Luton - Wardown Park
New Bedford Road : LU3 1LF
Luton - Wardown Park : Map credit National Library of Scotland Luton - Wardown Park : Image credit Neil Gordon-Orr The park was originally a house called Bramingham Shott that had pleasure grounds, a park and a cricket field. It was renamed Wardown House in 1897 and sold in 1904 to Luton Town Council for £17,000 who turned the estate into an eleven acre public park.

Luton cyclists, obviously annoyed that Luton had no cinder track, petitioned Luton Town Council in 1906 to provide a track around the cricket pitch at Wardown Park. Their request was rejected.

Luton United Harriers and Cycling Club obtained permission to use the cricket ground at the park in 1913 for a sports day and gala. There are reports of an athletics track at Stockingstone Field in the NW corner of Wardown Park.

Luton United Harriers held an open sports meeting at Wardown in the 1920's, by which time a permanent grass track had been set up. The July 12th 1924 meeting included ½ and 1 mile handicap bicycle races and a 3 miles scratch race. The course was a 440 yards grass track.

The Midland Counties Amateur Athletics Association held its Championships and Cycle Races at Wardown on 23rd June 1928.

The Luton Borough Police held their annual sports at Wardown in the 1930's. The cycling events in 1932 were the ¼ mile NCU (Northampton) championship, ½ mile and 3 miles scratch races. Charlie Cole the well-known Luton Wheelers rider won the NCU championship race and the three miles scratch race.

Wardown Park is still in use and has facilities for cricket, tennis and football. The park was restored in 2005 with a million pounds worth of Lottery funding.

--- Luton bicycle racing venues ---

> Dallow Lane. 1887 - 1897

> Bury Park 1897 - 1905

> Wardown Park. 1913 - 1935

> People's Park. 1905 - 1910

> Vauxhall Motors Sports Ground at Park Street hosted sports meetings in the early 1930's which included grass track cycle races and in 1939, G Valentine won the ½ mile event. The 1953 sports at the new ground drew a crowd of 6,000. The sports, including cycle races, were held up to the 1980's.

> Putteridge Bury was used for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897. A sports event was held in the grounds of Putteridge Bury country house (LU2 8UL) and the grass track bicycle events included 1 and 3 miles handicap races. The house is now the University of Bedfordshire conference centre.

> Leagrave village, now a suburb of Luton, had bicycle races on grass at the Leagrave Annual Show.

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Photos : Neil Gordon-Orr
Maps    : National Library of Scotland