Isle of Wight - Shanklin County Ground

Green Lane : PO37 7DD Isle of Wight - Shanklin County Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland
Landguard Manor is a Grade II listed ancient Manor House in Shanklin which had an extensive estate. The Isle of Wight Observer of September 1st 1888 described a proposal to procure a field of 8 acres on the Landguard Estate "to be laid out for cricket and football play, with a bicycle track around it. It is thought that Shanklin is a most central point, and it is proposed to work the ground on the lines of the famous sporting enclosure at Lillie Bridge."

The cricket ground at Landguard was built exactly as described and opened in 1889. It was known as the County Ground soon after it was opened. This however caused some controversy and when Ryde Cricket Club was officially designated as the County Ground in 1891, Shanklin continued to unofficially call the Landguard ground the County Ground.

In August 1889, the 5th IoW Volunteer Battalion sports were held on the County Ground. The bicycle track was 500 yards around and had not, at that time, been covered in cinders. There were three bicycle races 2 and 3 miles handicap and a 3 miles open race.

After 1890, there were Whitsun and August Bank Holiday sports at the County Ground.

The Whitsun sports usually had ½, and 3 miles races and 1 and 10 miles roadster bicycle races. The August Bank Holiday sports promoted bicycle races over 1, 3, 5 and 10 miles and attracted crowds of around 4,000.

The IoW Cycling Club held their sports in September, which included the five miles championship of the Isle of Wight. In 1900, the track was described as cinder, three and a half laps to the mile and banked.

Cycling magazine of May 12th 1894 described the Shanklin track as a white elephant. "It is a great pity that the Shanklin-Sandown cinder track is in such a bad position. It is, unfortunately, in the wrong part of the Isle of Wight; had it been built at Newport it would have paid the proprietors. No sports are arranged for the coming season, and, in fact, it is quite useless where it is."

This proved to be absolutely correct and bicycle racing at the County Ground seems to have stopped after 1893.

Most of the land around Landguard has been developed for housing and for a holiday park. The old cricket pitch and bicycle track area is now used by Shanklin Football Club and is still known as the County Ground. The County Cricket Ground in the IoW is now at Newclose, near Newport.


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