The Council decided in January 1908 that the land on which St Julians Recreation Ground was to be formed would be " taken on lease from Mr C. H. Firbank for recreation ground and allotments purposes".
Councillor Thomas Parry, the Mayor of Newport, opened the Recreation Ground on Friday 22nd May 1908. The ground was at the north end of the St Julians district, adjoining recently acquired allotments. It was immediately west of the Great Western Railway and comprised an area of 11 acres. The intention was to provide a space where children could play, rather than an ornamental park where they would have to keep off the grass. Swings and see-saws were to be provided the following month.
In August 1908 the Parks Committee agreed that football be allowed "at the far end" of the recreation ground. The following year the Committee decided that owing to the small size of the ground, no cricket pitches would be provided there, but in July 1909 there was mention of "the lower cricket pitch" at St Julian Recreation Ground.
A bowling green was reported to be under construction in February 1911, and in July of that year the Parks Committee agreed to erect a drinking fountain in the recreation ground at a cost of about £4.
In October 1923 the Parks Committee began to consider purchasing the freehold for the Recreation Ground. The Town Clerk reported that this land and the adjoining allotment grounds were held by the Corporation on a lease for 21 years from 25th March 1908. He was instructed to enquire at what price the owner would be prepared to sell the freehold to the Corporation. However in January 1924 the Committee heard that the owner was not keen to sell and it was agreed to take no further action
In September 1926 the Parks Committee was in the process of acquiring land adjoining St Julians, the Glebe Land to the north and west, between the Recreation Ground and the River Usk. The Parks Superintendent was instructed to report on the question of forming football pitches. In September 1927 the Committee asked the Health Committee to start depositing refuse on the Glebe Land, so that part of it would be available for recreation purposes at an early date.
In January 1929 it was agreed that the tool house in the Recreation Ground could be used as a dressing room for cricketers, and in September 1930 the Parks Committee agreed that an additional convenience for ladies be provided.
By February 1937 an area of approximately two acres of the Glebeland was available for use as a childrens playground and the Committee agreed that the necessary work was to be carried out. The following year in April the Committee agreed to the planting of trees along the river bank of the Glebeland, as well as evergreen and foliage shrubs, the Parks Superintendent having recommended such planting at a cost of approximately £45. At the same meeting it was reported that the Health Committee was engaged in tipping operations to raise and level the land, and it was thought that after twelve months it would be possible to provide two playing pitches on the east side of the ground.
During the 1939-45 war there were allotments in the parks for food production. The Parks Committee decided in April 1942 that portions of several parks, including St Julians Recreation Ground, "be set aside for the duration of the war and a reasonable time thereafter for allotment purposes." In the early war years there was an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) shelter in the Recreation Ground.
In September 1947 controlled tipping to level the Glebelands was still taking place. Work for levelling part of the ground, at a cost of £200, was approved in June 1952. In August 1955 it was agreed that 8.15 acres which had been controlled tipped would be prepared with topsoil from another part of the Glebelands and then seeded, at a total estimated cost of £2,220.
A scheme to provide a running track and changing accommodation at Glebelands was first approved in late 1955. The work was estimated to cost not less than £12,000, towards which a grant of £3,240 was offered by the Ministry of Education.
In 1960 planning for a "Northern bypass" for Newport was in progress and it was expected that St Julians Glebelands would be divided. The Parks Committee agreed that terms be negotiated to include access under or over the bypass and provision of railings on the new boundaries matching the existing. Land to the north of the proposed bypass comprising 44.38 acres was to be allocated to education purposes rather than pleasure grounds.
The St Mellons Social Club was granted permission in May 1968 to build and operate a model railway and storage hut at their own expense in St Julians Glebelands.
A disused signal box adjoining the ground had been used for changing accommodation, but by September 1971 was no longer required. The Leisure Services Committee decided that it be demolished at an estimated cost of £350.
In 1990 it was reported that development of the Brynglas / M4 relief road required some loss of land from St Julians Glebelands, including relocation of the Model Railway. The following year it was necessary to relocate the children's play area for safety reasons owing to construction traffic resulting from a proposed indoor bowls centre development.
Sources of Information