Bilston - Midlands Velodrome

Great Bridge Road : DY4 0BY Bilston - Midlands Velodrome : Image credit Historic England
The Gordon Sports Pool was privately built on a large expanse of water, 16ft deep near the Gospel Oak Inn, on land that was originally marsh land. The open air pool was opened at Easter 1933 and was popular with swimmers. Power boat racing started there in September 1933, organised by the North Birmingham Outboard Racing Club and surf boarding was enjoyed behind a speedboat wake.

A ‘D' shaped timber track was built around the pool by FH Roberts, the track was 396 yards around, banked to 45 degrees and 26 feet wide, with an eight foot safety zone. The track, which was referred to as The Midland Velodrome, was built from timber laths and the construction was supervised by Bill Bailey, the former World Amateur Sprint Champion. The track had its first official trial, with some racing, in the presence of the NCU on July 3rd 1936.

Several top names were contracted for the opening meeting, which was planned for July 18th 1936. Unfortunately, rain washed out the event and the Sports Argus reported "The wooden cycle track was quickly saturated and it appeared quite unsafe for riding. Another meeting will be attempted on 1 August."

There was an evening meeting on July 23rd 1936 at which GR Giles, the New Zealand Olympic rider won the 1,000m time trail, Percy Stallard won the ½ mile open handicap and TD Blick won the 5 miles invitation scratch.

The opening race did take place on August 3rd with international professional riders Marcel Jezo and Roger Beaufrant, French Champions and Harold Smith, the Australian Champion. The British rider J Holland won the amateur events, which were 5 miles scratch race and ¾ mile open handicap, Percy Stallard also rode. Jezo won the professional omnium from Smith.

After the fairly hectic start to racing in 1936, there does not appear to have been any further bicycle racing at the Midland Velodrome and the Gordon Sports Pool probably also closed at this time. The problem with rain on wooden track was probably the main reason that the track was not commercially viable.

The site of the pool and track was developed for housing, around the area where Myrtle Terrace now stands.

Refs     : [p]
Photos : Historic England