Cardiff - Cathay's Park
Commercial Street : CF10 3AT
The Fine Art, Industrial and Maritime Exhibition was held on a 28 acre site at Cathay's Park from May to October 1896. The Graphic of May 9th 1896 describes the exhibition grounds "In the grounds are laid out an ornamental canal for boating, a cycle track of novel design, an arena for sports, and a theatre with real water in the foreground, for spectacular displays." The exhibition attracted 888,000 visitors through the summer.

The timber cycle track was five laps to the mile and cost £2,000 to build. There was a grass running track inside the cycle track.

The Field of May 30th 1896 described the first sports meeting at the track, which was held on May 23rd 1896. "The track for cycling is 352 yards, cross wood plank lap, banked up at the ends to the height of 12ft." There were three bicycle events, a one lap novice's race and ½ and 1 mile handicap races. There were no accidents on the banked wooden track. A further sports meeting was scheduled for June 27th 1896.

There were women's races on the track, described by Mike Fishpool (ref 165). "This started on 4 June with Miss White successfully attempting the ladies' mile record. Half-mile and a quarter of a mile races then followed on 20 June 1896 on an open-air track measuring five laps to the mile and involving seven riders from Britain, France and Italy. Further exhibition races may have taken place after 20 June up to 4 July."

When the exhibition closed, the cycle track was put up for sale by auction with no reserve on November 18th 1897. The track was described in the sale advertisement "The track is constructed of deal battens 4 inches wide, laid about ¼ inch apart, both these and the under-structure being chemically prepared to resist the weather and the floor is sanded to prevent side slipping. The size is five laps to the mile. The track is 16 ft wide and rises in its highest part, with long straights and semi-circular ends. The banking is convex, and is constructed on scientific principles by one of the leading authorities on Track Building." The track did not sell and was offered again on January 31st 1898, when it was sold for £350 to Mr Blackburn for the Concessions Company.

It is not known if the cycle track was used again or went for scrap.

Refs     : [166] [267] [p]