Southampton - Westwood Park

Westwood Road : SO19 9QR Southampton - Westwood Park : Map credit National Library of Scotland
Westwood House was built in the late 18th century as was surrounded by 44 acres of land, known as Westwood Park. Westwood House was demolished in 1872. Southampton Horticultural Society was formed in 1862 and leased ‘a block of land between Winn and Westwood Roads between 1883 and 1897, which it operated ‘as pleasure and show grounds. A running track, tennis courts and other amenities were later added.'

Bicycle racing at Westwood Park was held on a grass track in the new Horticultural Society Gardens. The ground around the Westwood track formed, in part, an amphitheatre, giving spectators a good view of the racing.

The first bicycle race was at the Southampton Athletic Sports, held on July 7th 1883, which included a two miles bicycle handicap race.

The Horticultural Society held Promenade Concerts followed by running and bicycle sports and on 30th July 1883, the Southampton Rangers CC held their 10 miles scratch club championship on a 300 yards grass track. There were six competitors and F Atkinson won the gold medal and an aneroid barometer beating JW Dowdall in 42 min 12 sec, there were 1,200 spectators.

There was bicycle racing at Westwood Park throughout the 1880's with Southampton Rangers CC holding several meetings and joint athletics and cycling club championship meetings.

A new cinder track, 5 laps to the mile was opened at Westwood with a meeting on August 5th 1889. The track was under the management of Southampton Rangers CC and Southampton Harriers. The bicycle events at the meeting were 1 and 2 miles handicap and a 5 miles scratch race. At this time both ordinaries and safeties raced together. In the 1 mile handicap, first and second places went to ordinary riders. In the 5 miles scratch race there were seven ordinaries and five safeties. The event concluded with a grand fireworks display.

A further ‘Grand Annual Championship Sports' meeting was held on August 31st 1889. This sealed the fate of the nearby Imperial bicycle track, which did not hold anymore bicycle races. The new cinder track and the demise of the Imperial track resulted in a very busy period at Westwood and the Southampton CC and Southampton Wanderers CC moved their events to Westwood.

The Horticultural Society held their show on Whit Monday 1890 and had a large bicycle sports event with races over 1 and 3 miles handicap, 5 miles scratch and an inter-club race over 2 miles. There were 211 entries including some ‘London cracks'. The first prize for the five miles race was a gold watch and Albert value £10 (£1,350 in 2022). A carnival was held after the sports, followed by a fireworks display.

On August Bank Holiday 1890 there was a meeting with a 1 mile bicycle race and a ‘Fireworks champion' race. Southampton CC held a county championship race meeting on July 12th 1890 with races for ordinaries, safeties and dwarf machines.

Bicycle racing at Westwood Park remained popular in the 1890's. The Spring Flower Show sports and the Horticultural Society sports at August Bank Holiday were the main meetings, the latter attracting an ‘immense attendance'.

The last bicycle racing at Westwood Park was in 1897, there was a school sports meeting on Sept 15th, but the last open meeting was the Southampton CC and Southampton Wanderers CC event on August 2nd 1897. The bicycle races were; 3 laps handicap, 1 mile handicap, 2 miles scratch. There was also a runner v cyclist race, the runner had 2 laps start in 5, but the cyclist caught the runner with a quarter of a lap to run. After the races, there was dancing and thousands of fairy lights and Japanese lanterns were lit.

By 1908, old maps show that the Park had been completely developed for housing between Winn Road and Westwood Road.


Refs     : [76] [80] [196] [201] [504] [p]
Maps    : National Library of Scotland