Poole - Poole Park Track

Sandbanks Road : BH15 2SF Poole - Poole Park Track : Image credit William Wilson Poole - Poole Park Track : Image credit William Wilson
Poole Park was formally opened by the Prince of Wales on 18th January 1890. Work on the completion of the park continued throughout 1890, with one of the last features, the cricket ground, being completed early in 1892. The cricket ground had a circular, 3 laps to the mile (586 yards) hard cycle track around it, 25 feet wide and very slightly banked.

The first bicycle event in Poole Park was a track meet, held on Wednesday 30th September 1893, organised by the Royal Wedding Celebration Committee (the future George V's marriage in 1893) which attracted 4,000 people. The bicycle races had a good entry, 23 in the three miles handicap. Other events were boys under 17 one mile race and a one mile roadster handicap for machines 35lbs and over. Wednesday was half day closing in Poole, so holding races on Wednesday would boost attendance.

A three mile scratch race for novices was held on 17th July 1895 "in the presence of a large number of persons". The race resulted in a dead heat for 3rd place, so the two riders raced another lap for third prize

The Southern Echo of the 23rd July 1896 reported that Poole Cycling Club had organised a race meeting on Poole Park track which included the 1 and 5 miles NCU (Southampton Centre) championships. Poole CC changed its name to Poole Wheelers.

The cycle track at Poole Park seems to have been well used in the 1890's, Poole Wheelers ran their sports meeting on 7th September 1898, the events included the 1 and 5 miles championships and the meeting concluded with a 20 miles paced event for club members, won in 50 min 57 sec. This format of race meet seems to have been used until the 1970's but with the 20 miles event being un-paced.

After a quiet period, Poole Park's popularity increased with the formation of Poole Wheelers and Athletic Club in 1926. The meeting in May 1930 attracted 12,000 people.

Racing on the track became something of an adventure, in William Wilson's excellent blog (Marguerite Wilson's son) he describes sunken drains, the track narrowing to 2m, solid benches and trees only a metre from the outside of the track. Still, in the 1970's the evening track league saw fields of 30 riders competing.

In 2014 the Poole Park website commented that the track is suitable for training but not for racing which would involve the installation of barriers and signage.

The Grade I listed cricket pavilion is used by Poole Wheelers as their club house.

Poole - Poole Park Track : Image credit William Wilson Poole - Poole Park Track : Image credit William Wilson Poole - Poole Park Track : Image credit William Wilson Poole - Poole Park Track : Image credit William Wilson Poole - Poole Park Track : Image credit Alan Johnson
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Photos : William Wilson, Alan Johnson