Scunthorpe - Show Ground

Doncaster Road : DN15 7DE Scunthorpe - Show Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland
Bicycle racing at Scunthorpe has a history spanning the last 120 years. The first racing was on the Show Ground on a grass track, 5 laps to the mile and ‘well banked'. The first bicycle race was on July 12th 1900 and the events were half, one and two miles handicap races, which took place ‘before a very large attendance.'

The first Scunthorpe Agricultural Society show and gala was held on July 13th 1892. The meeting included a two miles bicycle handicap race run in three heats. The event included a go-as-you-please smoking church warden pipe contest.

A new cinder track, was used for the first time for the sports of July 15th 1893. Bicycle races dominated the meeting, with six races from one to three miles. 4,000 to 5,000 spectators. The banked track measured 5 laps to the mile and was 20 feet wide. The track was owned by Mr Swaby* and was about half a mile from the station. The cinder track was probably on the Show Ground.

At the annual dinner of the Scunthorpe Agricultural Society on March 28th 1894, it was agreed to "considerably improve the cinder track for cyclists." The Lincolnshire Echo of April 17th 1894 reported "Unfortunately the stand was blown down during recent gales. But Mr Swaby, a true friend to cyclists, who owns the field and rents it to the club for the merely nominal figure of £10, is having the stand re-erected, the track properly banked and rolled and everything put in form." The members of the club (the Frodingham and Scunthorpe CC) each pay four shilling a year for use of the track. In June 1895 the corners of the cinder track were banked.

For the next fifty years or more, bicycle racing took place on the cinder track on the Show Ground. The Scunthorpe Agricultural Society show became tremendously popular and held annual sports in connection with the show.

The first championship meeting of the Scunthorpe Amateur Cycling Association was held on September 28th 1895 at the cinder track banked on Occupation Lane. These meetings continued through the 1890's. At the August 14th 1897 meeting there were five bicycle races which included the NCU Lincolnshire Centre 1 mile championship. The number of entries was high, but the attendance was disappointingly low.

For the June 14th 1899 Scunthorpe ACA meeting, the cinder was reported to have been ‘greatly improved'. The Agricultural show of July 6th 1899 attracted a crowd of 7,000 people and all the sports on the cinder track were bicycles events.

In the early 1900's there is some confusion because some races were reported to have been held on a grass track and some on cinder. The Lincolnshire Echo of June 4th 1901 reported that there was a "new Scunthorpe grass track, on which sports are shortly to be held...it slopes down to the inside at the corners."

By the 1910's, Charity sports started to be held on the Old Show Ground, and at the July 26th 1913 event, bicycle racing was on a ‘specially prepared cinder track'. The races included the 5 miles NCU Championship of Lincolnshire.

Scunthorpe United bought the Old Show Ground for £2,980 in 1919 and athletics meetings started to be held at the football ground. On June 5th 1922 Scunthorpe and Lindsey United FC held their first annual sports on the old Show Ground cinder track, there were four cycle races including the half mile championships of Lincolnshire NCU Centre.

From the 1920's the Agricultural Society annual sports were held on the cinder track at Doncaster Road football ground.

In 1949 the Scunthorpe Agricultural Show Ground was opened as a park. The Scunthorpe Agricultural Show sports was held on their extended show ground on July 20-22nd 1950 in front of 8,000 people. There were two cycling events, an open half mile race and a novices half mile race. Scunthorpe Polytechnic held a race meeting on August 4th 1951 which included athletics and three cycle races.

Bicycle racing at the Show Ground (which became known as the Old Show Ground) stopped after the facilities at Quibell Park opened.

Scunthorpe United left the Old Show Ground in 1987 and moved to their newly constructed ground at Glandford Park. The site was sold for £2.3M to Safeway, who built a supermarket, which later became a Morrisons then a Sainsbury's store.

* Robert Ingham Swaby ran the Blue Bell pub in Scunthorpe from 1864 until his death in 1915. He was well known for holding the Order of Foresters annual feast at the Blue Bell.


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