Coventry - Butts Stadium

Albany Road : CV1 3GE Coventry - Butts Stadium : Map credit Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps Coventry - Butts Stadium : Image credit innovarisports
The Butts was formerly known as The Old Bull Fields before it was enclosed in 1880. It was laid out as a recreation ground and in 1900 it covered 12 acres and comprised cricket and football pitches and a cycle track. Track racing was held at the Butts from 1879

Cricket was played here, it was home to Coventry Cricket Club until 1919. Coventry RFC played here until the 1910's. There was also a golf course.

Coventry was the centre of bicycle manufacture in the 1880's and the Butts was only 200m from the Rudge Cycle Works.

The first cinder track 440 yards long was laid in 1879. The track was dead level with sharp corners that were slightly banked. A local newspaper reported - on April 12th 1884 "The first meeting of the year took place on a day which was ‘bitterly cold and heavy showers of rain occasionally fell' Consequently the attendance was not so large." One of the cycle race handicappers was H.Sturmey.

In 1936, a concrete track was built, the surface of the new track was not initially well received,

The track was resurfaced in 1954 with synthetic asphalt. It was still 440 yards long and 21 feet wide at the bends with 14° banking

The Butts was a local track for Tommy Godwin who won the 1,000m event there on 29 July 1939. At the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, Godwin won two bronze medals, in the team pursuit, with Robert Geldard, Dave Ricketts and Wilfrid Waters, and in the 1,000m time trial.

The annual Easter Monday track meet at the Butts, run by Charlie Viner, used to be a classic cycling event in the Midlands up to the 1960's. Professional World Sprint Champions Reg Harris, Sid Patterson and Arie van Vleet rode there. The Butts benefitted from the stars who rode the Good Friday meet at Herne Hill on the same weekend. On Tuesday nights the Coventry Track League was held at the Butts Stadium.

The National track stadium at Leicester opened in 1969 as a concrete track and was re-laid as a timber track in 1978. This proved to be very stiff competition to the Butts.

The Sandwell Evening Mail of April 16th 1987 reported "National track racing returns to the Butts stadium in Coventry on Easter Monday for the first time in almost twenty years. The Easter holiday weekend sees the serious start to the National Track cycle racing calendar with meetings at Herne Hill (Good Friday), Portsmouth (Saturday) and Butts Lane. The stadium began hosting the traditional Easter Monday meeting in 1970. Coventry Cycling Club have promoted the meeting for the past 30 years but in recent years at Leicester's National track in Saffron Lane. The plan in returning to Coventry is part of a joint effort with the City Council's Leisure Department to rejuvenate local interest and increase the use of the city's own cycling facility."

In spite of this initiative, cycle racing at the Butts continued to decline and the track eventually closed around 2000 to make way for Butts Park Arena, a rugby stadium, the home ground for Coventry RFC and Coventry Bears.

Coventry - Butts Stadium : Image credit John Crump Coventry - Butts Stadium : Image credit Coventry Live
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Photos : innovarisports, John Crump, Coventry Live
Maps    : Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps