Sheffield - Queens Grounds

Langsett Road : S6 2LJ Sheffield - Queens Grounds : Image credit Sheffield Telegraph
The Queens Grounds were next to the Queens Hotel on Langsett Road, opposite the Hillsborough barracks. The Grounds had a cricket pitch with a track 396 yards around which was used for pedestrian races (walking races) from 1856. The Queens Ground was opened for business in 1833 and is still a pub. From 1865 to 1876 Alfred Peat was the licensee and proprietor of the Queens Grounds, his son Reuben took over the licence from him and held it until 1879.

Velocipedes first made their appearance in Sheffield in early 1869 and races followed shortly after this. The first race at the Queens Grounds was on the 20th May 1879 which was reported in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph on May 21st. The ‘race' was more of a demonstration event to increase interest in velocipedes and advertise machines. The Brown Brothers, from Liverpool, were the star riders at the event and the two miles race saw them win on bicycles from their own company. There followed a slow bicycle race, then a one mile handicap race, which again they won. The meeting was organised by Mr Edwards. The following week, the Brown Brother gave a bicycling performance at the music hall on Blonk Street.

Further meetings at Queens Grounds were held in 1869. On Monday 5th July there was a 1½ miles handicap event but unfortunately only three riders turned up and no prizes were given for the event. On July 19th there was a three miles handicap race and on 6th September, at the St Vincent's football club there was a two miles race with twelve competitors.

On the 28th of April 1872 there was a £60 match race over one mile between F Cooper of Sheffield and J Prince Beardsley of Derby. There were around 600 spectators at the event and betting was very heavy. Cooper won by four yards in 3 min 31 sec. Fred Cooper was the English one mile Champion six times between 1872 and 1879; his greatest rival was John Keen.

The Queens Grounds held many high quality events in the 1870's which drew crowds of 4,000 people. In September 1875 there were a series of match races between Fred Cooper and John Keen over one mile. These match races between the two best riders in the country were held at Queens Grounds, Lillie Bridge and Bramhall Lane. Match races for a large purse seemed popular at Queens Grounds with the top riders Bill Cann, Fred Cooper and John Keen competing fairly regularly.

Self publicity was used to increase public interest in match races and Fred Cooper announced in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 26th April 1877 "As no notice has been taken of my last challenge to J Keen, I again beg to state that I am still open to run any man in the world a one mile bicycle race, on the Lillie Bridge Ground, London for £200 a side - J Keen very much preferred."

During the 1880's bicycle racing at the Grounds reduced, although other types of meetings were popular, such as running and pedestrian racing. In 1888 the new proprietor of the Grounds hosted the All England Pedestrian Handicap for a £100 prize. Up to 20,000 spectators would attend the running races, mainly if the ‘fastest man on two legs' Harry Hutchens was running.

The Sheffield and Hallamshire Bicycle Club used to regularly hold monthly handicap races and drew a crowd of 300 to 400 spectators. Bicycle race meetings seemed to have ceased after 1890.

The Queens Hotel is now known as the Queens Ground Hotel and it still exists as a pub at 401 Langsett Road, Hillsborough. The Sheffield History website comments "Today, little remains to show the pub's historical connections except for the house sign - a runner breaking the tape - and part of a wall that bounded the track."


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Photos : Sheffield Telegraph