Norwich - East Dereham Recreation Ground

London Road : NR19 1AE Norwich - East Dereham Recreation Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland
There were four locations in East Dereham where bicycle racing was held. The first bicycle races in East Dereham were at Quebec Hall in 1877 and racing continued there until 1896. The East Dereham Recreation ground opened in 1895 with a cinder track, and bicycle racing was held there until 1907. The ground at Neatherd Road held occasional race meetings with the East Dereham Cycling Club from 1895 to 1910. The Norwich Road Cricket Ground held bicycle races for a few years between 1907 and 1911 and in 1910 sports were held on the Avenue Grounds, South Green.

The Recreation Ground was opened in 1895 and was privately owned by Mr JH Skinner. There were football tennis and running facilities and there was a cinder track four laps to the mile. The Recreation Ground was also used for the Norfolk Agricultural Show.

The first bicycle races on the new Recreation Ground were the East Dereham Athletic Association sports on August Bank Holiday 1895. The Dereham Cycling Club held a club one mile handicap race and the open events were one and two miles handicap races. The following year's sports attracted a crowd of 2,000.

There were problems about the use of the Recreation Ground and the rents charged to several sports in 1897. In 1898, the East Dereham Cycling Club agreed to rent the ground for £15 per annum and to keep the cinder track in order.

The East Dereham Athletic Association held their 1899 August Bank Holiday annual sports there and the handicap bicycle races were; the East Dereham CC mile 1 mile race, a boys u16 half mile race and one and two miles open races. The meeting also hosted the NCU 5 miles regional championship. The August Bank Holiday sports meetings continued through the 1900's with good support, in 1903 there were 6,000 spectators.

In 1903 there were rumours that the ground would be sold for industrial development. The leases to use the ground for the various sports club for the ground ran out. In spite of this, the Athletic Association sports continued to be run on the ground.

Athletic Association 12th annual sports were held on August Bank Holiday 1907 on the Recreation Ground. The bicycle events were 1, 2 and 3 miles races and a 1 mile local mile novices race. This was probably the last year that bicycle racing was held on the Recreation Ground. The following year, the Athletic Association sports had moved to the new Norwich Road cricket ground.

The Recreation Ground is now East Dereham Skate Park.


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