Norwich - Chapel Field

Chapelfield Road : NR2 1TN Norwich - Chapel Field : Image credit From the authors own collection
Chapel Field was next to the Drill Hall on Chapel Field North, which was owned by the Corporation. The Norfolk Chronicle in 1877 described the track there as "a very level but rather rough course, two and a half laps constituting a mile."

The Norfolk and Norwich Bicycle Club was formed in 1876. The Club Captaincy was decided by the twenty members having a race on the road from Wymondham to Norwich. On October 18th 1877, the club organised a race on a track, using Chapel Field. There was a very good attendance, so much so that "the few police on the ground had anything but an easy task in ‘clearing the course' for each event." The bicycle races were; 1 mile club handicap, 2 miles open handicap and a 5 miles open scratch race.

The racing was followed by a ‘plank contest' in which competitors had to ride their machines along a plank which was 10" wide and 100 feet long. Only one rider, Drane, managed this feat. In the slow bicycle race, Drane managed to do a track stand and waited for all the others to fall off, so won easily. The Norfolk Chronicle reported that the final event "was the one mile race on ‘bone shakers' viz. the old fashioned wooden velocipedes and caused much amusement. The first prize, a box of cigars, was won by Goreham; 2nd pair of prize fowls, by Bolt; 3rd two pair of pigeon, by Hibbert."

The Norfolk and Norwich BC continued to hold races on the road, but repeated their popular track meeting on Chapel Field in 1878. The meeting included the 10 miles scratch race for the championship of the Eastern Counties which was won by W Popplewell in 42 min 51 sec.

The Norfolk and Norwich BC moved their annual race meeting to the Lakenham Cricket Ground after 1878. There was a match race (unstated distance) on March 13th 1879 between F Hall and R Page, the latter winning the race despite falling.

Chapel Field does not seem to have been used for bicycle races after 1879.


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Photos : From the authors own collection