Barnsley - Wath Athletic Ground

Moor Road : S63 7RS Barnsley - Wath Athletic Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland Barnsley - Wath Athletic Ground : Image credit Wath Cricket Club
Wath Athletic Ground opened in 1899 and was the home of Wath Athletic Club, who organised athletics, bicycle racing, football and cricket events. A banked cinder track, three laps to the mile was built for cycling and a grass track for running. There was a large and imposing pavilion and a smart telegraph board.**

The first bicycle racing at the ground was a series of evening race meetings in 1900, organised by the cycling section of Wath Athletic Club. The first evening meeting had an attendance of over 1,000 and nearly £30 was taken at the gate. There were ten bicycle races and 154 entries, the races were ½ and 1 mile club handicap, ½ and 1 and 5 miles open handicap. At a later evening meeting that year, the NCU District one mile championship race was included.

The 9th Wath Athletic Festival was held on July 12th 1900 at the ground and included four bicycle races. Mr WH Hurst, a champion trick cyclist known as ‘King of the Wheel', gave performances through the day. The very popular annual Wath Sports meeting was held in late September and included two bicycle races.

The evening bicycle race series became an annual event and gained in popularity, the Wath Athletic Club Sports and the Wath Sports, were also held each year. At the 1911 Whit Monday sports, there was a record crowd of 6,000 to watch a variety of running and cycling events, which included the NCU local quarter mile championship and the five miles Harry Whitworth Cup, scratch race.

Cycle racing at the ground continued until the Whit Monday 1927 Wath Sports, which had an interesting program of races including the local NCU half mile championship and the two miles National Pursuit second round. The attendance at the event was quite poor and after this, cycle sports meetings at the ground stopped for three years.

In 1930, local cycle clubs showed interest in bringing the Wath track back into use. The Wath Athletic Club reported that there were only three members in their Cycling Section, but if 40 other local club members could be found to pay the 5 shillings subscription to use the track and facilities, then they would get the track back into good order.

Later in the year, riders from Wath RC, Wombwell Wheelers, Mexborough Wheelers and Goldthorpe Clarion supported the Cycling and Harriers section of Wath Athletic Club and cycle racing was one again seen at on the track. Wath Athletic Club organised an evening meeting on August 29th 1930, which included several cycle races. The Wath Sports were revived on August 3rd 1931 and included a 2 miles pursuit, 800 yards women's race and a 5 miles scratch race. The South Yorkshire Times reported "Unfortunately, there was a number of spills in the cycling events, and the ambulance men were kept busy." There were around 1,000 spectators, but this was probably the last bicycle racing to be held at the Wath ground.

Wath Athletic Ground is still the home of Wath upon Dearne Cricket Club.

** A telegraph board was a large results board, often having more than one side, on which race details and results were displayed to the crowd. It was a bit like a cricket scoreboard.

Barnsley - Wath Athletic Ground : Image credit Rotherham Advertiser
Refs     : [p]
Photos : Wath Cricket Club, Rotherham Advertiser
Maps    : National Library of Scotland