Isle of Man - Belle Vue Grounds - Douglas

Groves Road : IM2 1RB Isle of Man - Belle Vue Grounds - Douglas : Image credit Wiki Commons
Belle Vue was a pleasure ground which was set up around 1888 by JW Johnson. Belle Vue was used for football and had a quarter mile bicycle track. The Douglas Football Club held their first Athletic Sports meeting on June 12th 1889. The bicycle events were; one mile handicap race for local riders, one mile and two miles open handicap races. The club stated that it was their intention to hold sports at regular intervals - probably monthly - throughout the season. The August 26th 1889 meeting included a half mile scratch race for the championship of the Island.

The Athletic News of August 4th 1890 reported that the Douglas Harriers were running weekly sports up to September with the venue alternating between Belle Vue and Falcon Cliff. The sports drew a crowd of 2,000 spectators to watch the running and 1 and 3 miles bicycle handicap races.

The Isle of Man International Exhibition was held at Belle Vue in 1892 and a cycling meeting was held at Belle Vue on August 16th with four bicycle events including a 2 miles scratch race for a 50 guinea Challenge Cup.

The Isle of Man attracted lots of holiday makers and each summer through the 1890's, several organisations ran sports meetings which included running and bicycle races. The organisers were Douglas Harriers, Mona Football Club and Wanderer's FC. Large crowds of up to 8,000 attended the race meetings with good quality riders from England, Scotland and Ireland.

The Isle of Man Cycling and Athletics Club, who had organised sports at Falcon Cliff, moved to Belle Vue in 1900 and ran meetings with the usual program of running and bicycle races.

The Isle of Man Times of August 25th 1900 carried a lengthy story explaining that the Isle of Man C&AC had pulled out of bicycle racing because of race fixing. They commented "The races are fought in the dressing tent, and the order of the finish arranged there - and money placed on the quiet with book-makers to suit this grossly dishonest arrangement." This seems to have been the end of bicycle racing at Belle Vue.

Belle Vue opened as a horse racing course in 1912 and closed in 1931 when on course betting was made illegal. It is now the location of the Manx National Sports Centre and King George V Park.


Refs     : [p]
Photos : Wiki Commons