London - Tufnell Park

Page's Cricket Ground : N7 0EB London - Tufnell Park : Map credit National Library of Scotland
William J Page was a cricket bat manufacturer who also had a cricket ground. The original Page's cricket ground was probably in a field near Carleton Road adjacent to Holloway Prison (N7 0QH), this ground was usually referred to as Page's ground.

At some date, probably around 1870, Page's New Cricket Ground is mentioned, this ground was on Campdale Road and was referred to as Page's New Ground or simply Tufnell Park.

The Penny Illustrated Paper of 12th September 1891 carried a reminiscence that "Tufnell Park Cricket Ground, one of the haunts of my youth, but alas, it rested not where it is now. Under the shadow of the castle like structure known as the City Prison, it nestled in the midst of meadows..."

The Sportsman of January 12th 1869 reported that William J Page wanted to let a 14 acre cricket and sports ground. Page was the licensee of the newly built Tufnell Arms, 162 Tufnell Park Road (N7 0EE). The report continued "The Old Tufnell Park cricket ground will be open as usual and two small enclosed fields are to let, suitable for clubs requiring a private ground."

The first velocipede race at Tufnell Park was on 15th May 1869 and the Sportsman reported that the London Scottish Highland Games held a 2 miles race ‘open to gentlemen amateurs'. Four gentlemen rode in the race.

The Tufnell Park track was cinder, 932 yards in length and laid around the cricket pitch. It was fairly rectangular with sharp corners and no banking, which made it quite difficult to ride.

There was racing through the early 1870's and David Stanton, one of the best riders of the decade, was a regular there. Cricket, athletics, pedestrianism and rugby were also played; it was the home of Harlequins for a year.

1875 was a busy year for Tufnell Park, on Whit Monday, a Grand Bicycle Festival was held with handicap races and ‘tilting the ring'. The Penny Illustrated of May 29th carried a challenge for £100 a side that "no two men could ride 100 miles within 6 hours 15 minutes." The challenge was taken up by John Keen and David Stanton and odds of 2 to 1 were offered. Stanton rode a 58 inch ordinary and the men rode in relay, but stopped after 87 miles when they had to cover the remaining 13 miles in 45 minutes, ‘an almost impossible task'. On 18th September, 2 and 4 miles handicap races for under 16 year olds. The Tufnell Park Athletic Sports were held in October and included two and four miles bicycle handicap races. There were 300 paying spectators.

David Stanton promoted a meeting 14th August 1876 with a 20 miles professional handicap race, a 5 miles handicap and a 10 miles race between Stanton and Lady Moscow, the well-known trotting mare. Stanton won easily as the mare broke several times and lost ground at the turns. The 20 mile professional race included the French champion Thuillet, Bill Cann and S Stanton. For some extraordinary reason, Cann, who was allotted 400 yards start, elected to go from scratch but was beaten by 8 yards by Thuillet in 1 hr 14 min 46 sec.

After a successful start, bicycle racing at Tufnell Park seems to have faded out in the late 1870's. This could have been, as was reported later, that the track had deteriorated and came to be regarded as dangerous. The 1880's was also quieter at Tufnell Park, there were however meetings throughout the decade with Tufnell Park Athletic Club and the Stanley BC organising bicycle races. The Tufnell Park Athletics Club held their sports for several years from the late 1880's and included a 1 mile mixed bicycle race (penalties for pneumatics).

The Pall Mall Gazette of September 8th 1891 reported on a meeting at Tufnell Park. "The dampness of the grass, upon which it was intended to decide both the foot and wheel events, necessitated the use of the cinder path. Sixteen years ago the path was regularly used, for cycle racing. David Stanton, a professional rider then at his best, used to train at Tufnell Park. The higher speed rates of later years and the neglected surface of the unbanked path have caused riders to regard the ground as dangerous, even for practice purposes. On Saturday Scheltema Beduin declined to start and during the afternoon some seven or eight riders came to grief on one of the corners."

The last bicycle races at Tufnell Park were around 1892.

The Tufnell Park ground is now owned by Islington Council. It is presently known as Tufnell Park playing fields and has a full-size grass football pitch, cricket nets, tennis courts, a playground and a public open space.


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