Liverpool - Police Athletic Ground I

Shiel Road : L6 3AQ Liverpool - Police Athletic Ground I : Image credit Wiki Commons Liverpool - Police Athletic Ground I : Map credit National Library of Scotland
The Liverpool Police Athletic Society was set up initially to provide football facilities for the police force and they leased an eight acre field which was levelled, drained and enclosed to form a sports ground. The Police Athletic Ground opened around 1886 and was used for football, cricket, athletics, cycling, rounders and quoits, and a touring American baseball team played there in 1889, drawing large crowds.

The Police Athletic Society held their first sports on August 28th 1886 and included two bicycle races, a one mile handicap, confined to police members and a two miles open handicap race. Other competitions included running, walking, wrestling, quoits, hammer and tug-of-war. The Police sports became an annual event and attracted large crowds, six thousand saw the 1889 sports.

William Hume** of the Belfast Cruisers CC, crossed over to Liverpool on July 19th 1889 to ride at the Liverpool Police Athletic Society Sports the following day. Hume rode an Enlin & Company bicycle which was specially built for him and had pneumatic tyres, on which he won both the one and three miles handicap races fairly easily. This was the first time a bicycle with pneumatic tyres had been raced in England. After the meeting, Hume displayed his machine in a bicycle shop near Lime Street, where a large crowd gathered and the police had to be called.

There was a two day meeting at Shiel Road for professional riders on August 8th 1890 where there were scratch races over 1, 2, 3 and 10 miles, most of these were ‘mixed' safeties and ordinaries. The one mile race won by R English was billed optimistically as the ‘Champion of the World'. There were 2,000 spectators.

The Sefton and Dingle CC 3rd annual athletic festival took place on August 15th 1891 and the bicycle races were; ½ and 2 miles handicap, 1 mile race was for roadsters not under 32lb in weight and there was a 1 mile inter-club race for teams of four. The Sefton and Dingle club had moved to the Police ground in an attempt to increase attendance, but unfortunately their profit from the event dropped from £45 to £2.

Everton FC held a sports meeting at the ground on August 20th 1892 which included two and five miles bicycle handicap races, there were 7,000 spectators. A young police constable named Enoch Lawton, was training on the track in April 1894, riding a very lightweight bicycle that had been built for him, when the front forks of his bicycle broke and he crashed to the ground and died, never having re-gained consciousness.

The last Police annual sports at Shiel Road on July 2nd 1898 and there was an enormous attendance of 20,000. The bicycle events were 1 and 2 miles handicap, 2 miles scratch and a 1 mile police race which formed part of a national police sports competition comprised of five scratch races. On August 1st 1898, the Police organised another meeting, which was to be the last at their Shiel Road ground. The bicycle handicap events were over one and two miles and a three miles race for shop assistants.

Later in 1898, the police received six months notice to quit the ground, and it was stated that they never had a lease. The site was subsequently developed for terraced housing, in the area that is now Kelso Road. The following year, the police sports moved to the New Brighton Tower venue, whilst the police were still looking for a new ground.

** William Hume bought a pneumatic bicycle from Edlin & Company, Belfast in March 1889 and raced it at Queen's College Sports, Belfast on May 18th 1889 winning all four races. This was the first time that a pneumatic bicycle had been seen in a race. In June 1889, Edlin built another pneumatic racing bicycle for JB Dunlop himself and this machine was ridden by several racing men, including JM McCornwick.

Liverpool - Police Athletic Ground I : Image credit Old Photos of Liverpool FB
Refs     : [573] [574] [p]
Photos : Wiki Commons, Old Photos of Liverpool FB
Maps    : National Library of Scotland