Forfar - Strathmore Recreation Grounds

Manor Street : DD8 1AZ Forfar - Strathmore Recreation Grounds : Map credit National Library of Scotland
The new recreation ground at Manor Street, Forfar was laid out in 1886 by Mr William Coutts, a butcher, of Castle Street. The grounds were financed by Mr Coutts using his own money and he entrusted the running of them to an elected committee. The Forfar Herald of May 28th 1886 carried an advertisement about the opening of the new cinder track at Strathmore Recreation Grounds, with the opening meeting on the 5th June.

At the opening meeting, the bicycle races were; 1 mile open, 2 miles for local riders, 5 miles open and a 1 mile race for local boys under 17 years old. On the day, there were sixty competitors and 2,300 people attended the event. The main 5 miles race was won by Alex Will of Dundee CC off scratch in 20min 30sec.

Further race meetings were held in 1886, the Angus and Burnside Cycling Clubs organised a race meeting on September 4th at which the local champion George Douglas won all the major races. At a meeting on October 10th, Douglas refused to ride in the 2 miles handicap race because he disagreed with the handicapping. This did not go down well and he was roundly criticised in the press.

It was noted that the track was on an incline, the high point being at the west end of the course.

Strathmore Recreation Grounds Society (Limited) took over the lease and management of the cinder track in 1887 and advertised ‘Unprecedented Attractions' on 5th August with "Bicycling, horse leaping, trotting, steeplechase, foot running, leaping and dancing etc. etc."

There was a professional race on September 8th 1887 between Jim Young, the Champion of Scotland and George Douglas, the Forfar champion. The race was over 20 miles and Douglas won by three yards. A newspaper report comments that "The general opinion amongst the spectators was that the race was a ‘frost' and that the result was pre-arranged." The Forfar Herald of October 14th 1887 commented "Unless those who have the track can guarantee that their races are bona-fide, the success of the track is doomed."

The Angus Cycling Club organised a sports meeting on June 23rd 1888 with bicycle events including a 1 mile amateur handicap, 2 miles safety and roadster (weight over 40 lbs) bicycles and a 2 miles professional handicap race.

The Dundee Courier and Argus on February 22nd 1889 reported that the Strathmore Recreation Grounds Society (Limited), who leased the cinder track, could not meet their debts.

On July 22nd 1889, athletic sports were held at Strathmore. The bicycle races were; 3 miles handicap, 1 mile Farm Servants' race and a 2 miles roadster race. This was probably the last bicycle race at Strathmore.

Strathmore Park is currently a football ground and the home of junior football club Forfar West End FC.


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