Birmingham - Perry Barr - Alexander Sports Ground

Aldridge Road : B42 2ET
There is a report that Fred Wood, a cyclist from the Midlands, became World Champion at a Perry Barr Race meet on 4th August 1889. The location is not recorded but the 1890 map shows a cricket ground at Perry Barr which is a possible venue.

The Alexander Sports Ground was built in 1929 on a former power station ash tip. It was built for Birchfield Harriers but also used by Birchfield Cycling Club. The July 22nd 1929 Edition of Athletic News previews the Alexander Sports Ground. "There are two tracks- that for foot racing being of black cinder, 440 yards round, with plenty of racing space and easy bends; that for cycling surrounds this, is laid of red ash, well banked, and is 500 yards round. The stand is a finely-built Brick erection, with seating accommodation for 1,000". The Birmingham Gazette of 26th July 1929 carries an advert for the opening of the ground on 27th July 1929 at 2.30pm. The cycling stars appearing are billed as "Frank Southall (world's wonder cyclist and holder of mile world record), FH Wyld, Albert White" and many others. The track was described as "slow" by Athletic News. A crowd of 10,000 people turned out for the opening meeting.

Sports meetings with cycling and athletics continued until the outbreak of the Second World War, with the very popular Good Friday meet attracting top stars. NCU Championships were often decided at the ground, the July 25th 1931 meet featured the ¼ mile NCU Championship. Hercules, the bicycle manufacturers, held their sports meetings there and the Railways sports titles were also decided at Perry Barr. Aston Villa trained at the sports ground in 1936.

The Alexander Sports Ground was requisitioned in WW2 for the Home Guard and accommodating Italian prisoners.

There was no racing at the sports ground for 10 years until Birchfield Cycling Club and Birchfield Harriers held a floodlit meeting on 29th September 1948. George Newbery, the winner of the 5 miles invitation scratch race commented "It is a very fast track...the surface is much better than it was in pre-war days, though the track was a bit soft on the corners and I missed the banking". There were floodlit evening sports meeting with bicycle races in the early 1950's but bicycle racing at the ground seemed to lose its popularity and the track is not listed in the 1955 NCU Racing Handbook.

Birchfield Harriers moved into the new Alexander Stadium (B42 2LR) at Perry Park in 1977. Confusingly, there was another stadium called Perry Barr Stadium (B42 1AA) next to the Alexander Sports Ground (B42 2ET). The Perry Barr Stadium was demolished after the 1980's and the One Stop Shopping Centre was built there. At this time, the old Alexander Sports Ground was renamed the Perry Barr Stadium. Perry Barr Stadium is now mainly used for greyhound racing.


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