Milton Keynes - Wolverton LNWR Sports Ground

Wolverton Park : MK12 5FP Milton Keynes - Wolverton LNWR Sports Ground : Map credit Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps Milton Keynes - Wolverton LNWR Sports Ground : Image credit Bryan Dunleavy
The Wolverton Recreation Ground was open on August 3rd 1885 with a grand carnival and sports meeting. The main employer in Wolverton was the carriage works of the London and North-Western Railway Company and they provided the recreation ground which was next to the railway station and the carriage works. A cinder track 440 yards long was constructed to be used for cycling and athletics. Because of the site, which was between converging railway lines, the track was egg-shaped and this would prove troublesome later. The opening was a splendid event and attracted thousands of visitors, the Sunday School scholars were treated to "a pork pie apiece and lemonade". The bicycle races included 1 and 3 mile events.

Throughout the 1880's and 90's Wolverton Amateur Athletics Club held sports on the recreation ground, usually including two or three bicycles races. There were complaints about the safety of the sharp corner on the track and in 1898, the track had again to be banked at the gas works end because of previous accidents there. The meeting of 1899 was organised by the Wolverton Mazeppa* Cycling Club and included the NCU (Northampton) championships, 260 competitors rode at the meeting. Some sports meeting were so well supported that they were spread over two days. In 1899 the athletics club added a 100-seat grandstand for spectators.

Race reports show sports being held on the Recreation Ground up to around 1922. Interestingly the NCU Racing Handbook of 1955, lists Wolverton Park, so it may still have been in use then. It gives track details; lap size 418 yards, width 19 feet and a maximum banking of 30 degrees. The surface is shown as ‘Resmat' a popular cold-lay tarmac, a surface that was used on some other tracks including Herne Hill. The track is shown on old maps until the 1970's but it may just have been a running track.

The Wolverton Amateur Athletics Club website comments that "the Whitsun Sports were revived in 1947....However by the end of this decade club membership was dwindling and the final Whitsun Sports were held in 1962". The athletics club left Wolverton Park around 1967 due to deteriorating facilities. It is unlikely that there was any bicycle racing at Wolverton after this date.

Football has long been played at Wolverton Park, Wolverton AFC played there until 1992. Milton Keynes City moved into Wolverton Park in 1998 and left the ground in 2003. At some point the cycle track was partially destroyed by cutting into the bankings to enlarge the football pitch. After 2003, the park remained derelict until the park area around the track and the old carriage works were developed as flats.

*Mazeppa was a poem by Byron, also the name of a well known locomotive and a make of bicycle in the 1890's.

Milton Keynes - Wolverton LNWR Sports Ground : Image credit Bryan Dunleavy Milton Keynes - Wolverton LNWR Sports Ground : Image credit www.tims92.co.uk Milton Keynes - Wolverton LNWR Sports Ground : Image credit Ian Stokes personal collection
Refs     : [6] [90] [105] [271] [347] [p]
Photos : Bryan Dunleavy, www.tims92.co.uk, Ian Stokes personal collection
Maps    : Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps