Norwich - Lakenham Ground

City Road : NR1 3AR Norwich - Lakenham Ground : Image credit (c) Dereham Times
Lakenham Cricket Ground was first used for cricket in 1827. The ground was known variously as ‘Lakenham Cricket Ground', ‘Old Lakenham Cricket Ground‘ and ‘the Old Cricket Ground'. The Lakenham ground was owned by Jeremiah James Colman of the Colman's mustard family and he allowed the use of the ground for sports.

The first bicycle racing at Lakenham was when Norfolk and Norwich Bicycle Club held their 3rd annual bicycle race meeting on October 2nd 1879, having moved the venue from Chapel Field. The events at the meeting were a 1 mile open handicap race, a 1 mile scratch race for the Championship of Norwich and a 2 miles club handicap race. The grass bicycle track at Lakenham was usually marked out at 4 laps to the mile and was generally described as being in good condition. This late summer meeting became an annual event and attracted up to 4,000 spectators.

The Norwich Amateur Bicycle Club organised the 1881 annual meet and the two clubs Norfolk & Norwich ABC and Norwich ABC held a joint sports meeting on August 17th 1882. The events at this meeting were were a 1 mile open bicycle race, a 1 mile tricycle club handicap race and a 2 miles club handicap.

Norwich Athletic Club held an Easter meeting at Lakenham in 1884 at which bicycle racing was very prominent. The club had moved from the previous year's venue (the Rifle Parade Ground) and the Easter meeting at Lakenham became an annual fixture. Tricycle and tandem tricycle races were often included in the sports and for a short period a dwarf bicycle handicap race was run.

The 1886 meeting attracted 6,000 to 7,000 spectators to watch the five bicycle races and other sports. The top cycling event was a 5 miles scratch race, which was won by Percy Furnivall* in 20 min 14.6 sec.

The Norfolk & Norwich ABC and Norwich ABC continued to hold the annual sports meetings into the 1890's but by 1895, attendances had dropped and apart from a few school sports meetings, bicycle racing at Lakenham had stopped by 1900.

The Lakenham ground had a beautiful cricket pavilion with a thatched roof. The ground was described by Henry Blofeld, the BBC cricket commentator, as one of the most famous minor county grounds. Colman's sold the ground in 1993 and it was developed for housing in the area around Bellville Crescent.

* Percy Furnivall was a champion cyclist, a leading colorectal surgeon and in 1888, he wrote a book " Physical Training for High Speed Competitions"


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