Exeter - St James Field

St James Road : EX4 6PX Exeter - St James Field : Map credit National Library of Scotland Exeter - St James Field : Image credit Paul Farley FB Exeter Memories
St James' Field was an open area next to St James' church and school which was used for travelling shows, public meetings and animal grazing. By the 1880's sports were played on the ground including cricket, rugby and later, football and athletics.

The first bicycle racing there was the Exeter Roving CC and the Exeter Cadets' CC joint meeting on August 19th 1893. There were 1, 2 and 3 miles bicycle handicap races, a Cadets' CC 1 mile handicap and a 2 miles scratch race for the championship of the Rovers' CC. The meeting concluded with a team race and an inter-club race. St James' Field was used infrequently in the 1890's for bicycle races as most bicycle meetings in Exeter at this time were at the County Ground or Polsloe Park.

A football club called St Sidwell's United leased the field in 1903, the club later changed their name to Exeter City FC and the ground became known as St James Park. The Exeter City FC turned professional in 1908 and developed the ground to hold 15,000 spectators.

Exeter City Football and Athletic Club held their first annual athletics meeting on August 19th 1910 at St James Park and included one and three miles handicap races. These meeting continued up to the First World War.

In the 1920's Exeter City Football Supporters Club organised top class annual athletics and cycling meetings at St James Park. At the August 19th 1922 event, there were three bicycle races, open handicap events over half and one mile and the two miles NCU Devon and Cornwall Centre Championship. The top riders from Devon and Cornwall competed and there were 4,500 spectators.

After an interval of many years, the sports were resumed by Exeter City Athletic Club in the 1930's and the sports ran until the outbreak of the Second World War.

Exeter City FC, known as the Grecians, ran into financial difficulties in 1994 and ownership of the ground passed to Exeter City Council. The ground is now leased from the Council by the Exeter City Supporters' Club and Exeter City FC still play professional football at St James Park.


Refs     : [544] [p]
Photos : Paul Farley FB Exeter Memories
Maps    : National Library of Scotland