Northumberland - Bebside
Front Street : NE24 4HT
Northumberland - Bebside : Map credit National Library of Scotland The Bebside Inn was built in the 1860s and Joshua Rutter became the proprietor in 1869. Rutter was a sports lover and he worked with the newly formed Bebside Colliery Bicycle Club and set up a cinder bicycle track, track about 7½ laps to the mile, which opened in 1881. As well as bicycle races, Rutter also promoted other sports at the ground, including running, pedestrian races, quoit matches and bird shooting.

The first bicycle race at Bebside was on 9th July 1881, sponsored by the Bebside Mechanics Institute "on the bicycle track attached to the house of Mr. Joshua Rutter of the Bebside Inn." There was only one bicycle event, a two miles handicap race, which had 23 starters, for which eight heats were needed, with semi-finals and final. The winner was John Wilson, who received a gold watch. There was also a quoits competition at the meeting.

Three local bicycle clubs Bebside Colliery, Cramlington Village and Sleekburn Colliery organised a race meeting with one mile amateur and professional races, the heats were held on September 3rd 1881. The professional handicap race attracted 17 competitors and the amateur race had 7 riders. The weather was miserable and the gate was consequently quite poor. The finals were run off on September 17th with R Humble of Bedlington winning £6 for the professional race and amateur William Henderson of Cramlington winning a cruet stand.

The final meeting of the year, organised by Joshua Rutter, was held on 15th October 1881, the events were a two miles handicap for amateurs and a four miles handicap for professionals.

After the first year, bicycle races at the ground seemed to consist mainly of match races. On May 20th 1882 about 1,200 people paid to see a five miles match race between Ralph Humble of Bedlington and Thomas Dixon of Choppington Station for £10 a-side, which Humble won in a time of 19½ minutes. Other match races were between Thomas Stevenson of Shankhouse and George Dixon Choppington, over five miles for £15 on July 22nd 1882. George Jefferson and Anthony Nixon held a match race on October 14th 1882, they were a couple of novices from Cambois and they raced for £10 over five miles. Betting seems to have taken place quite freely at Bebside and odds were often quoted in newspaper reports of the racing.

Joshua Rutter promoted other races at the ground in 1882, on May 29th there was an open two miles handicap race and on August 12th, a three miles handicap heats. Heats were held and the finals a week later. Admission to these events cost three pence.

The following year the track was repaired and re-laid. A race meeting was held on Saturday 26th May 1883, the event was reported by The Sporting Life on May 29th "these grounds, which are situated within one minute's walk from Bebside Station, were fairly attended to witness the sports provided by Mr Rutter, of the Bebside Inn. The track has lately undergone repairs, and had been relaid, and was in excellent trim". The 3 miles handicap was run in six heats. The following Saturday saw a continuation of the meeting, which also included a 5 miles match race for £20, between William Tyre of Byker, Newcastle and Thomas Stevenson of Shankhouse, the former winning by a couple of yards.

There was a further match race on 27th October 1883 between John Parker and Robert Hawkes, both of Cramlington, over one mile for £10. At this time, the Bebside Colliery BC changed its name to Bebside BC, but the club seemed to disappear after a few years.

After 1883, bicycle events at the ground pretty well stopped, the last being a match race on 18th September 1886, between John Leslie of Holywell and Robert Hall of Seaton Delaval over five miles for £20. The demise of the Bebside track coincided with the opening of the Cramlington track in 1882, which was only a few miles away. There were some other sporting events at the Bebside ground, but these had stopped before Joshua Rutter retired in 1901.

The Bebside Inn still exists on Front Street, Bebside and there is a car park on the site of the old bicycle track.

Refs     : [p]
Maps    : National Library of Scotland