Salisbury - Victoria Park and Recreation Ground

Castle Road : SP1 3NE Salisbury - Victoria Park and Recreation Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland Salisbury - Victoria Park and Recreation Ground : Image credit Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum
Victoria Park was planned in 1887, Queen Victoria's Jubilee year and the land was purchased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for £1,900. The Salisbury Times of February 18th 1888 carried a reported on the progress of the Victoria Park and Recreation Ground construction. The recreation ground had been fenced around and the cricket ground levelled and turfed. There would be facilities for football, cricket, tennis, athletics and bicycle racing.

The trustees of the ground proposed to lay a cinder bicycle track around the cricket pitch, which would cost £50 and the Salisbury Bicycle Club would also make a contribution. The construction time for the track would be six weeks. The work on the 440 yards cycle track was delayed March 1889

The new track opened on August Bank Holiday 1889, with a very successful Grand Opening Fete, with running and bicycle races, a military tournament and a fireworks display. With the bicycle racing, there were 22 starters in the one mile handicap race, which was won by J Blair of the Catford CC in 2m 55s, off 30 yards. Blair also won the three miles handicap race and local rider C King won the five miles scratch. Southampton Wanderers won the prize of a bugle for the largest turnout, with 17 club members attending. The attendance was a remarkable 6,497 and the takings on the day were £232 19s 11d.

The Salisbury C&AC held Whit Monday. The club made £23 profit on the event which was handed over to the trustees of Victoria Park who were trying to raise £150 for the annual maintenance of the park. Victoria Park was a public park and open to the public for free. On race days, the cycle track was fenced off and an entrance fee was charged.

An evening meeting was held by the club on August 13th 1890 and included the NCU (Southampton) Centre 5 miles Championship. Unfortunately, the attendance was not good and the club lost £16 10s on the event.

Throughout the 1890's, track was used mainly for Salisbury C&AC meetings, the annual Whit Monday and August Bank Holiday were very well supported. There were various mid-week meetings with mixed success, low attendance being the problem.

It was reported, in April 1898, that the Stratford Road corner had been banked up more thoroughly by about a foot. By this time the Salisbury C&AC racing activity had reduced considerably and it was commented at the AGM that the club was now virtually a social club. This reduced racing activity by the club meant that the track saw little use for bicycle racing.

The Salisbury C&AC held their 10th annual sports on Whit Monday 1898 meeting with 1, 2 and 3 miles handicap races and a 5 miles scratch for Mr Gramshaw's 30 guinea challenge cup. The attendance at 3,000 was considered to be quite low. This was probably the last time that bicycle racing took place at Victoria Park.

Victoria Park is still a popular facility in Salisbury and has football and cricket pitches and a community tennis centre.


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Photos : Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum
Maps    : National Library of Scotland