Raleigh had a long history of promoting sporting activity for its workforce. The Raleigh Athletic Club (RAC) started in 1902 with the objective to promote and assist any sports, pastimes, recreations and other forms of athletic and social activity'. The club colours were black and amber. Club membership cost one penny a week and half a crown a year for an individual club group.
Harold Bowden took over as chairman of Raleigh in 1921 and he took a keen interest in the RAC. In 1927 Raleigh bought 13 acres of land on Ilkeston Road in Radford to be used for company sport. I have not been able to find the exact location of the sports ground.
Bicycle race meetings were held at the Ilkeston Road grounds. On August 6th 1927 the Nottingham and Notts Bicycle and Sports Association held a Championship sports meeting in conjunction with Nottingham police and RAC. The events included a National pursuit race and national track champions Albert Theaker, Albert White and the Horn brothers appeared. The Nottinghamshire Amateur Athletic Association held a Championship Sports Day at Ilkeston Road on June 1st and the star studded event again included Theaker, White and Harry Wyld. The top race was the one lap scratch, which attracted 80 entries. The Wyld brothers were favourites but Sheffield rider J Holmes won the event. The Nottingham Evening Post reported that loudspeakers were used at the event.
The Ilkeston Road grounds were closed in 1930 when they were compulsorily purchased, after which Raleigh bought 14 acres of land at Coach Road, Wollaton and built a pavilion, baths and living accommodation for a resident steward. The grounds were later extended by a further 16.5 acres and by the end of the 1930's the facilities included; three football pitches, three cricket squares, four hard tennis courts, a bowling green, a running track, a hockey pitch and a fishing pond. In addition, badminton, indoor bowls and table tennis were catered for in the works canteen. There was also a cycling track at Coach Road which was 3 laps to the mile.
Although it is recorded that the Coach Road grounds were purchased in 1930, the Nottingham Journal reported a sports meeting at Wollaton on June 22nd 1929 which was a great day for Raleigh Athletic Club' with local and national championships. The Wyld brothers were prominent and in the 5 miles (Notts and Derby centre) Championship, Leonard Wyld won, beating his brother Percy by inches. Interestingly the press report of the meeting shows the club affiliation of some cyclists as Raleigh AC but also shows the cyclist team pursuit team as Raleigh CC. So there could have been a cycling club section at Raleigh Sports or the cyclists could have ridden under the Raleigh Athletic Club banner.
Cycle racing at Raleigh is, surprisingly, not well documented. Steven Lea Crewe [ref 498] has researched the history of the Raleigh Athletic Club extensively and he comments that the company Sports Day in 1946 seems to have included some cycle races for cash prizes. It is likely that the cycle track fell into disuse in the 1950's.