Preston - Pleasure Gardens

Farringdon Park : PR1 5TR
The Preston Pleasure Gardens were opened in 1876 by the Preston Nursery and Pleasure Gardens Co. Ltd who had raised £20,000 to buy the land known as The Dingle, close to Farington Hall. They created Pleasure and Recreational Gardens with pleasure boats, bowling greens, croquet and archery lawns. A football pitch and a cycle track were also added.

The first bicycle races at the "Nursery Gardens" were held on Saturday 24th August 1878 and were organised by the Conservative Working Men's Club. The press report at the time was brief "The bicycle race (two miles) was won easily by C Cuff, of Preston, W Kerfoot, also of Preston, taking second position."

The Preston Chronicle of 12th April 1879 described the "Preston Nursery and Pleasure Gardens. These gardens will be opened for the season today, with a bicycle contest, for which a good number of entries have been made. As some of the competitors are first class, there will be an exciting contest." On the 2nd of September 1879, the Preston Bicycle Club held a 5 miles club handicap race on the track, 20 times around. Seven club members competed and the gold medal winner was LW Clarke off scratch in 21 min 57 sec.

The Pleasure Gardens were re-launched in 1882 with new owners the sports meeting on Easter Saturday was attended by 4,000 people to watch athletic sports which included one bicycle event, a one mile amateur handicap race. At Whitsun there was another sports meeting, this time a 5 miles amateur handicap was included.

The Pleasure Gardens seems to have changed hands again in 1885, the Easter meet was retained but press reports that attendances were low.

A two miles handicap race was held on June 26th 1891 at the Pleasure Gardens "open to any class of tyres." The newspaper articles goes on to warn riders "we would remind riders intending competing at the North End Sports, or any other such gatherings held under the NCU, that if they take part in this race, they will be liable to disqualification."

A new track was opened at Ewood Park, 16 miles away, by Blackburn Rovers FC on the 11th July 1891, which was described as "one of the fastest of its kind in the North of England."

At the Police Courts on 6th April 1892, the application for a music and dancing licence for the Pleasure Gardens was refused after opposition from religious leaders and temperance societies. This probably was the death knoll for the economic viability of the Gardens.

By 1903 The Pleasure Gardens was known as Farringdon Park and was operated by the Green Family well known in for their involvement with fairground and cinema entertainment. The West End Cycling Club held their 9th Annual Amateur Athletic Sports on the Farringdon Park Grounds, on June 25th 1904. The bicycle races were: ½ mile and 1 mile Open handicap and 1 mile Novices open handicap. The track was described as "cinder, greatly improved and in thoroughly good, hard condition, 4½ laps to the mile."

There was a "capital entry" of 213 competitors for the 1st annual professional sports meeting at Farringdon on May 14th 1910 which included ¼, ½ and 1 mile bicycle races. This initiative did not last long and there was no bicycle racing at Farringdon after 1910.

In 1925 Preston Grasshoppers rugby club took on a lease for Farringdon and though it was an unsatisfactory ground they remained there for nine seasons. In 1929 they sub-let part of the grounds for use as a motorcycle speedway track but it was not financially successful.

In the mid 1930's the majority of the land was re-developed and in the late 1950's the site was used for housing and Farringdon Crescent was built.


Refs     : [73] [81] [137] [416] [p]