Chippenham - Cricket Grounds

Bristol Road : SN15 1NW
Bicycle races have been held in Chippenham at the annual amateur athletics meetings, organised by Chippenham cricket club, since the early 1880's. The grass track meetings up to 1884 were held on a field at Sheldon Road. From 1885 onwards, the sports were held on a cricket field adjoining Hardenhuish Park and in 1899, the cricket club secured a permanent ground at Hardenhuish Park.

There was bicycle club meet at Chippenham Market Place on 2nd July 1884 and a silver plated bugle was presented to the Bath club who had the largest number of cyclists. After riding through the streets, they proceeded to a field on the Sheldon Road where a track meet was held. The bicycle races were held over 1, 2 and 5 miles. In August 1888 the annual athletic sports were held on a grass cycle track, marked out at 6 laps to the mile. The bicycle events were; 1 and 3 miles open handicap, 2 miles local handicap and after the prize distribution "a donkey race and stone-picking race took place".

The 1889 Cricket Club athletic meeting took place "in the new cricket ground at Hardenhuish Park" with the usual bicycle races. Hardenhuish became the regular venue for the annual sports for over two decades with a track of 5 or 6 laps to the mile. Crowds of 5,000 regularly attended and the NCU (Bristol Centre) Championships were held. At the 1909 meeting it was noted that, after several nasty spills in recent years, the Committee had "been to considerable pains to do away with the sharp corners". Bicycle races featured prominently at the meeting.

The annual athletic sports continued until at least 1913. The NCU (Bristol Centre) 10 miles Championship was held at the 1913 meeting, which included a Chippenham tradesmen's lads' event'. The lad was on his trade bike showing his employer's name, the boy rode a lap, dismounted, delivered a parcel, remounted and rode another lap to finish. It was a popular event, requiring heats and a final.

There were also occasional bicycle races at Hardenhuish Park at the local flower show, but bicycle racing seems to have died out in the 1910's.

Hardenhuish Park is close to Chippenham. Hardenhuish House was built in 1829 and in 1938 it became part of Chippenham Grammar School, now called Hardenhuish School. The area around Sheldon Road is now housing. Chippenham Cricket Club still play at at Hardenhuish Park which is now a multi-sports facility.


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