Bradford - Saltaire Park

Coach Road : BD17 7LU Bradford - Saltaire Park : Map credit National Library of Scotland
Saltaire Park was built by Sir Titus Salt who operated Saltaire Mill. Salt built a village for his workers, which is now the Saltaire World Heritage site. Saltaire Park, on the banks of the River Aire, was opened on July 25th 1871, the park was known informally as The People's Park.

Before the park opened, there was bicycle racing from 1869 in the same area as the Park. The Saltaire Horticultural Society held its annual exhibition on 21st Aug 1869 "in a field on the banks of the Aire, behind Saltaire Mill" on the Basildon side of the River Aire. In very good weather 6,000 people attended but the ground was described as "exceedingly rough". The horse jumping events interfered with the bicycle races and only two bicycles could race at a time. "Some amusement was created by a series of tumbles that took place caused by the unevenness of the ground". There was only one bicycle race with 9 riders, which was won by T Smith from Otley whose prize was 25 shillings.

The Bradford Bicycle Club held its first annual sports in Saltaire Park on May 18th 1878. The bicycle club events were; a 1 mile scratch and 5 miles handicap races, and the open events were 1 and 3 miles handicap and 4 miles scratch races. The Bradford Bicycle Club held its 2nd annual sports in Saltaire Park on May 31st 1879. Bradford Grammar School held its sports at Saltaire Park on July 6th 1881 which included a bicycle race and this became an annual event,

The Shipley Friendly and Trade Societies held their annual sports at Saltaire Park from 1885 until the First World War. Entries were very high for the July 4th 1896 event, 39 for the one mile bicycle race and 38 for the half mile, the local rider R Spafford won the one mile in 2 min 29.4 sec. There was a procession to the park and a fete, with entertainment, dancing and fireworks in the evening.

The Saltaire Exhibition took place in June 1887 and a bicycle race meeting was held on the cricket field at Saltaire Park on a grass track, 5 laps to the mile. The two bicycle handicap events, over one and five miles were both won by Straiton off scratch.

Saltaire Cycling Club was formed in 1889, they attended the Harrogate annual cyclist's meet in 1890 and won 1st prize for the club with the largest number of members riding in full uniform in the procession, they had 41 members in uniform. In 1892, the Saltaire CC started holding mid-week club races at the park and from 1893 they held mid-week open events with crowds of around 3,000 people. The series of evening races remained very popular and ran until the early 1900's.

The Saltaire CC held their 7th annual sports on June 6th 1899, the races were half and one mile open handicap and one mile novices handicap. Mrs Titus Salt of Milner Field, presented the prizes. It seemed the practice to publicly display the prizes for sports events and Saltaire CC's prizes, along with others, were displayed at Fattorini's the jewellers in Bradford.

The Shipley Friendly Societies' carnival in July 1914 was probably the last time that bicycle racing took place at Saltaire Park.


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