As Glamorgan’s players get ready for the 2023 season by playing matches in Zimbabwe and the UK during March, staff at the CC4 Museum of Welsh Cricket, in conjunction with staff and pupils at Radnor Primary School in Cardiff have put the finishing touches to a special exhibition which celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Welsh county winning the County Championship title in 1948, as well as one of the forgotten legends of cricket and sport in general in South Wales either side of the Second World War.
Over the past few months, the pupils from Radnor Primary have been involved in a project focussed on Herbert Merrett, a former pupil of their school who subsequently became Chairman of Cardiff City FC as well as serving as President of Glamorgan CCC in 1948 when the Club were county champions for the first-ever time.
As a young boy, Herbert, or ‘HH’ played cricket and football in the Canton area of Cardiff before leaving school at the age of fourteen to work in the offices of Cory Brothers, one of the largest businesses at Cardiff Docks. After the Great War, HH became one of the leading figures in the coal industry in South Wales as Chairman of Powell Duffryn and Managing Director of a series of collieries.
HH also became involved with Cardiff City FC during the late 1930s and, as Club Chairman after the Second World War, he oversaw a number of improvements and the rise of the club in the Football League. He also persuaded Wilf Wooller to move from North Wales to Cardiff after he had graduated from Cambridge University to work in the coal trade, with Wilf learning the ropes in the business world alongside HH’s son whilst mixing playing cricket for Glamorgan during the late 1930s as well as playing rugby for Cardiff and Wales. Indeed, it was Wilf who led Glamorgan to the county title in 1948, and Welsh sporting history could have been very different had it not been for the actions of HH Merrett.
A series of special displays, plus a short film and song, have been created by the pupils from Radnor Primary celebrating the milestones in HH’s distinguished business career and his love of sport, using several items which have been kindly loaned by members of the Merrett family. The displays are now available for visitors to the Museum to view, celebrating HH’s work in promoting sport, as well as the 75th anniversary of Glamorgan CCC being County Champions for the first-ever time.
Andrew Hignell, Heritage and Education Co-ordinator at Glamorgan Cricket and the Curator of the CC4 Museum of Welsh Cricket, said, “The story of HH Merrett is a very inspiring one, with a sports-mad youngster rising from a humble background to become one of the leading entrepreneurs in South Wales during the inter-war period, besides being a generous patron of cricket and football.”
“Indeed, it was very fitting that HH should be present at Cardiff General railway station in August 1948 to personally welcome home the victorious Glamorgan team after their Championship-clinching victory over Hampshire at Bournemouth. As we start our celebrations during 2023 for the 75th anniversary of this iconic moment in Welsh sporting history, it has been a pleasure to work with the staff and pupils of Radnor Primary, especially as there is nothing currently in existence celebrating the massive contribution of HH to sport and the wider community in South Wales.”
Ann James, Head of Radnor Primary added, “we have been delighted to work with the Museum of Welsh Cricket and the Community team at Glamorgan Cricket, in paying tribute to the enormous role which HH Merrett played in promoting healthy recreation. There are many lessons for us, as we emerge from the COVID pandemic, especially around mental and physical wellbeing – two things which HH championed. I’m delighted that our school community have been able to learn more about him and his remarkable career.”
Speaking on behalf of the Merrett family, Sheila Derbridge, the grand-daughter of HH, said “my grandfather had a belief in hard work balanced, from an early age, with a passion for sport. He continued, throughout his life, to foster and celebrate the development of sporting life in Cardiff and South Wales. As a family, we are very grateful to Andrew and his team of volunteers at the Cricket Museum, plus the pupils and staff at Radnor Primary, in paying tribute to our grandfather’s immense legacy to the sporting community.”