London - Bow Grounds

Bow Road : E3 3AH London - Bow Grounds : Map credit National Library of Scotland
The Running Grounds at Bow were situated on Devon's Road, near the Prince of Wales and White Swan public houses. The Running Grounds were used for running races, pedestrian races and bicycle racing. The grounds seem to have been known variously as the Prince of Wales grounds, Bow Grounds and the Old Bow Grounds.

The 1876 Old map shows the Running Ground clearly, just off Devon's Road, it is slightly off rectangular with extremely tight corners. The track was 411 yards and railed in.

The pubwiki web site shows that George Richard Russell and family lived at the White Swan, 121 Devon's Road, Bromley E3, from 1869 to 1875. George Richard Russell then lived at the Widow's Son, 75 Devon's Road from 1875 until 1881.

George Russell seemed to like bicycle races and Bell's Life of July 3rd 1869 reported that "On July 24 the proprietor will give a handsome silver cup for a Bicycle Race (handicap); distance one mile. Entrance 5s. This ground is the best in London."

Further events followed in 1870, on April 16th, "A grand bicycle contest" between English and French champions. On May 14th, a one mile amateur race: height of wheel limited to 40 inches. Mile and a half amateur handicap; any height of wheel; India rubber tyres debarred and on May 18th one mile professional handicap.

On October 6th 1874 there was a match race for £20 between W Day, riding 20 miles on a bicycle and A Robinson (aka The Spider) walking 10 miles. The Spider won.

Bicycle racing reduced in the late 1870's, maybe the death of the original promoter George Russell, affected its popularity.

In an attempt to revive the popularity of the Old Bow Grounds, Tom Connor organised a grand opening day on the mornings of April 23rd to 30th 1899. The events included a 4 miles bicycle handicap, Tom Connor lived at the White Swan, Devon's Road, Bow. The grounds were used for running and pedestrian races and dog racing.

Tom Connor continued his "weekly reunion of sports" at Bow in 1900, with running races and a 2 miles bicycle handicap race with three heats. The June 24th meeting attracted 600-700 spectators. Tom Connor continued to organise sports at the ground but bicycle racing seemed to cease around 1902, although running and pedestrian races continued until 1910.

By 1916 the ground has disappeared from maps and replaced by housing and a small recreation ground on Violet Road. The recreation ground still exists as Brock Place Gardens.


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Maps    : National Library of Scotland