Birmingham - Bournville Sports Stadium
Linden Road : B30 1JR
Birmingham - Bournville Sports Stadium : Map credit National Library of Scotland Birmingham - Bournville Sports Stadium : Image credit The Bournville Society Cadburys was started in 1824 in Birmingham by John Cadbury who sold tea, coffee and drinking chocolate, he was later joined by his brother Benjamin. The business moved to a 14½ acre greenfield site in 1879, which they named Bournville after the local river Bourn. Cadbury built a new factory and a model village for the company's workers, the semi-detached housing was surrounded by gardens and open spaces which pioneered the Garden City idea, later taken up in Letchworth, Port Sunlight, Welwyn and other locations. In 1893, Cadbury bought a further 120 acres of land and expanded their factory.

By 1906 Cadbury employed 4,000 people at their Bournville site and a 50 acre sports ground was provided for workers. Employees could join the Athletics Club and for a small fee they had access to sports such as football, cricket, hockey, bowling, gymnasium, tennis and swimming. A stunning pavilion costing £3,500 was built in 1902 by Cadbury for sports use. Cycle houses for employees' bicycles were provided and their machines were regularly serviced by mechanics. Other non-sports facilities were provided including a library, reading room and photographic facilities.

Mr Grahame-White flew a plane 100 miles from Hendon to the Bournville athletic ground and landed there on April 17th 1911 to the cheers of thousands of paying spectators.

The first bicycle race at Bournville was on a grass track, probably on the cricket pitch, at the Bournville Athletic Club's sports on July 13th 1901, the event included a three miles bicycle race. The next reported bicycle racing was at the Bournville AC first Annual Sports on July 15th 1911 at which there were half and one mile open handicap races and a three miles club race. The Bournville AC sports, in association with the Midland Counties Athletic and Cycling Club, ran for the next forty years.

The NCU half mile championship was held at the Bournville AC meeting on June 14th 1913. At the following years meeting, Ernie Payne* won the 880 yards scratch. Bicycle racing resumed after the First World War, in 1920 when Albert White of the Rover Racing Club, won the ten miles, 100 guinea BSA Gold Vase. The Bournville AC meeting was the main bicycle racing event of the year, and was very popular through the 1920s with crowds of up to 10,000 people.

At the Bournville on June 4th 1932, there was something of a sensation in the 10 miles race when two virtually unknown riders Charlie Holland and TW Blick went all out from the start and lapped the field. Holland held on to win the BSA gold vase, whilst Denis Horn, the current National champion, Albert White, the ex-National champion and Olympic rider Albert Donnelly all retired.

The 22nd Annual Bournville Sports and took place on May 18th 1940. The event was broadcast on BBC radio, who featured the 500 yards scratch bicycle race and a Birmingham v London bicycle polo match. Later in the year, Tommy Godwin** Rover RCC, Reg Harris Manchester Wheelers and Lou Pond rode in the Lord Mayor's War Relief Fund meeting in front of 4,000 spectators. The Birmingham Mail advised that "Ample air raid shelters available within three minutes of a warning."

The Bournville Sports on May 26th 1951 could ‘only' attract 5,000 spectators. Lutz Durlacher*** won the 500m sprint, Cyril Bardsley, a 19 year old Manchester plumber won the 440 yards handicap and the 500 yards scratch races. Tommy Godwin won the BSA vase outright after three wins in the 10 miles scratch race. At the following years sports, there were 10,000 spectators and in 1954, Maurice Ward of the Polytechnic CC, repeated Tommy Godwin's feat of taking the 10 miles race for the third time and winning the BSA vase outright.

The 1954 Bournville Sports was probably the last bicycle racing at the Bournville recreation Ground. The grass track fell out of favour when the Solihull banked tarmac track opened in 1951. Bournville sports ground is still used for cricket, football and bowls. Cadbury is now owned by Mondelez and Cadburys chocolate is still produced at Bournville.

* Ernie Payne "the Worcester Wonder" won more than 150 races, including a gold medal in the team pursuit at the 1908 Summer Olympics.

** Tommy Godwin was a national track champion and an international rider. At the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, Godwin won two bronze medals, in the team pursuit and the 1,000m time trial. Godwin carried the Olympic torch through Solihull in 2012, aged 91.

*** Lutz Durlacher was a German Jew who came to England under the kinder transport in 1939. His parents were murdered at Auschwitz. He was a very successful track rider and set up a cycle clothing business under the name Lutz.

Birmingham - Bournville Sports Stadium : Image credit Historic England Birmingham - Bournville Sports Stadium : Image credit Wiki Commons Birmingham - Bournville Sports Stadium : Image credit Elaine Hemming Birmingham - Bournville Sports Stadium : Image credit Cycling magazine
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Photos : The Bournville Society, Historic England, Wiki Commons, Elaine Hemming, Cycling magazine
Maps    : National Library of Scotland