Reg Hann is the man we need to thank for Cwmbran Boating Lake. If it wasn’t for him I would not have caught my first fish – a roach in 1985 from peg 19. In the summer of 2011 my five year-old daughter ditched her bike’s stabilisers thanks to the smooth paths and soft grass. It was around the same time that she caught her first fish.
Now don’t get me started on all the happy times I had playing on that helicopter 🙂 Is there a family photo album in the town that doesn’t have a snapshot of their kids playing on it?
Think about your memories of the lake for a moment. If it wasn’t for Reg that site could still be a railway sidings yard. Reg, aged 90, agreed to meet me in the Queen Inn where I listened to his stories as he enjoyed gammon and chips washed down with a few glasses of red wine.
— Nici Jones (@NiciYolk) June 1, 2014
Staff were based in Newport as there was no space in Cwmbran
In 1949 a masterplan was drawn up by Government and Cwmbran was designated, as Wales’ first ‘New Town’. At that time Reg, aged 23 was working for the City of Cardiff as Assistant Civil Engineer. In 1950 he joined the newly formed Cwmbran Development Corporation (CDC) again as Assistant Civil Engineer. He estimates around 5,000 people a day were travelling into the town to work in local factories. In the early days the corporation’s staff had to work out of an office in the old town hall at Newport as there was nothing ready and built in Cwmbran.
“There weren’t enough homes so I was told to get some built quickly.
“The first thing I did was build 70 houses and flats at Ty Newydd Avenue, Pontnewydd. This was on an area of Council owned land and as I recall, allocations firstly went to the Council nominations, then to the CDC and finally to employees of British Nylon Spinners, the recently opened Nylon factory at Pontypool.”
As Cwmbran rapidly grew he knew a town needed green space and areas where children and families could enjoy their leisure time. Think about all the wooded areas that separate out the estates in the town.
This was part of the masterplan to attract 1000s of new residents. After six years, Reg left the development corporation and went to work for Cwmbran Urban District Council. In his new role, as the Council’s Surveyor and Waterworks Engineer, he maintained links with the CDC and helped both organisations work closer together in planning the further provision of new homes, job opportunities and leisure facilities.
Cwmbran Boating Lake and Roath Park Lake in Cardiff
“I spent a lot of my youth on Roath Park lake in Cardiff. I thought something similar would work in Cwmbran by creating an area for people to enjoy and relax.
“The lake was built in two or three years using one mechanical digger. There was no formal budget and it was built by Council staff working in spare time around other jobs.”
Once the lake’s lining was in place the water arrived courtesy of the nearby Cwmbran Brook, that rises near Woodland School in Upper Cwmbran. Finally, the Boating lake was officially opened by HRH Princess Anne on 12th November 1971.
Local Government reorganisation in 1974 saw yet another career move for Reg when he became Clerk to the Council of the newly formed Cwmbran Town Council. He retired in 1987 having completed over 40 years in the service of local government.
I hope to meet Reg again to find out more about some of the nuggets that he shared including his involvement as young Royal Navy Lieutenant in the WW2 D-Day Normandy landings. Reg, a widower, has four children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild. He lives in Pontnewydd.
Why do locals like Cwmbran Boating Lake?
I popped to the lake and asked some visitors why they liked the place. Click play on the Audioboo below to listen to ‘I like Cwmbran Boating Lake because…’ on Audioboo