Bailey Park, Abergavenny
The "Priory Meadow" was leased to ironmaster Crawshay Bailey for 21 years on 31 December 31 1883. He developed it as a park, putting up gates and railings, forming a management committee and employing a park keeper. Then he opened it to the public.
After his death in 1887, the committee continued to manage the park. In 1894, the Abergavenny Improvement Commissioners raised loans, and donations from several of Crawshay Bailey's family, and purchased the freehold. A Deed Poll retained the name "Bailey Park". The park was later managed by Abergavenny Town Council (successor to the Improvement Commissioners), and then by Monmouthshire County Council.
The National Eisteddfod of Wales was held on the park in August 1913. Some of the ceremonies connected with it were held at a purpose-built stone circle, which you can see at Swan Meadows.
Bailey Park is home to Abergavenny Rugby Football Club. It’s one of Wales’ oldest rugby clubs, founded in the 1870s. During the First World War, several football and rugby matches were played here to raise money for refugees who had fled from German-occupied Belgium. A football match in October 1914 raised £6 10s for the Belgian refugees, who were living at 35 Castle Street.
A swimming pool was opened in the park in 1938. It was an outdoor pool of 39 x 10 metres (128 x 35ft) with a paddling pool and fountain. Bill Edwards, who died in 1960, was employed by Monmouthshire council as its first swimming instructor. He had first taught children to swim in the river Usk beneath Abergavenny Castle. After leaving the army, where he was a physical training instructor, he took up his post at the new pool in Bailey Park.
The pool was kept going by the efforts of the Friends of Bailey Park Pool, who ran a café and raised money for repairs and equipment. But in 1966, Abergavenny Town Council decided that the pool required too much work to meet health and safety regulations and it was closed. The outlines of the filled-in pools can be traced by looking at the floral displays in the beds.
The park also has a children's play area. Events held here include the Steam Fair, the Shire Horse Show, town fairs, band concerts and the Welsh Warrior Festival.