Kettering - North Park
Bath Road : NN16 9JT
Kettering - North Park : Image credit Northamptonshire Past and Present - Ian Addis Kettering - North Park : Image credit Northamptonshire Past and Present - Ian Addis William Cattell was a prominent Kettering sportsman who had played for Kettering Football Club. Cattell bought the 10 acre Moors Rood meadow in 1891 and turned it into a sports ground, where he laid down a banked cinder track, measuring four laps to the mile. Kettering Amateur Cyclists' Club were attracted by the cinder track and moved their meetings from the town cricket club to North Park. Kettering Football Club, Cattell's old team, also played at North Park and the park hosted cricket and bowls matches.

The North Park cinder track opened on May 30th 1891 with a meeting organised by Kettering ACC, the event was postponed from Whit Monday, which meant that, unfortunately, the top riders outside the area did not put in an appearance. In spite of this there was an attendance of 3,000 and the weather was beautiful. The bicycle events were club half and one mile handicaps and a one mile novices handicap, the only open event was a two miles handicap race. Local man W Wright dominated the meeting winning all but the novices event. The other main events in the opening year of the track were the July 7th meeting on Feast** Tuesday and the August Bank Holiday meeting.

For the next few years, the Feast and the August meetings were annual features and the athletic sports were incorporated into the Kettering and District Horticultural Show. For the August sports, a 25 guinea silver cup was donated for the winner of the two miles scratch race. Other organisations such as The Working Men's Cycling Club, Kettering Trades Council and the Church Institute Cycling and Harrier Clubs also had sports meetings at the park, with bicycle races.

Mr Cattell organised a Grand Fete and Gala on Whit Monday 1893 and invited bicycle clubs in the county to participate in a cycle parade. There were prizes for clubs with the most members on parade, clubs with the smartest turnout and the bugler giving the best cycling calls. The special novelty event was a double parachute descent by Captain Orton and Mlle Bassett, who would ascend to 10,000 feet in a balloon and leap out. Unfortunately, the balloon was ripped whilst it was being filled with gas and the spectacle was postponed until the following Wednesday, when it was carried of without a hitch and in front of an appreciative crowd.

The NCU (Northampton Centre) 25 miles track Championship was held at North Park on September 26th 1896, the event was organised by Kettering ACC and their rider Strickland won the championship.

The first Kettering Hospital sports was held on May 9th 1896, after the laying of the hospital memorial stones at North Park. The bicycle events were the usual half and one mile handicap and five miles scratch race. The hospital sports continued for the next five years. Bicycle racing at North Park declined in popularity during the late 1890s.

The Kettering Hospital Sports were held on August 15th 1900, at which there were four bicycle races. The main event was the five miles scratch race, won by AJ Howell and as he had won the trophy twice before, became the owner of it. This was probably the last bicycle racing to be held at North Park.

Cattell sold the park in 1900 to HF Henson, who continued running sporting events there. In 1908 the Co-operative Society purchased North Park for £2,000. North Park now is owned by Kettering Borough Council and is still used for football.

** Like many towns and villages, Kettering had a fest day which was a local holiday, when a travelling fair would usually visit the town. Kettering Feast is held in late June/early July.

Kettering - North Park : Image credit Northamptonshire Past and Present - Ian Addis
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Photos : Northamptonshire Past and Present - Ian Addis