The present day Maindy Centre occupies the site of a derelict brickworks and flooded clay pit which became known as Maindy Pool. The pool was dangerous, with precipitous sides and water of unknown depth. A youth drowned there in 1919, following which there was much public concern and pressure upon the Cardiff Council to ensure that the site was made safe. The owner of the site, Lord Bute, offered to give it to the Council on the condition that the Council would clear and fence the site, fill in the pool and maintain the land as a public open space. The Council did not accept these terms until 1922, when a scheme was proposed to use unemployed labour to fill in the pool.
The work was carried out in 1923, aiming to fill the pit with soil. Although a stretch of land was levelled to the north of the pit, no impression was made on the pit itself, as was reported in the Western Mail:
"The excavation of the banks and the tipping of the soil are now nearly completed, and the £9,000 (the remaining £2,000 odd was for fencing) is almost exhausted... The cavity was estimated at about 300,000 cu. yards. It is estimated that about 75,000 cu. yards of material has been shifted and tipped into the cavity, but up to the present there are no signs of soil reaching the water level. The result is that it is now proved that after an expenditure of £9,000, the water surface will, if anything, be greater than ever, and the depth of the pool will still be too great to make it safe as a boating lake, or for any other purpose. The water area must be enclosed by unclimable railings, and the pool will remain. All that can be claimed as a really beneficial result is that some acres of ground around the pool have been cleared, and will be convertible into a little park or recreation ground for the Maindy district."
The filling of the pool with household refuse continued intermittently. Meanwhile plans were formed to provide a recreation ground on the land to the north of the pool, separated from it by an unclimbable fence. In November 1926 the Parks Committee approved a layout for the recreation ground and an entrance from New Zealand Road.
Maindy Recreation Ground was opened on May 5th 1928, providing five hard tennis courts and a children's playgouund. A bowling green had been constructed during the previous winter,but it was not opened for play until May 1929. A.A. Pettigrew reported that the turf was obtained from the Pengam foreshore, and that it proved to be very unsatisfactory. Nonetheless the green was a great attraction and a second one was constructed in 1930, opening for play in 1932.
The Parks Department Inventory of Parks Buildings and Equipment, compiled for insurance purposes in April 1938, included the following information for Maindy Recreation Ground:
In the late 1930s there were proposals to level the Maindy Pool site and to provide a municipal cycle and running track there. The Parks Committee authorised a layout for a new sports and recreation ground in 1938 but it did not at that stage approve the cycle and running track. In January 1939 the City Engineer wrote that "rapid progress is being made with the completion of the filling of Maindy Pool. It is anticipated that by the end of April this work will be completed as far as refuse disposal is coincerned. Work will immediately be proceeded with to cover the area with soil and develop it into recreation grounds and gardens." In April 1939 the Committee received a report that an application had been submitted to the National Fitness Council for a grant to carry out the development.
The 1939-45 war intervened before any work could be undertaken. During the war there was an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) wardens' post at Maindy Pool, as well as a first aid post and decontamination, cleansing and rescue centres. Part of the Maindy Pool site was used for wartime allotments and was still occupied in December 1945, when the Parks Committee agreed to give the tenants six months notice to quit expiring 31st October 1946. Meanwhile the Committee also approved a new layout for the site (now known as Maindy Park) costing £29,500. The Maindy Stadium was part of this plan. A cycle track was added to the plan in 1949: in July the Parks Committee accepted a tender for the construction of a reinforced concrete cycling track costing over £8,000. In October 1950 it was reported that the contractor had started work on construction of the cycle track.
The official opening of Maindy Stadium was arranged for Monday 14th May 1951 at 2:30pm, and the Rt. Hon. Lord Luke of Pakenham, Chairman of the National Playing Fields Association, was to perform the opening ceremony. The stadium hosted a number of Festival of Britain events in that year, and was also one of the venues for the Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff in 1958. A proposal that it be renamed The Empire Stadium was not approved. The Empire Games running track was at Cardiff Arms Park but it was later removed to allow rugby to be reinstated at the Arms Park. In August 1958 it was agreed that the track materials would be transferred to Maindy Stadium and re-laid on top of the existing track by En Tout Cas, the specialist firm responsible for providing the Games track at the Arms Park.
Described as "the finest of its kind in South Wales" Maindy Stadium could hold approximately 20,000 people, including covered accommodation for 5,000 spectators. In the 1960s it was the venue for all major athletics and cycling events taking place in South Wales.
The stand was demolished in 1986, as it required costly repairs for which finance was not available. Maindy Centre is now a leisure centre and its facilities include a cycling velodrome, a swimming pool and a full size football pitch.
In 2013 the Council proposed that several bowling greens be closed to save money, the Maindy greens among them. (The others were Trelai, Llwynfedw Gardens, Pentwyn, Grange Gardens and Howard Gardens.) The bowling greens at Maindy are now (2016) closed and the Maindy Club, St Joseph's, now plays at Llwynfedw Gardens, which has remained open owing to the efforts of its friends group.
Sources of Information
In general, the information in this section is taken from A. A. Pettigrew, The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff Volumes 4 & 5.
Other sources are: