Newcastle upon Tyne - Cowgate

McKendrick Villas : NE5 3AB Newcastle upon Tyne - Cowgate : Map credit National Library of Scotland
The track at Newcastle Co-operative Welfare sports ground was popularly known as Cowgate. The track was owned by the CWS (the Co-op) and was ash, 4 laps to the mile and banked. The track was used intermittently both for a few open meetings and by the North East track racing league.

The first bicycle racing at Cowgate was probably the Elswick Harriers running and cycling sports meeting on Wednesday July 26th 1939. There was a gate of 7,000 people, drawn mainly by the top class mile running race. The cycling events were; 550 yards handicap, ¾ mile handicap and 5 miles invitation scratch race.

The number of entries for track racing at Cowgate in 1939 was very low and the bicycle events in the CWS July sports that year were cancelled.

Before the Second World War, the North East track racing league was held on the Monkton track at Jarrow. After the war, ‘a great number of difficulties' prevented the Monkton track being used, so the Newcastle Co-operative Welfare Committee were approached and the Cowgate track was eventually used for the track league.

The Shields Daily News of Nov 24th 1948 reported on efforts to run a track league at Cowgate. "It is proposed to hold 10 meetings on alternate Thursdays, starting on May 19th. The track will also be available for training on three nights a week, but riders will need a training permit which, however, will be readily granted. Newcastle Centre is to ask NCU Headquarters for a grant towards the cost of making a start. The NCU Centre sports last year were a failure financially, but it is felt that this was offset by the good entry from many parts of the country and the general goodwill achieved."

The initiative resulted in the track league starting racing at Cowgate on May 12th 1949, with 60 riders competing. It was reported that, because of the dry weather, the ash track could not be used and the racing was on grass. The series included an NCU (Newcastle Centre) championship.

Track racing at Cowgate seemed to be intermittent and in 1952, track racing at Newcastle was again struggling. The Evening News reported that racing at Brough Park was abruptly terminated because of lack of support and speculated that the Cowgate track and the Jarvis track at Jarrow may be available in 1954. It seems that Cowgate was not used for any more bicycle racing.

Most of the sports field at Cowgate still exists and is run by Cowgate Sports Club. The Pavilion Court care home has been built over part of the old track.


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