Manchester - Abbey Hey Park
Abbey Hey Lane : M18 8SU
Manchester - Abbey Hey Park : Map credit historic maps Abbey Hey Park was used as a trotting track* from around 1876, when crowds of 1,000 people would watch trotting matches for £100 a side. The cinder track was 873 yards in circumference. As well as trotting, the track was used for pedestrian racing, wrestling, boxing, rabbit coursing, sparrow shooting and dog racing. By 1877 Abbey Hey Park had become the leading trotting track in the area, taking over from the Royal Oak Park.

The Fairfield Bicycle Club held their first race meeting on the Abbey Hey track on June 28th 1879 at which there were two club handicap races, over one and ten miles. There was a lull in bicycle racing at Abbey Hey, until 1883.

The Athletic News of April 11th 1883 carried the following advertisement "Abbey Hey Park, Gorton, Horse v Bicycle for £100. Mr John Keen (Champion Bicyclist of the world) has matched himself against any horse Mr JW Raymer can find to either ride or drive for five miles, stand or start, for £50 a side on Saturday next, April 14th.

The Athletic News of April 25th 1883 advertising a "Grand Gala and Amateur Athletics Festival to be held Saturday May 5, 1883 (under Northern Counties AA rules)." As well as running and boxing, the program included a "One mile Bicycle Handicap (for amateurs who have never won a first prize." The track was described as "a splendid cinder track, half a mile in circumference." The results report of the meeting at "well known" Abbey Hey ground described that the athletics and bicycle racing had attracted a crowd of several hundred spectators. "The track was in pretty good condition...and the proprietor had it well rolled in the morning, it yielded good going." There were 36 entries for the one mile maiden bicycle handicap race which ran to four heats and a final and in the one mile open handicap there were 3 heats and final.

The Athletics Festival was held again on May 17th 1884 and included a one mile bicycle handicap race. Bradford (Manchester) Harriers held their first athletic sports on May 23rd 1885 but without bicycle races. The Good Friday 1886 sports meeting at Abbey Hey Park had a two miles bicycle handicap race for a silver watch, valued at three guineas, the other sports included were a six a side football contest, foot racing and a fishing competition.

On June 9th 1888 there was a 1½ miles bicycle handicap race for workmen only for a silver watch, second prize was a ‘Real Meerschaum pipe in case'. This was probably the last bicycle race at Abbey Hey Park.

Trotting races seemed to lose their popularity and by 1892 all sporting activity at Abbey Hey Park seemed to have stopped. The Abbey Hey grounds were developed for terraced housing around 1900, in the area that is now Jetson Street and Vine Street.

*Trotting is described by as:

"a horse race in which the horse does not carry the jockey but pulls him in a light-weight two-wheeled cart, known as the sulky. The horse trots naturally, moving its legs in diagonal pairs - i.e. left front leg and right hind leg forward at the same time and vice versa. If a horse breaks its stride during the race it is immediately disqualified, making the trotting and pacing races not only a test of physical endurance but also of mental strength."

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