Chelmsford - Hoffmann's Sports Ground

Rainsford Road : CM1 2XN
The Hoffmann Manufacturing Company was a world famous precision ball bearing manufacturer. The factory once employed 7500 employees and extended over 50 acres.

Hoffmann formed an Athletic Club in 1907; the club had football, cricket and tennis teams. Hoffmann purchased a new eight acre ground at Rainsford Road in 1919 and provided a grandstand and bench seating for 1,000 people. The running and cycling events took place on a grass track, 4 laps to the mile.

The first Athletic Club meeting at the new ground was in July 1919 and bicycle racing was not included. At the following year's sports, the only bicycle event was a ‘Comic bicycle race' where competitors had to walk half a lap, put on a comic costume, cycle a lap and finally run half a lap.

Hoffmann's hosted the Chelmsford United Works Sports* for the first time in 1924 and the bicycle races were half and one mile handicap races as usual. After the sports, in the evening, there was a fete, boxing tournament, dancing, a minstrel troupe and side shows.

The Hoffmann Athletic and Social Club held a mid-week sports evening on August 19th 1925 and included half and one mile bicycle handicap races. The attendance was 1,500 and the most popular event was the ‘combination race' where competitors had to walk half a lap, then run half a lap and then push their bicycles backwards for half a lap.

Hoffmann's hosted the Chelmsford United Works Sport every three years until 1935. They hosted a special wartime meeting of the sports in 1944 with Servicemen as guests. This was the last time that bicycle races were run on the Rainsford Road ground.

* The Chelmsford United Works Sports was the name given to the sports meetings for the works employees of the major companies in Chelmsford. The original companies were Marconi, Hoffmann, Arc Works, National Steam Car and Christy's and they held annual sports from around 1909. The venues for the sports rotated between the sports grounds of the three companies. Arc Works became Crompton's, the National Steam Car Company fell victim to petrol engines and Christy's was too small. By 1913, the participating firms were Crompton's (Wood Street ground), Hoffmann (Rainsford Road ground) and Marconi (Waterhouse Lane ground).

The sports were held annually on Whit Monday and the meetings generally consisted of running races and ½ and 1 mile bicycle handicap races. In most years, there were open and works races but in some years (eg 1933) the events were works only, restricted to employees of the three companies. Attendance at the sports was high; in 1925 there were 5,000 spectators. The sports were followed in the evening by a fete and entertainments. The sports donated the nett proceeds to charities like the Chelmsford Hospital and Chelmsford YWCA.


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