Birkenhead - Tower Athletics Ground

Molyneux Drive New Brighton : CH45 1NU Birkenhead - Tower Athletics Ground : Image credit Wiki Commons Birkenhead - Tower Athletics Ground : Image credit Geoff Cooke private collection
The first bicycle racing event at New Brighton Tower Grounds was on June 7th 1897, which the Liverpool Mercury reported that, although they were not yet completed, the grounds were sufficiently advanced to run events. The first bicycle event was a one mile handicap race with 30 competitors, followed by the NCU local one mile championship and finally a 20 miles scratch race. It was reported that other track meetings would be held on the 12th, 29th and 22nd of June, when the NCU 50 miles championship would be run.

The new track seemed very popular, with many events in 1897 with crowds in the low thousands and large numbers of competitors. Bicycle racing at the Tower grew in popularity; there was a crowd of 10,000 spectators for the August Bank Holiday meeting.

At a sports meeting on August Bank Holiday in 1920, three men were arrested in connection with betting on bicycle races. The three were all found guilty of "loitering with the intention of betting" and were fined £5, despite their defence that they did not know that betting was not allowed.

The 1922 UCI Track Cycling World Championships qualification stages were held at the Tower, but because of bad weather, the finals were held in Paris. There were three events; men's professional sprint, men's professional motor paced and men's amateur sprint. The UK did well in the men's amateur sprint, Thomas Johnson won and William Ormston was third. This video shows the 1922 World Championships

Easter, Whit and August Bank Holiday meetings continued to be the principle events. In 1929 Jack Sibbit rode in the early April NCU meeting. In the 1930's racing seemed to reduce and racing seems to have stopped after WWII. The cycle track is still shown on old maps into the 1950's.

Suffering from neglect, the tower was dismantled in 1919 and sold for scrap. The Tower Ballroom continued in use until 1969, the Beatles performed there 27 times. The site is now a housing estate called River View Park.

Birkenhead - Tower Athletics Ground : Image credit The History of the Wirral Peninsula Birkenhead - Tower Athletics Ground : Image credit Stephen Burke Birkenhead - Tower Athletics Ground : Image credit Cycling magazine
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Photos : Wiki Commons, Geoff Cooke private collection, The History of the Wirral Peninsula, Stephen Burke, Cycling magazine