Channel Islands - Jersey People's Park

St Aubins Road : GY2 4BB Channel Islands - Jersey People Channel Islands - Jersey People
The People's Park dates back to 1857 and it is in a natural amphitheatre where the Caesarean Cricket Club played their matches. In 1881, the cricket club and Jersey Bicycle and Tricycle Club prepared a grass track around the cricket pitch, which enabled bicycle racing to be held there. The track had some tricky corners and there was a hill on the course. Jersey BTC paid an annual rent to use the track. There was only one bicycle club in Jersey, the Jersey Bicycle and Tricycle Club who had 72 members in 1881 and the club organised all the bicycle racing on Jersey.

The first racing at the Park was on August Bank Holiday 1881, when a procession of over 30 bicyclists rode in procession from the rail terminus down the Esplanade to the Park. The main bicycle race at the meeting was the 10 miles Channel Islands Championship for the Challenge Cup and a gold medal, which was won by A Maunder from Guernsey BTC. There was also a 1 mile open scratch race, a 2 miles Jersey BTC novices race and the 5 miles Championship of Jersey BTC. The event was very successful with 6-8,000 spectators and made a profit of £7.

The August Bank Holiday meeting the following year was even more popular with over 15,000 spectators. This became a firmly established annual event. Mid-week handicap events were held, but had to be abandoned because of the poor state of the track.

The track was altered to make it more level around 1884, at which time the track was described as gravel. There was evening handicap racing in 1884. It was reported that the club had a group of five members who rode Faciles, which were described in the press as "little pony safety bicycles."

After three years organising the August Bank Holiday meeting with the Caesarean cricket club, the Jersey BTC took the initiative with the 1884 event and organised it themselves. A massive crowd of 12,000 to 15,000 filled the park and watched some fine racing until the 10 miles race. In this event there was some ‘crawling' to the disgust of the crowd and one rider called out that "Laurens was riding foul". Then Laurens and another rider crashed with Laurens re-mounted. Following this, a committee man Mr Hunt, deliberately and without warning, stepped onto the track and caught hold of Laurens' machine, knocking him to the ground. The officials action astounded the crowd and when Mr Hunt resumed his position "he was well hissed, and greeted with cries of "Coward", "Take him home to his rag-shop etc." The constable on duty told Hunt that he should consider himself under arrest and should leave. The large number of events resulted in the meeting running late and the advertised performance of the Cycling Burlesque was cancelled, at which parts of the crowd moved on to the track and soon hundreds of people were swarming around making racing impossible and the meeting was abandoned.

At the meeting the following year, police were present to keep control and the track was lined with hurdles rather than rope. The five miles club championship bicycle race was held on September 8th 1886 and F Syvret, one of the youngest active members of the club was the winner in 19m 20s. This was to be the last bicycle race at the People's Park, as the following year the club set up their own ground.

Channel Islands - Jersey People
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Photos : ChannelEye, theislandwiki.org, ssplprints.com