Colchester - Crittall Sports Field Braintree

Crissington Road : CM7 3AL Colchester - Crittall Sports Field Braintree : Map credit National Library of Scotland Colchester - Crittall Sports Field Braintree : Image credit Wiki Commons
Crittall is a metal window frame manufacturer that was based in Braintree. In 1926, Crittall built a model village for their employees at Silver End, the development included a department store, village hall, cinema, library and health clinic. The buildings were innovative, built from concrete, with flat roofs in the International Modern style and using pre-fabrication construction. The village is now a conservation area.

Crittall's promoted sport for their employees with sports clubs and they provided a Sports ground which started life in 1920 as a rough field on Panfield Lane where Crittall's held an annual show. There was a trade show, flower show, fur and feather show and athletics but no bicycle racing. Crittall built a new 17 acre sports ground in 1923 at which a 400 yards cinder track was laid, the only other cinder tracks in Essex at that time were Thornton Field and Ilford.

Bicycle racing was included at the annual sports from 1924 with a three miles handicap bicycle race. The sports drew 300 competitors that year, including Olympic runners and crowd of 4,000. The track was described as the only cinder racing track in Essex. By the next year, bicycle events had found their place with 1 and 3 miles handicap races and a half mile scratch invitation race, won by W Tiffin of Colchester Rovers, the one mile NCU Champion of Essex.

The late 1920's were the golden years at Crittall's sports ground, the 1926 sports saw a record attendance of 8,000 spectators. Fifty three cyclists took part in the ½ and 1 mile handicap and ½ mile scratch races.

The sports in 1930 were reported to be for Crittall employees and their family only and 1,500 spectators watched the events which include two cycle races. Crittall sports days lapsed for several years but were revived in 1936 which included cycle races on a grass track.

The sports ground was used throughout WWII but the popularity of cycle racing diminished. The last bicycle racing at Crittall's seemed to have been the 1950 sports which had three cycle races, all won by W Lane of the Fountain club. At the event, the Trinidad Olympic runner E McDonald Bailey equalled the British 100 yards record with 9.6 sec.

Crittall's factory at Braintree closed in 2008 and production moved to Witham. The Cressington Road sports field is now used for football and is the home of Braintree Town FC.


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