Reading - Kings Meadow

Napier Road : RG1 8AB
In 1869 Reading town purchased 12 acres of Kings Meadow next to the Thames for used as a Recreation Ground which was nothing more than an enclosed area with no facilities. Reading Cricket Club and Reading FC both played there.

There were many sports meetings held at the Recreation Ground in the 1880's; the meeting of 14th July 1882 is typical. At the evening meeting, Reading Amateur Athletic Society organised the events, there was a 1 mile running race, a 2 miles bicycle handicap race, a tug of war, an obstacle race and a consolation running race. The band of the 1st Berks Rifles played and there was a ¼ mile race for band members.

In 1882 there was a County Bicycle Club meeting at Kings Meadow and 100 bicyclists turned out and rode in procession around the town, watched by "a large concourse of spectators."

The cricket club ground, next to the Recreation Ground at Kings Meadow, also held sports meeting which included bicycle races. In 1887 the athletic meet organised by Reading Cricket Club used both the cricket ground and the Recreation Ground for events including a two miles bicycle handicap.

After the track at Palmer Park opened in the early 1890's there was little bicycle racing at Kings Meadow, except for local fetes and Queen Victoria's Jubilee events in 1897.

At the Reading Royal Jubilee Festivities Committee meeting in May 1897, the Jubilee sports arrangements were discussed and Kings Meadow was selected as the venue rather than Palmer Park, as this would make it easier to segregate amateur and non-amateur competitors* and aquatic sports could be held there. At the meeting it was commented "The question of amateur and non-amateur sport was a burning one...they had to act strictly under the definitions of the amateur and non-amateur associations."

The Cricket Club organised the Diamond Jubilee sports at Kings Meadow in July 1897, for amateurs residing in Reading, which included a one mile handicap race and a slow bicycle race. There was also a "non-amateur sports" meeting on the recreation ground for Reading residents which also included a one mile bicycle handicap race.

The Emmer Green Jubilee sports were held at Kings Meadow on 12th July 1897 and included a one mile handicap bicycle race.

* At this time the AAA and NCU were embroiled in controversy about the definition of an amateur and whether manual workers were amateurs. It also has class overtones with the "gentleman amateur".


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