London - Plumstead - Manor Ground

Griffin Manor Way : SE28 0FA London - Plumstead - Manor Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland London - Plumstead - Manor Ground : Image credit Wiki Commons
Arsenal FC (or Royal Arsenal as they were known at this time) formed a company called Woolwich Arsenal Football & Athletics Company Ltd. to raise money to buy the Manor Ground, which they moved to in 1893. Interestingly the word ‘Royal' could not be used in a company name, so the club changed its name to Woolwich Arsenal.

The Arsenal FC held a sports meeting on a grass track at the Manor Ground on 5th August 1895, which was reported in the Kentish Mercury that week. A crowd of between 3,000 and 4,000 people watched the bicycle racing, the principal attraction being the competition between French and English women in ½ and 1 mile races. Rosa Blackburn, the famous 6 day rider, won the ½ mile race from Nellie Hutton and Maud Hutton aged 7, Nellie's sister, was third. There were also one mile and two miles men's open handicap races; the popular winner of the one mile was W Williams who played for Arsenal reserves. There was also a two lap novelty event against a runner and JH Herbert the ‘world champion backward cyclist', the backward riding cyclist was the winner.

The newly formed cycling section of the Woolwich Polytechnic included a bicycle race in the club athletics meeting on Wednesday evening 12th August 1896.

The Royal Arsenal held their annual sports for employees from 1897 and the 1902 event at the Manor Ground included ½ mile, 1 mile and 2 miles handicap bicycle races.

In 1910 Arsenal faced bankruptcy but were rescued by property magnate Sir Henry Norris who, after unsuccessfully trying to merge Fulham and Arsenal, moved the club across London to a new stadium in Highbury. After Arsenal left the Manor Ground in 1913, the site became derelict before being redeveloped. The ground was on land now bounded by Nathan Way, Griffin Manor Way and Hadden Road and is the site for the new Belmarsh West Prison.

London - Plumstead - Manor Ground : Image credit Brian Townsley
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Photos : Wiki Commons, Brian Townsley
Maps    : National Library of Scotland