Stoke on Trent - Finney Gardens
Hanley Bucknall : ST1 6AJ
Stoke on Trent - Finney Gardens : Map credit National Library of Scotland Stoke on Trent - Finney Gardens : Image credit Stoke on Trent Live Finney Gardens was run as a market garden in the 1850's by Theophilus Cartlidge and by 1870, the gardens had evolved into a pleasure garden and sporting venue. Various sports such as pony racing, foot and pedestrian races, football, cricket and sparrow and pigeon-shooting were held there.

An athletics sports meeting was held in 1875 with foot races, and a bicycle race was advertised but there were no competitors. At the Hanley Cricket Club match on August 31st 1876, it was announced that "Mons. Otto will ride a bicycle against any amateurs of the Potteries for a valuable prize."

The first bicycle race in the gardens was at the Foresters 8th annual fete and gala on Whit Monday 1877, which included a 2 miles bicycle handicap race, the first prize was a china tea service and there were four riders in the event. There was another one mile bicycle race there the following year, on July 29th.

A new track was laid in 1881 and The Staffordshire Sentinel of October 18th 1881 reported "The track of the new cinder path is laid on tolerably even ground. The surface is of red mine ash." The first meeting on the new track was on October 15th 1881 with a two miles open handicap race. Entries were good, 5 heats were required. Then followed an inter-club match between Victoria Athletic BC and N Staffordshire BC with a series of one mile races. After the match, the teams sat down "to a cold collation, provided in the refreshment rooms."

Finney Gardens never really took off as a bicycle racing venue, there were occasional events in the 1880's but other sports such as football, cricket and running enjoyed more support. The last bicycle race at the gardens was probably the Whit Monday 1887 sports, which included one and three miles open handicap bicycle races.

In 1890 the 15 acre Finney Gardens was put up for sale. After this, the grounds seemed to have laid derelict for many years until 1922 when they re-opened as the Stoke on Trent Constabulary Sports Club. The Co-op sports and local school sports were held at the ground in the 1930's.

The Staffordshire Advertiser of February 14th 1942 carried an advertisement "To be Let, with immediate possession, the well-known Gardens and Pleasure Grounds, comprising about 15 acres with bowling green, race and bicycle track, football and cricket ground, convenience for boating etc. The gardens recently been greatly improved and three greenhouses erected, the whole being in good order."

Little was heard of the gardens until the site was developed for housing around the area now known as Westacre and there is a pub there called the New Finney Gardens.

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Photos : Stoke on Trent Live
Maps    : National Library of Scotland