North Shields - North Shields Cycling Grounds

Hawkey's Lane : NE29 0PR North Shields - North Shields Cycling Grounds : Map credit historic maps
North Shields Bicycle Club was formed at a public meeting in Grieves & Robson's Cocoa Rooms on May 9th 1879. The club held their race meetings in Preston Road cricket field from 1880 and drew crowds of around 4,000.

The club had recruited two ambitious members John Robert Hogg and James Walton, who seemed particularly interested in creating a purpose made cycle track and in December 1884, they secured the old Preston Colliery pit heap at Hawkey's Lane and began work laying out the ground as a cycle track.

The Shields Daily News of April 18th 1885 reported on the progress of the new ground. The track was being built over a pit heap and was half completed and the opening day was fixed. The whole of the track was laid in May, rolled and finished by the end of the month. The NCU measured and certified the track on 19th June 1885.

The opening meeting days were June 30th, July 1st & 2nd and the first evening attracted a crowd of 6,000 spectators to watch many northern ‘crack' riders including local man RH (Bob) English, who went on to become a world class rider.

The ground was improved over the winter of 1885; a new black ash running track was built inside the cycle track, a playing field within the running track was added and the spectator area around the track was banked and turfed. The bicycle track was 5 laps to the mile

August Bank Holiday race meetings started 1885 and Easter Monday and Tuesday meets the following year. Training was available on the track every evening and an annual pass cost five shillings.

The ground was used extensively for band concerts in 1886, which attracted crowds of three or four thousand people.

The North Shields Bicycle Club held their two day sports on 1st and 2nd July 1886 with a full program of bicycle races. The 2 miles amateur handicap needed five heats and the 10 miles professional scratch race was won by Fred Wood of Leicester in 29 min 45 sec. Fred Wood was the world Ordinary (penny farthing) champion in 1887 and raced in the United States and Australia.

The Cycling Grounds continued to hold top class meetings and attracting champion riders including Herbert Synyer, Pat Kilkelly, John Adams and the French champion Paul Medinger. Local man Bob English attempted to ride 20 miles in one hour (paced) on 11th July 1887, in which he succeeded, finishing with 20½ miles. He rode a specially made 58 inch Humber machine and was watched by 1,000 people.

The August Bank Holiday meeting in 1892 included the NCU (Newcastle) one mile championship, which received a large entry. The numerous races each year on the track took a sudden reversal in 1893, when only one event, the August Bank Holiday sports was held. The event was very successful and 4,000 people paid for entry.

The Shields Gazette of March 9th 1894 carried a report of the North Shields BC 15th Annual Meeting. The club treasurer reported "The last three sports held under the auspices of the club were failures. Last year they lost £10, and the previous year there was a deficit of £7. Therefore, so far as cycle racing was concerned, it was dead in that borough."

Although open events at the track were not promoted by the club after the AGM, they held a club event on the track on August 29th 1894. This seems to have been the last bicycle race meeting on the track.

Taken over by N Shields Athletic FC in 1900 and eventually by North Shields FC, the ground was known as Appleby Park. The ground was sold in 1992 and the site was developed for housing, now known as Appleby Park.

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