Neath Port Talbot Council have approved a proposal to dedicate its Talbot Memorial Park as a ‘Centenary Field’ under a national initiative to commemorate the First World War.
The initiative is being led by the Fields in Trust movement (formerly the National Playing Fields Association) and the Royal British Legion.
The Centenary Fields programme 2014-18 aims to protect at least one green space in every local authority area across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to commemorate the centenary of World War One.
These sites can be War Memorial Parks, Recreational Grounds, Memorial Gardens and parks and recreation grounds that contain war memorials.
Alexandra Park, Penarth, was unveiled by Vale of Glamorgan Council as the first Centenary Field in Wales and other local authorities and landowners are now being invited to dedicate sites in their areas.
The Centenary Field initiative aims to secure recreational spaces in perpetuity to honour the memory of the millions of people who lost their lives in World War One.
Through this programme, landowners across the UK are encouraged to dedicate recreational space as a Centenary Field. The programme will commemorate this significant milestone in our history and create a tangible local legacy that will be valued by communities for generations to come.
It is proposed the park will be dedicated for use in the future as a recreational memorial park, for community events to be held and/or allotments.
Notwithstanding the dedication, the council will continue to support and acknowledge the existence of the Friends of Talbot Park group and the use of the grounds by local sports organisations.
The authority will also continue to allow public events that may be organised by the council, friends group or other organisations.
On completion, the authority will receive a Centenary Fields commemorative plaque to display on site and there will be an opportunity to have an unveiling ceremony to mark the occasion and raise awareness of the initiative.
Talbot Memorial Park is regarded as a well-preserved urban public park (established in 1925) containing a war memorial.
The commemorative character of the park is emphasised by the main gate, which is dedicated to Rupert Price Hallowes, VC (1881-1915).
Hallowes, the son of Doctor Frederick and Mary Hallowes, of Dan-y-Ffynnon, Port Talbot - assistant manager of the Mansel Tinplate Works in Port Talbot and a scout leader in the town before the war - was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously on November 16, 1915, nearly two months after he died of shrapnel wounds during fighting in Hooge, Belgium.
According to the London Gazette, the official journal of the UK Government, Hallowes was fearless throughout, taking risks to provide intelligence on enemy positions, braving heavy shell fire to bring fresh supply of bombs and standing on an exposed parapet to urge on his men.
The London Gazette continued: “even after he was mortally wounded he continued to cheer those around him and to inspire them with fresh courage.”
Rupert Hallowes was also awarded a Military Cross for “conspicuous gallantry” at another World War One engagement in Belgium.
Deputy Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council and Chair of Friends of Talbot Memorial Park, Councillor Anthony Taylor said: “As we come up to 2018, the centenary of the final year of World War One, it is fitting we secure a recreational space in perpetuity to honour the memory of the millions of people who lost their lives in the First World War.”
“It will serve as a living legacy and tribute to the bravery of those that made the ultimate sacrifice serving their country.”