|St Athan Boys' Village|
St Athan Boys Village
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Development and operations
Philanthropist David Davies, 1st Baron Davies of Llandinam and president of the Ocean Coal Company and his Welfare Officer Captain J. Glynn Jones, co-founders of the Boys' Clubs of Wales were first inspired to build a holiday camp for the sons of miners from the South Wales Coalfield in the early 1920s after attending a youth camp in Kent. Opened on August 8, 1925, the camp offered them an escape from the polluted and unhealthy atmosphere of Valleys industrial towns and a place to play and be free, as well as being close to the nearby beach.
The buildings included a dining hall, dormitories, a gym, swimming pool, workshops and a church. There was also a full-sized cricket pitch, putting green, tennis courts, football and rugby grounds and a pavilion. A War Memorial in the centre of the complex commemorated men from the coalfields who had lost their lives in the two World Wars
The camp was requisitioned in 1940 for military use but returned to civilian use in 1946. In 1962, the centre was refurbished and a youth hostel opened on site as well as facilities for teaching work-related skills such as mechanical engineering.
Use of the village declined with the growth of cheap holidays abroad and the decline in coal mining in the Welsh valleys. In 1990, the Boys' Clubs of Wales, the organisation responsible for running the camp, went into administration, forcing the site's closure.
After closure, the site was used for residential Bible courses by various church groups. Sold in 2000 to a new owner, it was rented to a family who lived in the former caretaker's cottage and used the yard for farm storage. When they moved out in 2008 it was taken over by airsoft enthusiasts but with no on-site security it soon became a target for metal theft, vandalism and arson. Various buildings on site were subsequently demolished from 2008 due to extensive fire damage, including the Sir Maynard Jenour block (named after the Welsh industrialist) and the recreation buildings. The swimming pool roof which collapsed some years after the site's closure was also removed.
In 2010, the owner placed the site on the market. Unprotected by any form of conservation order, the site could be cleared for redevelopment.
In June 2011 the area was secured with gates and fences, as well as large boulders and rubble to deter vehicles from parking near the site, but by 2012 most of these had themselves been vandalised.
As of late 2013 the site has been divided into 6 building plots, each plot has planning permission to convert the existing buildings into residential dwellings. As of Nov 2013 3 of the plots appear to have been sold STC. The war memorial will remain in the center of the cul-de-sac.
In April 2016 a Planning application was made to produce 40% affordable housing by demolishing all buildings and redeveloping the church and caretaker's bungalow.
In popular culture
In 2011 the English band Deaf Havana filmed the video to their song "I'm A Bore, Mostly" there. The graffiti featured in this video is genuine.
In 2011 the BBC aired a short film "Boys' Village" starring students of Stagecoach Theatre Arts and Cardiff High School on BBC2 (Wales). The film was subsequently released on DVD as part of the Peccadillo Pictures release Boys On Film X.
In 2012, Welsh hardcore band Brutality Will Prevail filmed the video to their song " The Path" there.
Popular rumours persist about the village being haunted or plagued by a troubled past. To date, no evidence has been found to support these claims.
- Anonymous (2008). "Timeline 28-08: A history of the Boy's Club Movement in Wales" (PDF). Clubs for Young People Wales. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Boys Village". Derelictmisc.org. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "Boys Village". BBC. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
- "Boys Village". Iris Prize. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
- AFTER TEN YEARS, A Report of Miners' Welfare Work in the South Wales Coalfield, 1921 - 1931. Published by The Ocean Area Recreation Union.
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