Stoke on Trent - Hanley Cobridge

Athletic Ground : ST6 3LQ Stoke on Trent - Hanley Cobridge : Map credit National Library of Scotland
A new limited company, called Port Vale Football and Athletic Company, was set up on July 24th 1885 with the objective of setting up a local sports ground. The company obtained a 21 year lease on a seven acre piece of land, which was formerly a waste heap of a nearby pit, and was owned by the Sandbach Charity Scheme,. The company was capitalised with 2,000 £1 shares and Burslem Port Vale FC took 100 shares, intending to make the ground their permanent home.

The site was drained and levelled and the Cobridge Athletic Ground was constructed in 1886 at a cost of £1,500. It had a banked bicycle track, four laps to the mile and seven yards wide, there was a pitch in the middle of the track, a grandstand for 1,000 people, changing and dressing rooms.

The new ground was opened on September 4th 1886 with the first annual sports of the Athletic Club, which included one and two miles bicycle handicap races and a five miles scratch race. The attendance at the meeting was between five and six thousand.

Burslem Cycling Club was formed in 1883, their annual subscription was 7s 6d and the club uniform was navy blue. The athletic club provided track racing facilities for Buslem CC.

The June 25th and 27th 1887 athletic club festival attracted some good riders. On the first day, William Ball of Speedwell BC won the one mile scratch and three miles handicap races. On the second day, Robert Cripps* won the two miles tricycle handicap race, Tom Parker won the two miles bicycle handicap and William Illston, the NCU 25 miles champion, won the five miles open scratch race.

The athletic club continued holding their summer sports meeting with bicycle races through to the 1890's.

Burslem CC held their annual sports at the Port Vale Football Grounds on August 25th 1888 and the open bicycle events were one and five miles handicap races. At the August 31st 1889 sports there was a five miles club handicap race for ‘bonafide roadsters' and half, one and three miles open handicap races, but attendance at the meeting was disappointing,

The Port Vale Athletic sports were held through the 1890's but the Burslem CC meeting moved in 1892 to Clough Hall, Kidsgrove (ST7 1AN) and in 1893 to the Stoke Victoria ground, as the Port Vale ground was unavailable. The cycling club went into decline some time after this.

Port Vale FC held professional sports meetings from 1910, with a bicycle race. At the June 29th 1912 event, there was a half mile bicycle handicap race, but attendance was disappointing and this was probably the last bicycle racing at the ground.

Port Vale FC left the ground in 1913 and moved to the Old Recreation Ground in Hanley, where they continued to run their sports meeting but without bicycle racing. A greyhound track was built around the pitch in 1932 and there was greyhound racing there until 1954. The ground was then used as a sports stadium, and after that for greyhound racing again from 1985 until 1991. The site was finally developed for housing in the area now known as Greyhound way.

* Robert Cripps was a bicycle maker from Nottingham, who went on to make motorcycles and cars.


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