Middlesbrough - North Ormesby Velodrome

Thorrold Terrace : TS3 6DR Middlesbrough - North Ormesby Velodrome : Image credit Nigel Hall Middlesbrough - North Ormesby Velodrome : Image credit Nigel Hall
In 1936, an outdoor wooden track was built at Thorrold Terrace, North Ormesby on a piece of open ground called Middle Marsh. It was reported on September 4th 1936 [1] that "The Middlesbrough Plans and Town Planning Committee yesterday passed plans for the erection of a pedal cycling track at Thorrold Terrace North Ormesby. The plan shows a raised track with two stands, one to seat 950 and the other 650."

The track was built by a local cycling enthusiast Mr Brown, probably a member of Stockton Wheelers. The Daily News [2] reported "In Middlesbrough, a local enthusiast, Mr Brown, is proceeding with the erection of an eight-lap wooden track, on which he proposes to stage regularly weekly meetings. Inviting me to go up and see the track for myself, he says the work is now nearly finished, and he hopes to be able to run one or two meetings before the end of the present season."

There was a mid-week track meeting July 12th 1937 [3] and The Daily News [4] reported that the track was very popular with riders and two events had been put on in one week, with the main event being a 100 lap madison. Ray Hicks trained on the track and went on to compete in the sprint and time trial events at the 1936 Olympic Games.

The track was officially opened on August 12th 1937 and the Cleveland Standard [5] reported "An enthusiastic crowd of 3,500 attended the opening meeting of the new Middlesbrough Velodrome, North Ormesby." The report continued "The surface of the board track is extremely fast and as the lap is 220 yards only and the bankings 45 degrees it follows that the riding is, to say the least, spectacular." Professional riders Syd Cozens (England) and Eddie Smith (Australia) rode a series of exhibition matches and the top amateur race was a 100 lap madison event.

The 1938 season opened with a meeting on May 7th. In June 1938 George Fleming was reported to be planning an attempt on the world hour record but by July 28th, only one meeting had been held there. Permission was obtained from the local authority to hold motor paced events on the track. It was hoped that the board track would prove attractive to fast riders for record attempts and persuading southern riders to attempt the hour record. This did not happen and the track was not as popular as the owner had hoped and was losing money.

The craze of mud wrestling was sweeping the country in 1938 and the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail of June 4th 1938 [6] reported on a mud wrestling event at the velodrome. "Teesside was introduced to American mud wrestling last night, the first presentation of the new sport in Northern England. A ton of clay, 15 gallons of oil and two bags of soot were placed in the ring at the Velodrome, North Ormesby Middlesbrough. The wrestlers Dick the Doormouse, and Senor Emmanuel Garcia, threw mud at the referee with abandon."

The Tuesday evening cycle race meeting on August 23rd 1938 [7] was largely a local affair, with junior and senior sprint races, a madison, won by a Teeside pair and a one mile motor-paced attempt by Middlesbrough rider N Levitt.

On May 18th 1939, the bailiff put the velodrome up for sale by auction because of non-payment of rent. The auctioneer, Thomas E Cumming's description of the sale [8] was "Approx 220 yds timber cycle track formed of 2 in x 1 in close fitted timbers on 5½ in x 2 in timber supports." Also included in the auction was a 92ft and 79ft timber stands, dressing room, judges stand, ticket office, pay boxes, refreshment hut, fencing, wc's and 26 arc lamps. The track was initially offered as a single lot with a lease on the ground and if unsold, to be split into lots.

The North-Eastern Gazette [9] reported on the auction "The North Ormesby velodrome, an open-air cycling track, built at a cost of about £2,500 three years ago, by Mr W Brown of Coatham Road, Redcar, was auctioned by Mr Thomas E Cumming at Middlesbrough yesterday. The premises were used for a time, for all-in wrestling contests, but bad weather mitigated against continued success. After an unsuccessful attempt had been made to sell the velodrome as it stood Mr Cumming sold the premises in 70 lots for a total price of about £160. The track went to Mr W Hewitson for £11, two stands were sold for a total of £30 and the wooden boarding enclosing the site fetched £40 10s."

After the auction, the following small advertisement appeared in the North-Eastern Gazette [10] "For sale, cheap, Velodrome Cycle Track, North Ormesby." The site of the velodrome is now the Middle Marsh Nature Area, at the side of the A66

Newspaper refrences:

[1] Hartlepool Northern Daily, September 4th 1936

[2] The Daily News (London), September 15th 1936

[3] The Morpeth Herald and Reporter, July 16th 1937

[4] Daily News (London), August 10th 1937

[5] Cleveland Standard July 17th 1937, p4.

[6] Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail, June 4th 1938

[7] Northern Daily Mail August 24th 1938

[8] Newcastle Evening Chronicle, May 17th 1939

[9] North-Eastern Gazette, May 19th 1939

[10] North-Eastern Gazette, May 22nd 1939


Refs     : [p]
Photos : Nigel Hall