1907 reported on the Easter Monday meeting "The occasion marked the opening of the newly-laid asphalte (sic) cycle track." The banked track, at 503 yards, was the longest in Wales. The top riders Reynolds of Dublin, Syd Jenkins of Cardiff, JS Benson of New Brighton and Lorraine and Picard of France competed.

There were entertainments at the sporting events; these included the popular balloon ascent with parachute descent by Mr Victor Stanton in 1908.

The ground had the nickname 'The Mush' referring to the rapid, mushroom like, rise to fame of the Mid-Rhondda ground. The Mush became more famous for rugby than cycling, England beating the Wales rugby team there in 1908. Bicycle racing at the ground seems to have disappeared after 1910.

The Mid-Rhondda rugby club switched to football in 1912 and the Mush became their home ground. Mid-Rhondda Athletic Company raised £3,000 in 1913 in their attempt to make the ground the best athletics ground in Wales. The football team went into decline from the mid 1920's and the ground was unused after 1928. The local authority levelled the ground for use as a park in 1933. The Athletic Ground is still a playing field.


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