Bolton - Burnden Park

Manchester Road : BL3 2NE Bolton - Burnden Park : Image credit Lion of Vienna Suite Bolton - Burnden Park : Image credit British Film Archive free player
Bolton Wanderers first held their annual sports in 1887 at the Pike's Lane ground. From 1890, the sports included bicycle races. The Sports eventually expanded to two days, August Bank Holiday Saturday and Monday. Bolton Wanderers set up a limited company in 1894 to raise money to move to a new ground.

Bolton moved to Burnden Park in August 1895 and the newspaper The Clarion of August 17th 1895 described their new track. "At last Lancashire has got an up-to-date racing track in the one constructed of McQuone‘s patent cement*...The track is a quarter mile in circumference, the peculiarity of it being that the straights are also slightly banked, whilst the ends are banked to a height of 7ft 9in."

The first event on the new track was the 1895 annual sports, which included six bicycle races. In the one mile handicap race, the makers of the track offered a silver cup (value 10 guineas) for the fastest time. The track was described as "The cement cycle track is one of the fastest in the North of England (Laid by Mr JO McQuone maker of the Wood Green track.)". The banked cycle track unfortunately drained onto the football pitch and resulted in some matches being postponed.

At the 1896 sports, Thomas Gascoyne won the 5 miles handicap race off scratch and also won second and third places in other events. Gascoyne went on to turn professional and hold two world records. At this meeting AV Roe won the 1 mile handicap race for local riders. AV Roe went on to set up his aircraft company Avro's who designed the Lancaster bomber and the Vulcan.

The top professional riders Thomas Gascoyne and A Macferson met for a series of three match races over a half, one and two miles at Burnden Park on July 3rd 1897. The betting was 5 to 4 on Macferson, but Gascoyne won the first race, over half a mile, by a wheel.

In the late 1890's several organisations held their sports, with bicycle racing, at Burnden Park including Bolton Harriers, the Deaf and Dumb Athletic Club and the Sunday Schools Social League.

The Scotsman of April 5th 1897 advertised an Easter Saturday and Monday ‘Great Professional Sports' which included one and five miles bicycle races. The bicycle races were on a ‘good banked cement track.'

There was a star studded track meeting on May 27th 1899 where Platt-Betts competed against Palmer in a motor paced 10 miles pursuit match.

A large crowd of 8,000 attended the 1899 annual sports but the state of the track was cause for concern. The Athletic News of August 28th comments "Unfortunately a series of accidents marred the proceedings, and the club will have to take energetic measures to have the shape of the track altered before next season if they are desirous of keeping up their reputation.

The 1902 sports attracted 12,000 people, but betting still blighted athletics meetings. The Bolton Evening News commenting "Although the bookmaker fraternity were not absent, they were less numerous and vociferous than of yore." In 1904 there were 8 bicycle racing events from a quarter mile to five miles, including the NCU (Manchester) quarter mile championship. The organisers noted that the "The cycle track has been altered to suit the requirements of the NCU."

This 1904 video of football at Burden Park shows the track in the background.

The Burnden Park track was removed in 1905 to provide extra seating for football matches and this was the end of bicycle racing there. The Athletic News of June 30th 1913 laments on the passing of cycle tracks "Some seasons ago the track at Burnden Park was blown up to provide better accommodation for the ‘footer' matches."

Bolton Wanderers stayed at Burnden Park until 1997, when they moved to a new, out of town, stadium at Horwich, currently called the University of Bolton Stadium. The Burnden Park site fell into disrepair and an Asda superstore opened on the site in 2005.

Burnden Park was used for some filming in ‘A kind of loving' an Alan Bates film and was the subject of LS Lowry's painting ‘Going to the match'.

* McQuone‘s patent cement was introduced at the Stanley Show in 1894 and was "guaranteed to be better safer and faster than either wood or cement." It does not seem to have lasted long as Cycling magazine in the March 21st 1896 issue commented on the Wood Green track "the defects in the banking have been made good and a cement face substituted for McQuone‘s composition."


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Photos : Lion of Vienna Suite, British Film Archive free player