Leicester - Abbey Park
Abbey Park Road : LE4 5AQ
Leicester - Abbey Park : Image credit David Sheppard - Facebook Cycling nostalgia In 1879 the Leicester Corporation bought Abbey Meadows in 1879 and created Abbey Park which was opened by Prince Edward VII on Whit Monday, 1882. The park had a grass track, which was known as the Oval, bicycle and bicycle races were held there after WWII.

Leicester City Council gave permission for cyclists to train on the grass track at Abbey Park in 1943. A track league was started and some top-class race meetings started to be held.

The City of Leicester Show and Festival week was held at the Oval in early August each year and bicycle racing was included towards the end of the 1940's. The NCU 5 miles National track championship was held at the Oval at the Show on August 6th 1947. The holder, Tommy Godwin was beaten for the title by Gerry Waters and Lou Pond won the sprint race. Cycling featured in the 1949 show with a new Grand Prix of Leicester track race. Sports were however dropped from the Show soon after this and, in spite of representations, sports were not included in the Show again.

Leicester and Rutland NCU Wednesday evening track league ran up to 1950, paying the council 16/6d per session for the track use. The track league was well supported by riders and the public, there were 22 entries in the 5 mile scratch race on May 17th 1950 and there was a crowd of 4,000 spectators at the May 31st 1950 track league.

Leicester Parks Committee banned cycle racing at the Oval in 1951 and gave no particular reason for this. Leicester cyclists were offered the use of Braunstone Aerodrome for 10 shillings per session, but this was rejected and cyclists protested against the ban and presented a 20,000 signature petition to the council. It seems that this petition was unsuccessful as there was no more bicycle racing at Abbey Park after 1951.

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Photos : David Sheppard - Facebook Cycling nostalgia