Southport - Winter Gardens
Lord Street : PR8 1ND
Southport - Winter Gardens : Map credit National Library of Scotland Southport - Winter Gardens : Image credit Wiki Commons Southport Winter Gardens was built on a site of 40 acres, at a cost of £100,000 and opened in 1874. There were two pavilions with a covered promenade; the winter garden pavilion was 180 feet long, over 40 feet longer than Kew Palm House. It had a salt water lake, bicycle track, bowling, cricket and football fields.

The first bicycle race in the grounds of Southport Winter Gardens was on 16th April 1879 and the Wigan Observer reported "The affair was a complete success, the attendance being very large, and the racing good." There were two races, a 1 mile handicap and a 2 miles scratch race and the crowd was estimated to be 7,000. The program was repeated at a second meeting in August.

Bicycle racing continued to be an attraction with Easter and August Bank Holiday meetings taking place from 1880. It was reported that, in 1881, the track was asphalt with sharp corners that caused many spills.

The Southport Amateur BC and Preston Winckley BC held a series of inter-club races in August 1883. The Athletic news of May 2nd 1883 reported that "the track at the Southport Winter Gardens has been wonderfully improved by the raising of the corners, and now riders can scud along at their best rate without fear of accident." The Easter meeting in 1883 drew a crowd of 5,000 people to the various attractions at the Gardens, including the bicycle races.

The Easter or Whitsun and August race meeting continued with the usual format of one and two miles events until 1887. There does not appear to be any further bicycle racing there after this time.

The Gardens were not a commercial success and the addition of an Opera House in 1890 stretched the company too far and they went into liquidation in 1898. There were attempts to run the Gardens after this but eventually the Winter Gardens were demolished in 1933 and the Pavilion in 1962. The site was eventually used as a supermarket and is currently occupied by Morrisons.

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Photos : Wiki Commons
Maps    : National Library of Scotland