Track Days Gone By…

I’ve been living in Rhydyfelin for almost ten years, and since moving to the area I’ve been fascinated by the history of the place, but also frustrated at the lack of photographic evidence for lots of it too.

Over the years, I’ve passed a local football ground countless times, and never though much of it. It was only after researching the local railway history that I realised it hadn’t always been a football ground…

hawthorn_race_track_2016_2

The home of Rhydyfelin AFC, 2016

The fact that the grounds of Rhydyfelin AFC are known locally as “The Dog Track”, should have been a dead giveaway. Here’s the modern day view from Google Maps.

hawthorn_race_track_2016

So it turns out that the field used to be a grayhound racing track back in the day, which I find fascinating, because it’s not a sport you see much of in this area at all nowadays. According to what little I can find of the site online, racing began at the stadium in March of 1932, and ended sometime in the  1970s. Frustratingly, I can’t find any pics online of the site in it’s racing heyday. But here’s what I have managed to dig up…

Used by kind permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries

Used by kind permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries

In use as a rugby field, here’s the site in the late 1970’s.

hawthorn_race_track hawthorn_race_track2

Here are two aerial views of the Steinburg & Sons Alexon clothing factory, from April of 1950. But just sneaking in at the bottom left corner – the grayhound racing track! Football goalposts are visible instead of rugby posts at this point, but you can clearly see part of the actual track! I recall that up until a recent update on Google maps, the modern day aerial view of the site did show the faint outline of the racetrack, but recent landscaping appears to have finally gotten rid of it.

And going back even further, just for shits n giggles, here’s a turn of the century view of Cardiff Road, looking up to where the racetrack site would eventually be built (in the distance, on the right, past the trees).

Used by kind permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries

Used by kind permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries

If anyone does happen to have any other pics of the old racetrack, drop me a line – I’d love to see ’em.

 

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