London - Queen of England Grounds

320 Goldhawk Road : W6 0XF London - Queen of England Grounds : Map credit National Library of Scotland London - Queen of England Grounds : Image credit pubhistory.com
The Queen's Grounds started promoting bicycle racing in 1869, their first bicycle race was included in a "Grand Assault of Arms" event by the 1st Life Guards on July 5th. The race was advertised in the West London Observer as "A bicycle race for a chased cup, upon Wilson's Patent bicycles." Admission to the event was one shilling.

The Queen's Grounds advertised their 1870 Whit Monday Sports in the West London Observer, the sports included athletics and bicycle racing. The event included a "grand concert...artistes from the Alhambra...dancing on the lawn."

The Sporting Life of September 23rd 1874 reported that the Queen's Grounds had laid down a track 616 yards in circumference and was in splendid order. They commented "These grounds are the best for bicycle racing; there are no corners, but merely bends." The first use of the track was for a series of 120 yards handicap running races, promoted by Henry Berry, the Queen's landlord.

The Manchester Sporting Chronicle of October 28th 1874 reports on a race which was held two days earlier, for a Ten Mile Challenge Cup, valued at £25, offered by Henry Berry. The race involved three men, David Stanton, Arthur Markham and J Stassen (a bicycle maker), Stanton was the firm favourite at 20 to 1 on. "The course - a cinder path - was rather heavy going. Between 500 and 600 people were present." Stanton led from the start, Markham gave up after ten laps and Stassen retired after twenty three laps, leaving Stanton to win easily.

On November 24th 1874, John Stanton rode a two miles race against a draft pony. The race was watched by 1,000 people and the two miles distance needed about 5½ laps. The pony won easily in 6m 38s, but Stanton's time of 7m 50s was believed to be the best two miles time ever recorded.

Man against horse races seemed to be held frequently at the Queen's ground, even in cold and frosty conditions. On December 29th 1874 John Keen raced Henry Berry's cob Flying Comet. The track for these man vs horse events was divided by a rope and stakes, one competitor taking the inside track and the other the outside. To make up the distance, the outside competitor was given a start. For winter races, when the ground was hard, the track was ashed and salted if it was freezing.

John Keen was in a match against the horse Black Bess on January 2nd 1875, run over 8 miles, for £50. The pony was to trot and Keen to ride his bicycle. At first, Keen gained slightly, then after three laps, he "had the misfortune to lose the right treadle of his bicycle and for the remainder of the distance had only the pin of the treadle to ride with." Keen then lost ground, but pulled it back and went in front after twenty laps, after which the mare was pulled up. Keen won the race in 28m 12s. "Betting ranged from evens to 6 to 4 on Keen. After the races in 1874 and 1875, there are no reports of further bicycle racing at Queen's Ground.

The Queen of England pub was re-built in 1928 and was re-named as the Duchess of Cambridge in 2014.


Refs     : [p]
Photos : pubhistory.com
Maps    : National Library of Scotland