Workington - Cleator Moor

Wath Brow : CA23 3EW Workington - Cleator Moor : Map credit National Library of Scotland
Bicycle races at Cleator Moor were first held on June 15th & 16th 1882 at the 15th Cleator Moor Annual Sports meeting, which was held in a field where they had been held for several years. This was possibly the Recreation Ground on Leconfield Road, near St John's church (CA25 5QA). There were two bicycle events at the sports, a Border Handicap race and a one mile open amateur handicap race. The sports were held for several more years and included bicycle races.

The local bicycle club was known as the ‘Cleator Moor Club' or ‘Border Bicycle Club' and was formed in April 1880 with their HQ Royal Hotel. The club decided to build their own outdoor wooden cycle track at Wath Brow ‘in picturesque grounds on the banks of the Ehen.' It is likely that the wooden track was made in sections and bolted together. The Maryport Advertiser of October 14th 1881 reported that Solway BC were looking at buying a wooden track at their AGM and quoted a committee member "a wooden track made in sections and bolted together would be best for the club...a track of that description, ten laps to the mile, would cost £80 or £90."

The opening of the track on September 20th 1882 was described by the Carlisle Journal "The Cleator Moor Border Bicycle Club held a race meeting on Wednesday, when the new wooden track which they have laid down in a field at High Wath at a cost of nearly £150 was inaugurated. The track measures seven laps to the mile, is 12 feet broad, increasing to 18 feet at the turns." There was a procession of 134 cyclist to the track and the races "were witnessed by a large assembly of spectators, although the weather was cold and windy." The bicycle races were one, three and five miles handicaps, and these three races were all won by R Dover of Carlisle. There was also a four laps boneshaker handicap race.

The Cleator Moor track was built with money lent by club members, but at the start of 1883, around £40 was still outstanding and the club was looking at ways to clear the debt.

The second annual race meeting was held on June 13th 1883 on a beautiful day and over 4,000 people paid for admission. The top event was a five miles professional handicap, which was won by local man G Asbridge of Dearham. The other bicycle events were 1, 2 and 5 miles amateur handicap races. The club had a further open meeting on September 26th 1883, but the weather was really bad, rainy and stormy, the wooden track was slippery ‘and there were a few ugly spills.' World champion George Waller competed in the five miles professional handicap. The meeting still managed to attract around 2,500 spectators.

Cleator Moor BC held their fourth annual race meeting on June 17th 1885, with 91 entries and £90 in prizes, the event was watched by 3,000 people. The bicycle racing events were the usual 1, 3 and 5 miles amateur handicaps and a 5 miles professional race. At the meeting there was an unfortunate spill in the Professional race on the last lap, and all the field went down except Wilkinson, who rode through to win. The Athletic News hinted at criticism of the board track and reported "This, however, the committee intend to remedy, by laying down a new cinder track very soon." Entries to the meeting suffered from the dispute between the NCU and AAA, the meeting being held under Cyclist Union rules.

No bicycle cinder track appeared and the 1885 Cleator Moor Border BC annual race meeting was probably the last bicycle racing in Cleator Moor.


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