Hull - Botanic Gardens

Sunny Bank : HU3 1LE Hull - Botanic Gardens : Map credit National Library of Scotland Hull - Botanic Gardens : Image credit Image copyright (c) Hull Museums: Streetlife Museum
Hull Botanic Gardens moved to a site in Spring Bank in 1877. The track there opened in June 1881 and in its first year it was well used for cycling and athletics events. The Sporting Life of July 12th 1881 reported on the Hull Athletic Club sports that were held on "the new cinder track in the Hull Botanic Gardens. The track is six laps thirty-two yards to the mile, and was in very good condition. About four thousand persons assembled". The event included one bicycle race, over 2 miles, first prize, tea and coffee service, 2nd prize fish carvers. The Field commented on the track "The new path is egg-shaped, six laps to the mile with 150 yards straight, but, through it only having been laid a few months, it has not had time to get settled and in good condition. Plenty of water and rolling will doubtless greatly improve it , but a nasty sharp turn at the top end will altogether prevent fast times, and may prove dangerous in bicycle races."

In August 1882 representatives from five bicycle clubs in Hull met to consider holding a competition. The five clubs, who each gave £5 towards a guarantee for the event, were: Hull Bicycle Club; Hull Amateur Bicycle Club; Hull Tricycle Club; Hull Wanderers' Bicycle Club and Hull Wilberforce Bicycle Club. The first meeting took place on 2nd September 1882 with the cyclists taking part in a parade through the town before meeting at Hull Botanic Gardens for a photograph prior to the event on the cinder track. There were heats and finals in three races which were the 10 mile race, a Tricycle Handicap over 1 mile and a Mounting and Dismounting Race where riders had to dismount twice each lap. Attendances in 1882 were "of several thousands".

The Hull CC held their annual track meet in July 1883, the events were 1 mile tricycle handicap (the winner rode a Coventry Rotary), 1 mile bicycle scratch and a 1 mile mounting and dismounting handicap. For the 10 miles scratch race for the Hill Championship and a 20 Guineas silver cup, there were only seven starters. The event was won by W Hickling in 39 min 13 sec and, as he had won the cup the previous year, it became his absolute property.

A crowd of 20,000 people watched the sports on 4th August 1884. The bicycle and tricycle races were well supported and other events were running, gymnastics, tug of war, walking and a football dribbling competition. The day finished with a "Venetian fete" and a "magnificent pyrotechnic display". There were other meets in 1885 with attendances of over 7,000.

Racing at the Botanic Gardens continued to be well supported from 1886 and an event in 1887 drew a crowd of 10,000 spectators. There were events through to 1889 but activity seems to have reduced.

The Botanic Gardens closed in 1889 due to financial difficulties and in 1893, the co-educational independent day school, Hymers College was built on the site.


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