Birmingham - Bingley Hall
Broad Street : B1 2EA
Birmingham - Bingley Hall : Map credit National Library of Scotland Birmingham - Bingley Hall : Image credit Wiki Commons Bingley Hall was a very large exhibition area that was built in central Birmingham in 1850 and was the first exhibition hall in the UK. The hall was used for horse, cattle and industrial shows.

The Birmingham Athletic Club had a lease on the hall in 1869 for £100 per annum and velocipedes were introduced there with the club providing three bicycles. The club held their annual sports at Portland Road Athletic Grounds and on May 1st 1869 and included a bicycle race.

In September 1875, the whole of the exhibition hall was covered in ‘asphalte' and the hall was used for roller skating, this was however suspended whilst the shows and exhibitions were being held. Brighton Skating Rink company held a lease on Bingley Hall in 1878 and ‘roller mania' was a lasting craze at that time. There were around six roller skating rinks around Birmingham, including an asphalt rink at Aston Lower Grounds.

Six day bicycle races were held at Bingley Hall on specially erected wooden tracks. The first was on October 27th 1879, with competitors riding 14 hours per day. The Bingley Hall event was thought to be just the fourth 6 day race in the UK and the first outside London. Following the 6 day race there was a 100 miles race on November 10th 1879 with George Waller, Walter Phillips, FJ Lees and R Patrick competing for £50 in prizes. The race was won by Lees of Sheffield from Phillips.

A Sports and Pastimes Exhibition was held on September 4th 1882 and a two miles bicycle scratch race was held at the exhibition, together with a one mile bicyclist vs pedestrian race. It is probable that the races were held on a track marked out on the asphalt floor of the hall as there was no 6 day race at Bingley Hall at this time. The Speedwell Bicycle Club promoted an annual exhibition of bicycles at Bingley Hall in the early 1880s, which became a very popular showcase for new bicycles and equipment.

Over Christmas 1887, a 6 day bicycle race was held between three cyclists and two cowboy horsemen. A temporary timber track was built in the exhibition hall with nine laps to the mile and made of planks ‘in the American style' with the corners banked. For the horses, an eight laps to the mile track was built. There were other races held during the event, principally a hundred miles ‘Championship of the World' race on December 24th 1887 The eleven starters including R Howell champion of England, Jules Dubois champion of Europe, C Terront of France, R Temple of Chicago and English rides J Lees and Bob English. The race winner was Terront in a record time of 5h 58m.

A 6 day "meeting for lady cyclist" was held at the hall on December 16th 1895, similar to meetings that had been held in Sheffield and London. A wooden track, well banked at the corners, was constructed in the hall. The race included Mrs Grace, the ‘champion lady bicyclist of the world', Mrs Welch and the Misses Lane, Jameson, Deacon and Blackburn. During the race there was also a local 50 miles handicap race featuring Misses Farrar, Dolman, Pratt and Mrs Deakin. This was probably the last bicycle race at Bingley Hall.

Bingley Hall was used for exhibitions and meetings until it burned down following a camping and leisure exhibition in 1984. The International Convention Centre was built on the site.

Birmingham - Bingley Hall : Image credit Birmingham - Bingley Hall : Image credit Birmingham Mail
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Photos : Wiki Commons,, Birmingham Mail
Maps    : National Library of Scotland