Hull - The Boulevard

Massey Close : HU3 3QT Hull - The Boulevard : Map credit Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps Hull - The Boulevard : Image credit Howard Peel
The Eastern Morning News of Dec 3rd 1889 carried an request for applicants for £6,000 share capital in The Hull Athletic Ground Company which was being formed to purchase or lease a plot of land on the Boulevard, Anlaby Road. The company intended to build a cinder track of 3½ laps to the mile, a grass track, grandstands and dressing rooms. The directors of the new company included a member of the Hull Grosvenor CC and an official of the NCU.

In due course, the track was constructed and the Boulevard was the only bicycle track in Hull as the older track at the Botanical Gardens had closed.

The Hull Athletic Club held the first meeting at the Boulevard on Whit Monday 26th May 1890. There were 4 bicycle races which included a race for ordinaries, one for safety bicycles and one ‘mixed'. The Boulevard gained immediate popularity as a bicycle race venue, attracted large numbers of competitors, top quality riders and large crowds.

At the meeting on June 27th 1890, John Stocks of the local club Hull Grosvenor CC was riding, and in the one mile handicap, riding off scratch, Stocks won the event. Stocks went on to become the first rider to exceed 25 miles in one hour (paced) and during his final hour recorded 32 miles 448 yards. He broke all records from 1 mile to one hour. Stocks was paced by the famous Dunlop pacing team.

The Hull Athletic Ground Company was immediately profitable and in 1891 they declared a dividend of 5%, which was fairly unusual for a privately owned track at this time.

The Boulevard quickly became popular; the meeting on June 7th 1892 attracted 15,000 spectators for the bicycle and athletics races. Evening meetings were introduced by the Hull Racing Cyclists Club their events included dancing and fireworks, but they were not a financial success.

The Company announced in the Hull Daily Mail on March 8th 1894 "Since the close of last season, the cycle track has been banked at the ends and laid with wood." The banking was 4ft 6in high and the wooden surface on the bankings extended to 120 yards on each curve. It is possible that the track was re-laid with gravel at this time.

John Stocks supported his local track and at a memorable meeting on June 19th 1894, Stocks took the five miles handicap event and his friend T Osborne, the mile champion of London, took the ½ mile race and then lowered the half mile track record by 5 seconds.

At a high profile meeting in August 1898, the champion rider Charley Barden and HB Howard, holders of the world tandem record were riding and they established a new track tandem record for five miles.

The Humberside Daily Mail of October 18th 1946 reported that in 1898, a Gladiator quint paced Dick Norton on the Boulevard track but they found that the wheelbase of the quint was too long to ride safely on the track. The Gladiator quint was ridden by local riders and it remained in Hull for two more years and was used for advertising. In the Hull Daily Mail report on the Easter 1898 track meeting, the banked cycle track surface was reported to be grass.

The Eastern Morning News of July 1st 1899 reported that the Boulevard ground had been sold to Hull Football Club. The Hull Athletic Ground Company was in liquidation in October 1899. By 1900 bicycle racing had all but disappeared from the Boulevard, although Hull Corporation held their sports there in 1908 which included bicycle races and Hull Thursday report a track meet there in 1909. An old map of 1910 shows the Boulevard as a football ground with a cycle track around it and by the 1920's the cycle track has gone.

Hull Football Club (established in 1865 as a rugby club), moved into the Boulevard in 1895 and stayed there until 2002. Hull City AFC played there between 1904 and 1905, speedway and greyhound racing also took place at the Boulevard.

The Boulevard stadium closed in 2010 and was demolished. The Boulevard Academy now stands on the site of the old track. The Academy opened in 2013 and is a mixed secondary school.


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Photos : Howard Peel
Maps    : Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps