Newcastle upon Tyne - Byker - Wallers Grounds

Dalton Street : NE6 1RW Newcastle upon Tyne - Byker - Wallers Grounds : Image credit Heaton History Group Newcastle upon Tyne - Byker - Wallers Grounds : Image credit Heaton History Group
George Waller was born in Newcastle in 1855 and was the most famous professional bicyclist in the country. He was a six day rider and world champion. Towards the end of Waller's cycling career, he set up a track near his home in Byker and organised track racing there.

The Newcastle Daily Journal of June 8th 1881 reported GW Waller, Champion Bicyclist, begs to inform his friends and the public in general, that he has taken a large field at Dalton Street, Byker, with a lake in the centre for a Recreation and Bicycle Ground, which is now in splendid condition, and open for practice. The egg shaped cinder track was 5½ laps to the mile and the ground had a small grandstand.

There were many race meetings at the ground in 1882, starting at Easter, for amateurs and professionals. Waller put up ‘The Waller Cup' for a series of one mile amateur handicap races. D Oliver won the trophy outright with three victories. Waller then put up ‘The New Waller Cup' which was won by RH English.

On 10th June 1882 there was a match between Waller and John Keen for £50 over ten miles. Waller received 30 seconds start. A very large crowd of between 7,000 and 8,000 watched the race, which Keen won by a foot in 37 min 6 sec. The two met again in July, this time Waller won, after Keen fell off after six miles and was badly shaken.

In September 1882, Waller installed electric lighting at the ground and planned to hold a 26 hour professional race. Unfortunately the electric lights failed and the event had to be abandoned.

The following year saw fewer meetings on the track, although running races were also promoted. In 1883 Waller promoted a series of daily 8 hour contests on an indoor track 12 laps to the mile at the new Drill Hall, Bath Road, Newcastle.

The grounds were not a commercial success and closed in 1884. Housing was built on the grounds which have more recently been redeveloped. After his cycling career was over, Waller started a building company with his brother Henry. Waller died in 1900 when a pony, pulling his trap, shied and he was thrown heavily on his head.


Refs     : [76] [116] [125] [147] [p]
Photos : Heaton History Group