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Fete & Gala at Cyfarthfa Park

Merthyr Tydfil


One of the highlights of the social calendar in Merthyr Tydfil was the June Fete and Gala in Cyfarthfa Park. The first fete was opened in 1923 by Lord Buckland, because the event was held to honour him for all his many donations to the Borough, which included The Sandbrook and Berry Wards in the General Hospital. The proceeds of the annual Fete and Gala went towards supporting the hospital. There was a carnival pageant starting at the Fountain and then stretching for over two miles to Cyfarthfa Castle. There was a children’s fancy dress parade and many colourful floats but the star attraction was the Fete Queen.  The judging of the various entries took well over an hour. The first fete was such a success that the event continued to be held for 25 years and raised much needed funds for the General Hospital. Thousands attended each year and the main attractions varied; the included a death defying dive from a high platform into a tank of water, tight rope walkers, comedy acts, acrobats, gymnasts. There was even a football match on bicycles!. There were horse and dog shows. Brass bands played in the bandstand and there was fierce competition between the jazz bands. Each Borough ward had stalls to raise money. The young nurses in full uniform were sent around the town with collecting boxes and they returned to Cyfarthfa Park in time for the main event; which was the crowning of the Fete Queen. One of the main organisers of the day was Alderman Lewis Jones, who was secretary and organiser for 17 years.


Viscount Kemsley, the younger brother of Lord Buckland, opened the Silver Jubilee Fete and Gala in 1947 and Lady Kemsley crowned the Fete Queen, Miss Ruth Donovan from Pantglas School, who wore a beautiful pink satin gown ad a red velvet robe. Due to dedicated voluntary work over £60,000 was raised in 25 years for the hospital through this annual event. The coming of the National Health Service altered the whole funding situation since the hospital no longer had to rely on charitable donations. The Fete and Gala changed its emphasis and became the social event to mark the Whit Bank holiday.



Rudddwen Jones at the 1959 Fete & Gala

(Photographs courtesy of Ruddwen Jones)



Fete and Gala Advert - 1948.

(Photograph from the Merthyr Express)


Crowning the Festival Queen

Does anyone know anymore information about this photograph?

Festival Queen - 1936.


Lady Kemsley Crowns Ruth Donovan Fete and Gala Queen

(Photograph Courtesy of Frances Quinlan-Davies)



The Crowd at the Fete And Gala - 22nd May 1948.

A selection of the great crowd who saw the opening of the Fete and Gala on Whit Monday

(Photograph from the Merthyr Express)


Fete and Gala Queen - Margaret James of Abercanaid.

Accompanied by her train-bearers, heralds, pages, flower girls and attendants.

(Photograph from the Merthyr Express)

Mayor, Dignitaries and Thousands at the Fete & Gala, Cyfarthfa Park!


Fete & Gala 1954-1955

Gaynor Jones sends us this photograph,  in which she is the

Carnival Queen's attendant, and can be seen just behind her,

to the left

(Photograph courtesy of Gaynor Jones)


Fete & Gala - Circa 1957

(Photograph Courtesy of Stephen Kerrigan)


Fete & Gala - Circa 1962

Belinda Randles tells us that her mother Allyson Smith (Nee Jones) is Front Left kneeling down. The right herald is Sandra Trewartha.

(Photograph Courtesy of Stephen Kerrigan)


Fete and Gala - 1959.

Rhuddwen Jones is bottom right.

(Photograph Courtesy of Rhuddwen Jones)


Merthyr Fete & Gala - 1965

Rita thinks the Queen's name is Lorraine Pinch.

The four flower girls are on either end in the lightest dresses, they are 3rd row down on the left: Rita McLoughlin, next row down, Lisbeth Hill,

Right Hand side flower girl Janet Burns, and below her Sian Jenkins. All flower girls were pupils at Abermorlais School.

(Photograph Courtesy of Rita Williams)


Fete & Gala - Rhuddwen Jones

(Photograph Courtesy of Rhuddwen Jones)


Fete & Gala - 1967

With Mayor Alice Evans.


Fete and Gala - 1958

Arthur Williams sent in these photographs he took at Cyfarthfa Park, in 1958

(Click on image to enlarge)






Do you have any photographs or information relating to the Fete & Gala, Merthyr Tydfil?

If so, please email us, by clicking the 'Contact Us' button.


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