Isle of Wight - Newport Victoria Recreation Ground
Carisbrooke Road : PO30 5DS
Isle of Wight - Newport Victoria Recreation Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland Isle of Wight - Newport Victoria Recreation Ground : Image credit Island Echo The Newport Recreation Ground was created on nine acres of land which was donated to Newport Town Council by the local MP and land owner Tankerville Chamberlayne in 1897. The council raised money by subscription to provide a concrete cycle track costing £2,000, a cricket pitch and a pavilion, however shortage of money downgraded the cycle track to a grass track.

The first bicycle race at the Recreation Ground was on September 5th 1901 when the Isle of Wight Cycling Club held their club championship races and the IoW Athletic Club also held running races. A grass track of just over a quarter of a mile was marked out for the meeting. The IoW CC 2 miles handicap and 5 miles scratch club championship races were both won by E Stewart. There were 2,000 spectators and a collection for both clubs raised £4 18s 8½d.

Bicycle racing at the recreation ground took over from events that would have been held at Carisbrooke Castle. A Coronation Day sports meeting was held on June 26th 1903 to decide the club's 5 miles champion. After six riders crashed, WG Mobley eased through to win. As well the racing, there was trick cycling by the Lister Lizettes.

The IoW CC continued to run their club championship meetings at the recreation ground through the 1900's. The IoW CC and the Newport Football Club promoted the Easter Monday sports and gala and the Coronation Day sports in late June included several bicycle races. The promise of a cinder track at the ground never materialised, all the bicycle racing was on grass.

At the Easter Monday meeting in 1911, the chief attraction was the first appearance of Olympic double gold medal winner Clarence Kingsbury of Portsmouth RCC, who won the 3 miles scratch race in front of 4,000 spectators. Kingsbury returned the following Easter to again win the 3 miles scratch race. The St John's Athletic Club meeting on August 4th 1913 included one, two and three miles bicycle handicap races.

Bicycle racing at the ground halted due to the First World War, but resumed in 1923 when the Whit Monday sports were promoted by the Dreadnought Cycling Club, these included four cycling events and a motorcycle potato spearing race. The Dreadnought CC revived the old custom of entertaining rural roadmen to dinner and they also organised cycle races round the Canoe Lake in 1923.

The Dreadnought CC ran the Whit Monday meeting in 1933 after a gap of nearly a decade and their rider RS Cheverton scored a hat trick of wins in the three cycling events. This was probably the last bicycle racing to take place at the ground.

Newport Recreation Ground is still in use with a cricket pitch, tennis courts and ptanque facilities. The ground and the imposing pavilion are run by Newport Victoria Sports Club. After well over a century of playing at the recreation ground, Newport Cricket Club moved to Newclose in 2022.

Refs     : [p]
Photos : Island Echo
Maps    : National Library of Scotland