Southampton - Recreation Ground Eastleigh
Dutton Lane : SO50 6AB
Southampton - Recreation Ground Eastleigh : Map credit National Library of Scotland Southampton - Recreation Ground Eastleigh : Image credit Chris Humby Eastleigh Railway Depot was opened in 1891 by the London and South Western Railway Company and the population of Eastleigh grew rapidly. The Railway Company donated £2,000 to Eastleigh Urban District Council in 1898 to purchase the Cricket Field on Leigh Road. The Railway Company also purchased land at the end of Fisherman's Lane (re-named Dutton Lane in honour of Ralph Dutton, the Railway Company chairman), to be used as a recreation ground.

The Recreation Ground was developed and run by the Railway Company, it included facilities for football, cricket, athletics and a banked cinder cycle track. The track was 5 laps to the mile and well banked. When the track was opened, it was ‘somewhat loose and uneven in places.'

The new cycle track was opened with a sports meeting on July 6th 1895. The bicycle events included the one and five miles NCU district championship races, a three laps handicap race for railway employees and 1 and 2 miles open handicap races. The attendance was 1,600. There was another open meeting, organised by Eastleigh Athletic Club, on August 31st 1895. Eastleigh AC held a Wednesday evening race series through the summer of 1896. The Hampshire track league, with eight local clubs, also ran races at Eastleigh.

In early 1897, the Eastleigh track was re-surfaced with asphalt. The first event on the newly surfaced track was the Eastleigh AC Easter Monday meeting. The 2,000 spectators watched the one and three miles open handicap races and a half mile scratch race. The track was gaining popularity with further open meetings in 1897, at Whitsun and in August. The Westwood Park track in Southampton closed in 1897, which made the Eastleigh track more popular.

The Eastleigh Athletic Club sports on August 18th 1900 included the ½ and 25 mile NCU (Southampton) Championships. CB Kingsbury* won the ½ mile championship. It was advertised that Platt-Betts would attempt to break the 1 and 10 miles world record, but unfortunately the motor pacing tandem machine failed and the attempts were abandoned. Local rider FD Frost displayed the Cawardine Cup that he had won. There were 3,000 spectators.

CB Kingsbury won the ½, 1 and 5 miles NCU (Southampton) Championships at the August 23rd 1902 meeting. The Eastleigh track continued to be popular in the 1900's with the Eastleigh AC annual August meetings hosting NCU local championship events.

After 1910, support at the track fell away as the First World War approached and the Eastleigh Athletic Cycling Club annual sports meeting on September 14th 1912 was probably the last bicycle racing on the track. There were twenty events and 300 competitors, the bicycle events were 1 mile scratch race for railway employees, ½, 1 and 2 miles handicap races and a 5 miles club handicap race. The track did not seemed to be used after the war and in the mid-1930's it was reported that the Eastleigh track had not been used for some time.

* Clarence Kingsbury, from Portsmouth, won the gold medal in 1908 Olympics for the 20 km track race and was also a member of the winning British team in the pursuit race. He won a national championship every year from 1907 to 1912, at distances from ¼ mile to 50 miles.

Southampton - Recreation Ground Eastleigh : Image credit Chris Humby Southampton - Recreation Ground Eastleigh : Image credit Eastleigh FC Forum
Refs     : [10] [208] [527] [p]
Photos : Chris Humby, Eastleigh FC Forum
Maps    : National Library of Scotland