Newcastle upon Tyne - Wallsend Amateur Bicycle Club
Balmoral Street : NE28 8LB
Newcastle upon Tyne - Wallsend Amateur Bicycle Club : Map credit National Library of Scotland Newcastle upon Tyne - Wallsend Amateur Bicycle Club : Image credit Wiki Commons Wallsend Amateur Bicycle Club was formed in 1877. The club headquarters was at the Anchor Inn, owned by George Fogg, who was a patron of the club. The club quickly established itself and at the 1879 AGM reported that there were 43 members and a balance of over £18. The club built a new cinder track for the 1880 season on land rented from the Co-operative Society.

The opening event at the new track was held on May 17th 1880 and featured a club two miles scratch race for the club captaincy, which was won by Tom Blenkinsop from a field of five riders. In the five miles professional exhibition race, R Patterson of Newcastle narrowly beat R Bowman of Cramlington. The other races were one and two miles handicaps and a ten miles scratch race for club members. In the ten miles race, there were thirteen starters and, after a very exciting race, J Allan won to claim the silver cup presented by George Fogg. The band of the 8th Northumberland Rifle Volunteers played at the track and after the racing, club members enjoyed a cold lunch at the Anchor Inn. A month later, the club held another successful open race meeting.

At the first track meeting of 1881, the main event was a professional handicap race with fourteen top riders. Three riders were on scratch J Cleminson, R Roberts and Lamb, and T Waller was riding a machine on which his brother George won the championship race at Leicester. The club's star rider, Tom Blenkinsop, won the 1881 North of England five miles Championship at North Durham track.

Race meetings continued and the track was improved and widened for the 1884 season. On 12th July 1884, a very large crowd of around 5,000 watched as J Cleminson of Newcastle won the five miles professional handicap. The most exciting event of the meeting was a ten miles amateur local championship race in which the aggressive front riding of Bob English resulted in him winning the race by ten yards in 30m 14s.

There was another top class meeting on 20th September 1884, with a large crowd of 6,000 spectators. There were only two events, a one mile handicap race which had 62 entries and the 30 miles professional championship race. In the professional race the competitors included the fifty miles champion Fred Wood of Leicester, Tom Battensby, J Cleminson and W Parkes. Battensby was an early aggressor but slowed late in the race and on the final lap Wood and Parkes rushed to the front, with Wood taking the victory by a few yards, from Parkes in 1hr 37m.

At the club AGM in 1887, the club reported a disastrous financial position, after ground improvements and weather problems, it had only twelve shillings in hand. At this time, many of the club members were unemployed, so cost cutting measures were required. Things did start to improve, Wednesday evening meetings were commenced and the meeting on 22nd June was one of the most successful for several years, with the regular one mile handicap and thirty miles professional championship race.

At the mid-week sports on 13th May 1890, Lottie Stanley** the visiting American champion track cyclist appeared for a match race against the local rider MJ Flannigan over five miles for £10, with Stanley having a one mile start. The Jarrow express of May 16th 1890 reported that Stanley appeared "with her head bandaged, and looking very pale, from the effects of a fall on the previous evening." On the last lap, Flannigan was 50 yards behind and closing quickly on Stanley, but she responded and sprinted to victory by a length.

The usual open meetings and mid-week handicap league continued through the next few years, although attendance at events varied, but the club reported that most events were a financial success. The track was heavily used over the winter of 1892-3 for training purposes, but the two track meetings in 1893 were not well supported.

Tom Blenkinsop, the Wallsend ABC past champion and five miles North of England champion died in 1894 and was buried with one of the largest assemblage of people ever witnessed at Wallsend. A testimonial race meeting for Blenkinsop was held on 12th May 1894.

At a special meeting of the club in July 1894, it was decided to cancel all the bicycle race meetings for the rest of the year because of the gloomy financial outlook in local trade and the effect of strikes. There was one further sports meeting at the track, the Boilermakers and Iron Shipbuilders Society sports on 29th July 1894, which included a two miles scratch race, this was probably the last bicycle race to be held on the track.

In 1895 there were further problems at the club and at a special general meeting of the club in March, a motion was passed to dissolve the club and liquify its assets. A few days later, a further general meeting was called and the decision was rescinded. This seemed to be the death knoll for the club

In 1895, it was reported that Wallsend Park Villa football club had rented the ground.

** In September 1889 five of the star American women cyclists toured Britain for four months, the women were Louise Armaindo, Lottie Stanley, Jessie Woods, May Allen and Lillie Williams. Women racing on high bicycles was a novelty in England but fairly commonplace in America. The women returned to America in January 1890, except Lottie Stanley, who toured Britain by herself for six months from May 1890 and appeared in exhibition and handicap races against men.

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Photos : Wiki Commons
Maps    : National Library of Scotland