Blackburn - Ewood Park
Bolton Road : BB2 4JF
Blackburn - Ewood Park : Map credit National Library of Scotland The first bicycle racing at Ewood was at Croft Farm, Ewood Bridge, at the East Lancashire Agricultural Society sports 1876, when a two miles bicycle race was held in front of a crowd of 10,000 people.

Ewood Park opened in 1882 and the park had a half mile bicycle track with football and athletics facilities in the track centre. The Ewood Park Gala Company held a three day gala and sports meeting over the Whitsun 1882 holidays. At the sports meeting, there was a five miles bicycle handicap race but there were only three starters.

A cinder track was laid at Ewood Park in 1883 and Blackburn Cycling Club held a meeting on July 5th 1883 with a three miles club scratch race, which was won by John Leigh on a 54 inch Rudge, who won a silver medal. The Gala and sports was held the following year at August Bank Holiday

Blackburn Bicycle Club was formed some time in the 1870s and in 1883 they changed their name to Blackburn Cycling Club, to embrace tricycle riding. There was a split in the club and the Crescent Cycling Club was formed in 1886, but the new club did not last very long.

The Blackburn CC held bicycle race meetings mainly at Ewood Park but occasionally at other locations including Preston Zoological Gardens (1884-1887) and Alexandra Meadows (1902 and 1903).

From 1890, Blackburn Rovers FC played at Ewood Park. In the 1890, Blackburn Rovers FC sports were held together with Blackburn CC meetings. The Blackburn cycling clubs combined for meetings and competed for the Blackburn Rovers Football Challenge Cup, value 10 guineas, with races over half, one and two miles.

In the early 1890s, the cinder track 440 yards banked and for the Blackburn CC sports on August 4th 1894 it was announced that "The corners of the track will be specially widened and banked". Following the 1896 Blackburn CC sports, Thomas Webster of Blackburn was suspended for ‘roping'^^

The annual sports attracted good crowds, in 1897, there were 4,000 spectators. Meetings continued into the 1900s, but stopped in 1914 when the First World War broke out. Blackburn CC revived their sports in 1920, but in 1922 there were poor crowds due to bad weather and when attendance was poor in 1923, the sports were not held again. This was to be the last bicycle racing to take place at Ewood Park.

Blackburn Rovers FC still play at Ewood Park, 133 years after they first moved there.

^^ Roping in a race is when a rider deliberately loses a race. This could be for betting purposes, bribery or collaboration with other riders to share prize money

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Maps    : National Library of Scotland