Northumberland - Morpeth
High Stanners : NE61 1QT
Northumberland - Morpeth : Image credit Google maps Morpeth Bicycle Club were granted permission, in August 1881, by Morpeth Town Council to build a bicycle track on High Stanners. The council remarked that "it would encourage respectable young men to a little healthy exercise." The only conditions were that the track be ten feet wide, the track would be subject to any Council regulations and the club would pay a peppercorn rent of one shilling per annum.

A cinder track seems to have been built next to the river at High Stanners, the track was 4 laps to the mile, but there are no press reports of any racing on the track.

A new club called Morpeth Amateur Bicycle Club was formed in 1884, which quickly enrolled twenty members. The new club held races at the track on 12th and 13th August 1884, the races were limited to club members, the crowd numbered ‘some hundreds' and the Morpeth Brass Band supplied the music.

As High Stanners was an open space, dedicated to the public, no admission fee could be charged to people watching races at the track. This meant that event promoters had to rely on donations from local people for a prize fund, which severely limited the financial viability of events there.

The first Morpeth ABC open race meeting was held on October 6th 1884. A group of club members rode in procession from Castle Square to the track, where a thousand people had assembled for the racing. The two miles amateur bicycle handicap race had nineteen starters in seven heats, it was won by long marker Evans of Hartley. The one mile professional open handicap race was won by J Wilkinson of Hebburn off 30 yards, from a field of five riders. The sports over-ran and had to be completed on the following Saturday.

The following year, the club held its second annual sports and managed to raise £20 for prize money. The 1888 club annual sport meeting was held on October 1st, which was a local public holiday and a few hundred people attended the event. The one mile club handicap race was won by JJ Gillespie. In the one mile open handicap race, Thomas Sheel, one of the crack local riders, was involved in a crash with Gellender of Newcastle and both riders fell, Sheel breaking his arm. The race was won by Richardson of Seaton Delaval off scratch, who also won the two miles open handicap race.

The Morpeth ABC held their annual sports on Whit Tuesday 1889 and about 50 entries were received. A club race over three miles was held on September 20th 1889 with 15 club members, Thomas Sheel was off scratch. The last annual sports of Morpeth ACC was held in 1890 and there was no more bicycle racing at High Stanners after this. High Stanners remains as a public space.

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Photos : Google maps