Luton - Dallow Lane

Dunstable Road : LU1 1LY Luton - Dallow Lane : Map credit National Library of Scotland
Luton Athletic Society & Cricket Club started leasing Dallow Lane from its owner Mr Deacon in 1873. The ground was also used for football matches from 1880. The first reported bicycle races in Luton were held there on Whit Monday 1887 and were reported in The Luton Reporter of 4th June. The sports were held under the auspices of the Luton Town Cricket Club on a grass track measuring 5 laps to the mile and there were three bicycle events including a 5 miles open handicap race. Luton Town FC played at Dallow Lane between 1885 and 1897.

There was an August Bank Holiday meeting of the Athletic Club in 1888 and the bicycle racing was preceded by a procession of over 300 cyclists who met at Park Square and rode through the town to Dallow Lane. The bicycle events included the 5 miles championship of Dunstable Road Cyclists' League. The Fox public house, next door to Dallow Lane was sometimes used as changing rooms.

By 1890 the ground was upgraded and a stand was built and the Whitsun sports had become established drawing crowds of 3,000. There were three races, all one mile in length; one for ordinaries, one for safeties and one ‘mixed' for any type of machine. In 1891 racing was advertised on grass "as the new cinder track will not be finished by Whit Monday". The 1892 meeting attracted a crowd of 7,000.

The cycling activity of the Athletic Club resulted in a name change in May 1891 to the Luton Athletic and Cycling Club. The cinder track does not seem to have been laid.

Whitsun and August Bank Holiday track meetings at Dallow Lane were very popular events and continued into the late 1890's. The track, at this time, was described as 4¾ laps to the mile with one sharp corner that resulted in some nasty spills.

After 1895, the Luton Cycling Club held their 50 miles club track championship at Clarence Park in St Albans. Maybe the hard track which had just opened at St Albans was attractive for this long event.

Luton Town FC was in financial difficulties in 1897 and sold the Dallow Lane ground and moved to the Dunstable Road ground. Bicycle racing seemed to have moved to Dunstable Road in 1897 along with Luton Town.

--- Luton bicycle racing venues ---

> Dallow Lane. 1887 - 1897

> Bury Park 1897 - 1905

> Wardown Park. 1913 - 1935

> People's Park. 1905 - 1910

> Vauxhall Motors Sports Ground at Park Street hosted sports meetings in the early 1930's which included grass track cycle races and in 1939, G Valentine won the ½ mile event. The 1953 sports at the new ground drew a crowd of 6,000. The sports, including cycle races, were held up to the 1980's.

> Putteridge Bury was used for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897. A sports event was held in the grounds of Putteridge Bury country house (LU2 8UL) and the grass track bicycle events included 1 and 3 miles handicap races. The house is now the University of Bedfordshire conference centre.

> Leagrave village, now a suburb of Luton, had bicycle races on grass at the Leagrave Annual Show.


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