Derby - Racecourse
Nottingham Road : DE21 6DA
Derby - Racecourse : Map credit National Library of Scotland Derby - Racecourse : Image credit The Derby Recreation Company was formed in 1877 "for the purpose of providing the town of Derby and neighbourhood with Buildings and Grounds...for the general encouragement of national Sports and Pastimes". To this end, the company took out a 21 year lease on the 148 acres racecourse and purchased the Grand Stand building, and raised £6,000 in share capital. The following year, the company started letting the ground for horse racing, football and cricket. In 1880, a new cinder bicycle race track, 5½ laps to the mile, was laid down in the paddock adjoining the Grand Stand and Hotel.

The new track was opened on July 17th 1880 with races including a one handicap, run in seven heats, and a one mile professional handicap race won by John Keen off scratch from a class field which included JT Williams, A Rawson, B Keen and G Lockley. The racing continued on the following Monday.

Derby Bicycle Club moved their meetings from the Aboretum to the new track in 1880. The club's first meeting at the racecourse track was on August 7th 1880, but after the first race, the one mile open handicap had been run, the meeting was abandoned due to torrential rain. The meeting was completed the following Wednesday. The club championship five miles race was held on 4th December 1880. After one year of operating, the Recreation Company reported a profit and paid a 10% dividend.

The Derby BC Athletic Festival was held on 14th July 1881, but the attendance was poor because of the competing Royal Agricultural Show. The sport was reported in the Derby Mercury as "very tame". John Keen triumphed again in the three miles professional race held at the weekend meeting on July 27th and 29th 1881, Keen won the £10 first prize and beat W Cann, Higham, Lockley, Rawson and the Dutchman Albert Derkinderen. The amateur one mile handicap race was won by WH Price of Burton, who won a Rawson bicycle, valued at £17.

After this encouraging start, bicycle racing on the racecourse ground seems to have stopped at the close of 1881, after only two years.

Derby - Racecourse : Image credit Derby Telegraph
Refs     : [p]
Photos :, Derby Telegraph
Maps    : National Library of Scotland