Guildford - Sports Ground
Woodbridge Road : GU1 4RP
Guildford - Sports Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland Guildford - Sports Ground : Image credit In 1893, Lord Onslow gave the cricket club notice to quit the cricket ground on Woodbridge Road as he wished to sell the land for development. He offered a new piece of land at Dapdune Field to lease and a new Sports Ground was set up there in 1895, the ground was managed by the Guildford Sports Ground Company. The ground was used for football, Guildford FC played there, and County cricket, it is the home of Guildford cricket club. Bicycle races took place on a four laps to the mile grass track.

The new ground opened in 1894 and the first bicycle racing took place at the Guildford Amateur Athletic Club's sports meeting on Whit Monday 1895, all the events were handicapped, with open races over 1, 2 and 3 miles, a 2 miles tandem race and a 2 miles local race.

The Athletic Club Whit Monday sports continue until the 1920s and in 1899, two trophies were decided, the Pirbright Challenge Cup (presented by Lord Pirbright) over two miles and the Boyce Challenge Cup (presented by CW Boyce) over three miles.

By 1898 the Guildford BC had changed its name to Guildford Cycling Club, because a number of the members had tricycles, the club had 192 members. Guildford CC held their annual race meet on August 7th 1899 at the new Sports Ground on a 400 yards grass track and there were races over ½, 1, 2 and 3 miles.

In the early 1900s, two other cycling clubs were formed in Guildford, Guildford Wheelers and Stoke CC, these new clubs combined with Guildford CC to organise joint meetings at the ground. The August 1903 joint sports meeting with the Stoke and Guildford clubs generated £22 in profit. By 1911, both of the new cycling clubs were defunct.

The Athletic Club sports were replaced by the Denny Athletic Club sports in 1910, with bicycle racing very much diminished. To save the sports ground from possible development, the ground was purchased from Lord Onslow in 1912 by Sir Harry Waechter, who gave the sports ground to the town.

After the First World War, the management of the sports ground was heavily criticised, the ground was in a poor state and the company was in debt. Cycle racing resumed at the ground after the war with the Martinsyd Recreation Club sports sports meeting on July 19th 1919.

The Surrey County Athletics Championship meetings were held at the ground from 1920 and included some cycle races. HE Ryan of the Polytechnic won the Surrey Cup outright in the 10 miles scratch race on May 14th 1921. There were railway company sports in 1922 and 1923, but cycle racing events at the ground were very few in the late 1920s because heavy losses had been incurred at the 1921 County Athletics Championship meeting.

Charlotteville Cycling Club was formed at Guildford in 1903, for working class cyclists and when Guildford CC went defunct in 1913, Charlotteville CC the only cycling club in Guildford. The Charlotteville CC raced primarily on the road until 1930, after which they started promoting many top class track race meetings at the sports ground, which lasted for the next twenty years, their mid-week evening meetings were legendary. At the June 24th 1931 event, there were match races between Olympic silver medallist brothers Ernie and Stan Chambers and GH Stone plus a pursuit race between Harry Grant and Frank Southall. In 1933 Dennis Horn, Jack Sibbit, Ernie Chambers and CB Phelps were competing. 1934 saw Toni Merkens, the German champion, racing on grass for the first time in his career, against Denis Horn, Jack Sibbit, Ernie Chambers and Charlie Helps. The popular cycling clown Chacewater Charlie appeared at the event and amused the large crowd of 2,500.

George Nightingale (who beat the hour in a 25 mile time trial that week) was matched against George Fleming (the 30 miles competition record holder) at the June 21st 1939 midweek meeting, Fleming won the Australian pursuit and Nightingale won the five miles scratch race.

The Charlotteville CC held a midweek meeting on June 19th 1940, attracting 1,000 spectators and the professional rider Marguerite Wilson, the holder of 13 English women's road records made a non-racing appearance at the event. After the Second World War, in 1947, the Charlotteville CC resumed track racing and held Whit Monday Cycling and Athletics meetings through the 1950s. There were very few meetings at the ground in the 1960s and the last cycle racing there was probably the mid-week race meeting on July 9th 1970.

The Sports Ground on Woodbridge Road is now a cricket ground and it is the home of Guildford Cricket Club. County Championship cricket matches are still played there.

Guildford - Sports Ground : Image credit Starostneradost Guildford - Sports Ground : Image credit Starostneradost
Refs     : [p]
Photos :, Starostneradost
Maps    : National Library of Scotland