Tunbridge Wells - Southborough Common

London Road : TN4 0RJ
The Commons at Tunbridge Wells are areas of outstanding natural beauty that date back to the 13th century. The Higher Ground was used by Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club from 1839. Less than a mile north-west is the Lower Ground, which was used for cricket from 1850. Southborough Common further to the north-west was used for cricket from 1794.

The first bicycle racing at Southborough was at the Southborough Cycling Club's meeting on June 28th 1905. The cricket ground had been marked off with an eight laps to the mile track and there were five races at the meeting of half and one mile. The event was repeated the following year and attracted 2,000 spectators. In 1909 the Southborough CC moved their venue and held the sports in the grounds of St Andrews' church (TN4 0NA).

The Southborough CC was disbanded in April 1912, so the new Southborough Sports Association was formed to run the annual sports. At the 1914 sports on the cricket ground, there was a crowd of over 2,000 spectators and the bicycle races were; half and one mile handicap races, a one mile scratch race and a half mile tradesmen's carrier cycle race.

The annual sports were held for the next twenty six years, but by 1937, the sports were in trouble, the organisation had a financial deficit and entries for cycling and running events were very poor.

Racing activity at Southborough was revived in the late 1940's by Bob Lawrence, of the Tunbridge Wells Albion CC, who organised some mid-week bicycle races on Southborough Common, commencing with an event on September 1st 1948. The Kent and Sussex Courier reported on the events which were; Club Championship races over half mile, two miles and three miles, a half mile ladies race, the half mile Junior Championship and a four lap boy's race. The event was repeated the following year.

The West Kent Cycle Racing League was formed in 1950 with four local clubs, Tunbridge Wells Albion CC, Southborough & District Wheelers, Tunbridge Wells Road Club and Sevenoaks Wheelers. Their first League meeting was held at Yew Tree Playing Fields (TN4 0NL) on June 12th 1950 and twenty four riders took part. The events included sprint, pursuit, scratch and devil races. Eight events were held that year and the Albion won the league championship from Tunbridge Wells RC. The league continued for a few years.

After a successful revival of bicycle racing in Tunbridge Wells, the Tunbridge Wells Albion CC membership and support declined and the last bicycle races at Southborough were probably in 1953.


Refs     : [145] [p]