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Thursday, 27 January 2011

UK's Only Purpose-built Handball Court







Llun o Gwrt Pêl-law Nelson a dynnwyd ym mis Medi 2000.
View of Nelson Handball Court taken September 2000. Image/Llun: DI2009_0986
Cwrt Pêl-law Nelson, Morgannwg
Caiff pêl-law ei chwarae drwy ddefnyddio’r llaw i daro pêl galed mewn casyn o ledr yn erbyn ochr tŷ neu eglwys neu, o’r 18fed ganrif ymlaen, mewn cwrt ac iddo gefn agored. Byddai hwnnw fel rheol yn ymyl tafarn. Câi’r gamp ei chwarae o flaen tyrfaoedd i ennill gwobrau ariannol a byddai yno fetio brwd. Mae’n amlwg bod gêm fwy aristocrataidd yr ‘Eton fives’ a gâi ei chwarae mewn ysgolion gramadeg yng Nghymru yn wahanol iawn iawn i’r gêm bêl-law a chwaraeid gan y dosbarth gweithiol – yn broffesiynol, yn aml – ar hyd a lled Morgannwg yn bennaf.

Câi’r bêl ei tharo â chledr y llaw yn erbyn y wal flaen cyn ac ar ôl iddi daro’r llawr unwaith. Yr oedd chwarae’r gêm yn debyg i chwarae sboncen heb racedi, a’r nod oedd cadw’r bêl allan o gyrraedd y gwrthwynebydd ond y tu mewn i derfynau’r cwrt. Âi’r chwarae yn ei flaen tan i gystadleuydd fethu â dychwelyd y bêl. Câi’r sgoriau eu marcio ar y wal ffrynt.

Yn Nelson, Morgannwg, câi’r gêm ei chwarae gyntaf yn erbyn wal wastad tafarn y Nelson (y Village Inn erbyn hyn). Tua 1860, cododd landlord tafarn y Royal Oak gerllaw gwrt pwrpasol i geisio denu cwsmeriaid y Nelson. Efallai i’r mewnfudwyr o Iwerddon a oedd wrthi’n adeiladu Rheilffyrdd y Great Western (y lein o Pontypool Road i Gastell-nedd) a’r Taff Vale – dwy lein a redai drwy’r pentref – gyfrannu at gynllunio’r cwrt (camp dosbarth-gweithiol oedd ac yw pêl-law yn Iwerddon a châi ei chwarae mewn llawer ‘ale fawr’ a fesurai 60’ wrth 30’).

Cwrt y Nelson fu’r un enwocaf o 1880 tan yr Ail Ryfel Byd a chynhelid twrnamaint blynyddol yno o fis Mai tan fis Awst. Byddai llawer o fetio’n digwydd. Ym 1913 codwyd rhwydi gwifrau yno ar ôl i Orsaf yr Heddlu gael ei chodi gerllaw ym 1910. Delir i chwarae pêl-law yno hyd heddiw.

Cysylltau:

Llun o Gwrt Pêl-law Nelson a dynnwyd ym 1965.
View of Nelson Handball Court taken 1965. Image/Llun: DI2009_0719
Nelson Handball Court, Glamorgan
Handball is played using a hard, leather-cased ball with the hand against the side of a house, church or, from the 18th century, in an open-backed court usually near a public house. It was played in front of crowds for money prizes and betting. It is clear that the more aristocratic ‘Eton fives’ played at grammar schools in Wales was a world away from the working-class, often professional, game of handball that was played, mainly throughout Glamorgan.

Played using the palm of the hand, the ball was hit against the front wall before or after it had struck the floor once. Similar to squash without rackets, the object was to keep the ball out of the opponent's reach but inside the bounds of the court. Play continued until a competitor failed to return a ball. Scores were marked on the front wall.

At Nelson, Glamorgan, the game was first played against a flat wall of the Nelson Inn (now The Village Inn). In c.1860 the landlord of the nearby Royal Oak then constructed a purpose-built court to entice customers from the Nelson. Irish immigrants who were working on the construction of the Great Western (Pontypool Road to Neath line), and Taff Vale Railways which both passed through the village, may have had a hand in the design of this court (handball in Ireland was, and is, a working-class sport played in ‘big alleys’ measuring 60’x30’).

The Nelson court was most famous from 1880 until the Second World War with an annual tournament lasting from May - August, accompanied by much betting. Wire netting was erected in 1913 after the building of nearby Police Station in 1910. Handball is still played there today.


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