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SOMERTON PARK GREYHOUND STADIUM SUMMARY

ADDRESS———————————–

Somerton Park
Somerton Road
Newport
Gwent.
South Wales.

POSTCODE———————————–NP19 0GD

LOCATED————————————-One and a half miles east of Newport town centre, in the district of Somerton.

ORIGINAL SITE——————————Farm grazing land.

DATE CONSTRUCTED———————Developed during the years prior to the First World War.

DATE VENUE OPENED——————–1912 being home to Newport County Football Club.
Meaning other sports may have taken place prior to the arrival of Greyhound Racing.

FIRST MEETING—————————–November 17th 1932.
Greyhound Racing only.

LICENSED OR INDEPENDENT———-NGRC.
All venues covered would have to be licensed with the government, licensed suggested in this section would refer to tracks operating under NGRC Rules.

INSIDE OR OUTSIDE HARE TYPE——Dont know.
Please note that the Electric Hare suggested is only a guidance, and would have been in operation for a certain amount of time at this venue. Although it is not necessarily guaranteed that it was operational all the time, as other types of lure may have been used and updated as time progressed.

DISTANCES———————————–450 yards.
Please note that most racing venues distances had become varied throughout the years, the ones given above were at once point set and offers only a guidance to the track size.

CIRCUMFERENCE—————————Dont know.
Please note that alterations at most racing venues throughout its existence would see that the circumference of the track would vary, the one shown above offers only a guidance to the track size.

BIG RACE NAMES—————————None known of.

STADIUM SHARED WITH——————Professional Football and Speedway.

LAST MEETING——————————-October 1963.
Greyhound Racing only.

STADIUM CLOSURE DATE—————-1993
Meaning other sports may have taken place after Greyhound Racing had ceased.

STADIUM DEMOLITION——————-October 1993.

BUILT ON SITE——————————-The Somerton Park Housing Estate.
In some cases, structure’s that originally covered the venue after the stadium had been demolished, may have been themselves demolished too, so the one described is more likely to be the one which now presently covers the site.

EVIDENCE LEFT TODAY——————-Nothing known of.

FURTHER COMMENTS——————–Somerton Park was the sister track to the venue at Cardiff Arms Park.

A 1956 OS Map. Courtesy of Old Maps.

This 1958 advert shows the link between the two venues.
An aerial view from 1959, look closely you can just about see the track lighting.
Two captions printed in The Greyhound Owner newspaper announces the closure of Newport, above dated August 29th 1963, below dated November 14th 1963.
Two images dated 1993, notice the curvature of the walls.

The next Greyhound Racing venue I am about to describe, lands in the category of the sport promoting itself at a Football League venue. This venue was known as Somerton Park, the home of Newport County Football Club, I say “was” simply because the venue does not exist anymore. Somerton Park began to develop just prior to the outbreak of the First World War, hosting its first official football match in 1912. By 1920 after much success in the Southern League, Newport County became one of the original members of the newly formed Third Division South. But success in the Football League had been sparse, and by the end of the 1930-31 season their application to continue league football was rejected. During 1931 events had taken a down turn, not only the football club playing non-league football again, but also Somerton Park being sold to The Cardiff Arms Park Greyhound Racing Company. The football club would now continue as tenants at Somerton Park, but it was the greyhound company who would invest heavily to transform the stadium in to a venue that would stage racing under NGRC rules. Sporting activities began to look rosy again, as the football club had been re-elected back into the Football League in time for the 1932-33 season, and the greyhounds had staged their inaugural meeting on the 17th of November 1932. An estimated crowd of around 3,000 attended the evening meeting, but it turned into a total disaster, as the track lights failed due to fuses blowing continuously. Eventually the electricians lost their battle, forcing the meeting to be abandoned after just five races. But Somerton Park soon settled as a dual purpose stadium, with both sports attracting good crowds and both running a profitable business, and also a period that would see the football club set a new ground record attendance of 24,268 in an encounter against Cardiff City in a Third Division South fixture during 1937. But the intervention of the Second World War, had seen all sporting activities come to a halt at Somerton Park, but once regulations had been reviewed, Greyhound Racing was given the go ahead to continue. The review had allowed meetings to take place during day light hours, which meant Greyhound Racing would now switch to Saturday afternoon meetings, meaning that the football club would have to look elsewhere to play home matches. The war years had witnessed Greyhound Racing’s busiest period, with attendances exceeding 3,000 regularly, but Somerton Park had new tenants with the Civil Defence Corps using it as their base. The end of hostilities has seen the return of the football club, moving back in as tenants to the greyhound company once more. By the early 1960’s attendance figures for Greyhound Racing had slumped dramatically to around the three hundred mark, and in 1963 Somerton Park was purchased by Newport Council for just £30,000. Sadly, the sale had been the end of Greyhound Racing at Somerton Park, seeing a crowd of 700 attending its final meeting during October 1963. Football continued to be the venue’s main attraction, but by 1964 another sport, Speedway Racing had arrived, with Newport Wasps hosting meetings continuously for the next twelve years or so. By the end of the 1960’s the stadium had transformed itself into a mass of amber and black, with stands, outbuildings and crush barriers painted in the clubs colours, even outside of the ground proudly showed off the livery as well. With Speedway having moved on during 1977, football continued as its sole purpose, seeing Newport County struggle on the pitch during that time. Things did improve, certainly during the 1980-81 season, when Newport County hosted East German side, Carl Zeiss Jena, in the Quarter Finals of the European Cup Winners Cup, with the match broadcasted live on National Television. But the following seasons witnessed a serious decline in the club’s fortunes, as most of its promising players had been sold to balance the books. The late 1980’s had seen Somerton Park becoming exposed due to its run-down condition, with new ground regulations being imposed, meant that a heavy investment was needed just to upgrade the stadium to Football League standards. Even worse was to follow as by May 1988, Newport County had hit rock bottom, not only was the tax man knocking on the door regarding tax arrears, but also the club had suffered relegation from the Football League, meaning the following season playing in the Football Conference. Further disaster would follow as on the 27th of February 1989, and after 29 matches and with just four wins under their belt, along with debts hovering at around £300,000, Newport County Football Club folded. Although the football club had gone, Somerton Park held on for another four years, becoming the home to a newly formed amateur football club, but by then arrangements had been made to bulldoze the venue in October 1993, after it had been sold to developers. Today, no evidence remains of this once thriving sporting venue, but what does remain is a reminder, is that the appropriately named Somerton Park Housing Estate now pinpoints its once location.