Channel Islands - Guernsey Castle Emplement Track
Castle Pier : GY1 1AU
Bicycle racing on Guernsey was organised by the Guernsey Bicycle and Tricycle Club* which was active by 1879 and held a club championship race in August 1880. The club had no track in the early 1880's so they start racing on some closed roads in St Peter Port. There was a 15 miles club championship race at the Albert Pier, presumably out and back on the pier road, which was held on July 27th 1881 and had five starters

The next location to be used for racing was the South Esplanade near the Albert statue. The first bicycle race there was in September 1881 and there was a five miles race of 13 laps on July 7th 1882 for the club championship.

Racing on the Esplanade continued, with a meeting on September 6th 1882. As the races were run on a normal road, presumably closed, there were problems at the bicycle races with spectators spilling on to the course and with stray dogs. At a race meeting on Easter Monday 1883 the crowds were so large and blocking the course that two of the matches, the club championship and the 10 miles race could not be run. In the 5 miles race, a large dog brought down one of the competitors and the club championship race was started, but on the first lap, a fight broke out across the track and racing was abandoned.

The Guernsey BTC races moved in 1884, to a road/footpath course at White Rock Landing/St Julian's pier, with a race on September 1st 1884.

Eventually the Guernsey BTC found a home in 1885 at Castle Emplacement, Castle pier and on May 30th 1885 the club received permission to place a bicycle track at the Emplacement on ground that had not previously been used. In June 1885, a track 365 yards around and 18 feet wide, was laid down by the club. The track had a rubble foundation and a gravel surface. The new track opened on August 27th 1885 with the Guernsey BTC annual sports, before which a procession of cyclists rode from the Albert statue, around the town and to the track. The meeting was opened by the Governor of the Island and the track was well marked with flags and ropes. There were sixteen events, including a five miles club championship race. The Artillery Militia band played and the sports were followed by a public dinner in St Julian's Hall.

The Guernsey BTC annual sports were on Castle Emplacement from 1885-1887 after which the event moved to a new cinder track that the club had constructed at the Elizabeth College Cricket Field. The site of the Castle Emplacement track is now the model yacht pond.

* Guernsey Bicycle and Tricycle Club (Guernsey BTC) was sometimes referred to in the press as Guernsey Bicycle Club. In October 1891 the club changed their name to the Guernsey Cycling Club (GCC).

Refs     : [p]