Liverpool - Kirkby

Valley Road : L32 5TG Liverpool - Kirkby : Map credit Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps Liverpool - Kirkby : Image credit greenjersey.wordpress.com
The Kirkby track open in July 1964 with the Kirkby club championships and the track was to become a key venue for riders throughout the North-West. The 485m asphalt track was banked to 25 degrees.

The track opened officially with a race meeting on August Bank Holiday Monday 1964 with a top class cycle race meeting which included the National Junior sprint championships, National ‘Ladies' sprint championship and the Grand Prix of Kirkby sprint race. The riders included Karl Barton, Beryl Burton, Les West, Chris Church, Trevor Bull, Graham Webb and Randy Allsopp.

The Kirkby CC was based at the track and the club had a host of talented riders including Doug Dailey, Dave Lloyd, John Clewarth, Kevin Apter, Dave Vose, Pete Matthews and Phil Thomas with Eddie Soens who was the club trainer. Kirkby CC (previously Melling Wh.) was founded by Ken Matthews who lived and breathed the Kirkby track.

In 1965 an international track meeting was held featuring riders from GB and Holland, with national pursuit champion Hugh Porter riding, the top tandem pair Eric Thompson and Geoff Cook and locals Billie Whiteside and Joe Hanley.

The great hopes for the track seemed not to materialise, as the Liverpool Echo reported in 1970 that Willi Moore, a Commonwealth Games track rider, had moved to Manchester. Willi said "It was a pity because I think the Kirkby track is better than Fallowfield, but there is a great deal more interest in Manchester in track cycling".

In spite of this, there was activity at the track, the Wednesday evening meetings continued where Willi Moore beat Dave Lloyd in the 4,000m pursuit championship. The Wednesday night meetings were well supported and staged the BCF (Merseyside) track championships. Doug Dailey was the manager of the Sports Centre.

In 1984 the track had a facelift with a replacement asphalt surface costing £88,600 and a new safety fence, paid for by Knowsley Council and a 75% grant from the Government Urban Renewal programme. A BMX track was also built at the stadium. The refurbished track was opened by Reg Harris, then aged 64, followed by a national quality track meet featuring Phil Thomas, Terry Tinsley, Joey McLoughlin and Deno Davie. A special local veterans tandem challenge match was run between Keith Boardman (Chris' dad) and Paddy Ward - combined age 99, against Steve Goff and Dave Woods.

Chris Boardman's first test of the ground-breaking Lotus Type 108 Olympic pursuit bike, on which he rode to victory in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, was at the track.

In the 1990's, interest in track racing at Kirkby had waned as the only one open track meeting was held in 1994. In 1999 the track was in danger of being declared unfit for use by the BCF and £300,000 was needed for a resurfacing. There does not seem to have been much activity at the track after the year 2000.

The track was in need of major refurbishment and the venue closed on August 29th 2007 after 43 years, the last meeting was the renowned Wednesday night Track League. The Liverpool Echo reported on its closure "In its heyday, the league was acknowledged as one of the most successful in the country, producing champion racers such as Chris Boardman. The centre, which also caters for boxing, football, running and badminton, will close for good and be demolished. Chairman of Kirkby Cycling Club Ken Matthews said: The Kirkby track has resulted in producing many champions". Ken Matthews died in 2008 and the Kirkby CC folded at this time.

Liverpool - Kirkby : Image credit Martin Owens Liverpool - Kirkby : Image credit Will Soens
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Photos : greenjersey.wordpress.com, Martin Owens, Will Soens
Maps    : Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps