Harlow - Harlow Track

Edinburgh Way : CM20 2QE Harlow - Harlow Track : Map credit Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps Harlow - Harlow Track : Image credit John Coulson
The Harlow Cycling Club describes the background to the building of the 197m, 45 degree outdoor wooden track in 1976. "Fund raising, planning, more fund raising, hopes and dreams began to combine and in the long hot summer of 1976 the new track was nearing completion. The track was only made possible by the refusal to quit demonstrated by Ron and Kath White and the help, support and the thousands of hours of sheer hard work of many countless friends and cyclists who turned a dream into a reality." The track cost £65,000 and was built by Vic Watkins."

On Saturday 11th September 1976 the Grand Opening Meeting was held. The first competitive ride was by Neil Dykes the National Junior Sprint Champion who recorded 12.5 seconds for a flying 200 metres time trial. The first crash happened on that day as well with Halesowen's Trevor Gadd coming off the worse in a tussle with West Germany's Hans Michalsky in the Open Sprint. The Acton Gazette of 16th September 1976 reported on the opening meeting of the "wooden bowl" commenting that international track star Steve Hefferman teamed up with Paul Medhurst to win the 4,000m madison pursuit event, Hefferman also won the 20k scratch event.

The Harlow CC club records continue "In 1978 a Mini Six meeting was put on with Tony Gowland, Britain's premier Six Day Rider. Harlow saw the first televised meeting on Saturday 2nd June 1979 with the Debenhams Olympic International Track Meeting. Featuring Great Britain and Switzerland live on BBC Grandstand, the Swiss Team Manager the legendary Oscar Plattner asked if he could take the track back to Switzerland with him. Featured in that meeting were three future World and Olympic Champions and the memory of Steve Heffernans win in the 20kms scratch at the end of the meeting will remain with those who saw it forever. What was remarkable was the race time an incredible 22 minutes 58 seconds for the 102 laps!"

"The early meetings at the Harlow Track were organised by Dave Handley, but from 1980 onwards the promotions moved "in House" with Bill Tarran taking over the mantle of promoter. That year saw the first Olympic Day Track Meeting, The Rank Xerox Bastille Day, the Gilbert Lovell Memorial Meeting and the Mini Six. This set the pattern for the next 10 years with at least four open meetings being organised by the club each year. The meetings featured in the revitalised BCF National Sprinters and Points Race Leagues from 1984 until 1989."

"But these were not the only promotions on the track. Besides the weekly Track League held on 16 weeks every year and sponsored initially by CRG Garages and then BP International, the track was used to promote the 1989 English Schools Cycling Association Championships in which Nick Hewes won the Sprint and Pursuit championships and Matthew Wall won a silver and a bronze. The track was "Home" for 13 years as the track base for the ever popular Youth Week where many future champions took their first steps in track racing."

"Harlow CC members dominated events both at the Harlow Track and throughout the country with medals being won in many open events. Dave March, Dave LeGrys and John Arkwright were regularly in the top positions throughout the country with the highlight being Dave LeGrys's bronze medal in the 1980, Dave Marsh and John Arkwright's silver medal in the Tandem Sprint in 1981 and Jackie Harris's bronze in 1981 and silver in 1983 in the Womens Sprint. In 1981, and despite having no established stars in the team, the Club won the Eastern Counties Track Championships with the team consisting of Mark Minting, Mick Westwood, Bill Tarran, Gary Edwards and Jacquie Driscoll. The New Clubroom opened in 1982 at a cost of £82,000."

On 3rd November 1993 the site at Edinburgh Way was sold to Longmans Group for £3,000,000. An office building was constructed on the site. Recently the office building was converted to 250 apartments.

Harlow - Harlow Track : Image credit Brian Townsley
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Photos : John Coulson, Brian Townsley
Maps    : Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps