Brighton - Preston Park

Preston Drove : BN1 6LA Brighton - Preston Park : Map credit Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps Brighton - Preston Park : Image credit My Brighton and Hove
Preston Park Velodrome is the oldest cycle track in the country, it was opened on 12th May 1877. The track is the longest in the UK at 579m and of irregular shape with four straights and two slightly banked corners. The track and bankings were dug out by hand by the British army.

The flat cinder track was formally opened at a Whit Monday race meeting on 30 May 1887 with races including a 1 mile handicap, 3 mile handicap, half-mile scratch and a 1 mile tricycle handicap, with a 2 shilling entry fee and prizes of up to £7 for first places. Herbert Synyer won the Preston Shield at the Preston Park sports in 1887. Brighton Excelsior Bicycle Club held their club championship in 1889.

In the 1900's meetings at Preston Park were regularly held on Easter Monday and August Bank holiday drawing crowds of around 3,000. The Brighton Cyclist Club held an August Bank holiday meet in 1904, the bicycle races were; 1 mile scratch for the championship of Sussex, ½ and 1 mile open handicap races and 5 miles open scratch race.

The Brighton Gazette of April 4th 1907 comments on the track "one of the most dangerous tracks on the South coast. Of course it's faults lie in the fact that it is not sufficiently banked for anything above 15 miles an hour."

In 1930, a wooden grandstand was built with seating for 500. The track was upgraded in 1936 with a tarmac surface and two corners were banked at the start of the home straight ("Dressing room corner") were upgraded. The track is 10ft wide and the bankings are 10 degrees.

Prestonville Nomads were based at the track from 1948 to 1967 after they re-formed post-war. From 1948 there was the mid-week Sussex Racing League which was very popular as Preston Park was the only hard track in Sussex.

Several big events were held at Preston Park in the 1950's. An International meeting was held on 16th May 1951 featuring Jan Derksen, Syd Patterson, Arie Van Vleit, Reg Harris and Oscar Plattner. The World sprint champion, Reg Harris, raced at the track meet on 4th August 1952 and drew a crowd of 8,000. August bank holiday meetings, organised by Brighton Cyclist Club, Brighton Stanley Wanderers Cycling Club or Brighton Mitre Cycling Club, were held regularly.

By 2015 the track was in disrepair and safety concerns made it unfit for racing. British Cycling and Government funds enabled repairs to be carried out costing £160,000 which meant that the track could reopen in May 2016.

There is a cricket pitch in the track centre which is used by St Peter's Cricket Club.

The velodrome is free to use for individuals and can be hired by clubs or groups. The Sussex Cycle Racing League, which runs from April to August, has remained the mainstay of racing at Preston Park.

The video shows a track meet at Preston Park.

Brighton - Preston Park : Image credit Brighton and Hove City Council Brighton - Preston Park : Image credit Arran Ferguson
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Photos : My Brighton and Hove, Brighton and Hove City Council, Arran Ferguson
Maps    : Old-Maps.co.uk historic maps