The All Dafen Welfare Ground, known popularly today as Dafen Park, was officially opened on 14th August, 1926. It was a dream realised by the co-operation of works managers and employees in the village.
Dafen Works' manager Llewellyn John chaired the development committee, made up of the John family (founders of Felinfoel Brewery and subsequent owners of Dafen Works) and leading village activists. Llewellyn John made land available, as well did Mr David Harry, Llwynhendy. Members of the local works (both Dafen and Gorse) agreed to contribute a penny a week from their wages (doubled by a works contribution), to raise money for the scheme, and as a fee for use of the facilities and maintenance. During a two-week lay-off in April, 1926, workers gave their services to level the ground with earth from the works reservoir (Dafen Pond). The wet, marshy land was transformed into a recreation ground comprising of a children's corner, two quoiting pitches, three hard tennis courts, a cricket pitch, a bowling green, and later, a soccer pitch.
In opening the park, founder and President Llewellyn John said: “We have gathered together to celebrate a great event in the history of Dafen. I well remember going back many years...when it was difficult indeed to obtain a field for a cricket or football club...and more difficult still to run a club, owing to lack of money...We have now, for the village of Dafen, a ground which not only the young and strong men can avail themselves of, but also the middle-aged and old people, not forgetting the children.”
Mr David Harry said: “The generations of unborn will bless the name of Mr. Llewellyn John for his foresight and generosity in connection with the scheme...The villagers will have a recreation ground available for all time.”
The 'donation' of land by Mr John later appeared to have been ambiguous: after the closure of the works in the mid-1960s it appeared that the company still owned the land, and the Welfare Committee had to make door-to-door collections in order to secure the Park for the village in 1972, at a sum of £2000.
In 1976 the trustees of the Welfare Club transferred the park to Llanelli Borough Council, securing the Park for the future. However, 40 years later, this future is again uncertain, with Carmarthenshire County Council looking to save money by cutting subsidies to grass roots sports, and parks and playgrounds have been listed in an asset transfer programme. In 2014 Carmarthenshire Unified Sports Committee (CUSC) was formed to fight against these plans, and its campaign 'Save Our Parks and Playgrounds' (SOPAP) is currently making compelling arguments. Local resident Mike Bassett is Secretary for CUSC. Find out what the latest news is, and what Mike and CUSC have to say, on the Facebook page:
Main source: Davies, Byron. Dafen Recollections. Llanelli Borough Council, 1996.
Dafen History Overview