Burnley - Burnley Athletic Ground
Athletic Street : BB10 4LP
Burnley - Burnley Athletic Ground : Map credit National Library of Scotland Burnley Athletic Ground Company was formed in 1895 and they purchased 10 acres of land at Towneley Park at a cost of £4,000 from Lady O'Hagan that they intended to develop as an athletics ground. Before the athletic ground was built, sporting events began there on 7th September 1895 and featured horse racing, trotting races, wrestling and a gala in the evening.

The Lancashire Daily Post reported in 1896 that the company intended to build "two fine bicycle tracks, one of Portland cement, three laps to the mile; and an inner track, a cinder one, three and a half laps to the mile." The scheme also included a football pitch, bowling green, stands, offices and dressing rooms. The ground would accommodate 35,000 spectators and would open in July 1896.

The Grounds were duly built in 1896 at a cost of £5,000 to include a 3 laps to the mile, well banked, cement bicycle track and a cinder running track 3½ laps to the mile. The finance was provided by the Halifax Building Society. In 1896, an application for a full six day drinks licence was unanimously refused by Burnley County Licensing Sessions.

Bicycle racing at Burnley Athletic Ground started in 1897; the first event was the Burnley Victoria CC Jubilee sports, held on June 22nd 1897 which included the 5 miles NCU local championship. The event was well supported with 300 entries.

The Burnley Charity Sports on 31 July 1897 was popular with riders but not with the public. The racing included a 10 miles scratch race and an inter-club race between Burnley Victoria, Burnley Central, Nelson and Colne. A meeting on September 4th 1897 was advertised as "A crowd of Professional Champions" meeting, which including the American Frank Kramer, who was Major Taylor's chief rival.

Bicycle race meetings continued into 1900, but attendances were not high. In 1899 one of the leading members of the Athletics Grounds Company went bankrupt, the Grounds were offered for sale, but no offers were made.

Burnley Victoria CC continued to take a leading role at the Grounds and Burnley Football Club and Burnley Cricket Club both held annual athletic festivals. At a BVCC meeting in 1900, motor racing was incorporated, with a 5 miles motor tricycle speed trial. The meetings in the early 1900's could sometimes attract 3,000 spectators. Racing continued in the early 1900's and Burnley Clarion held a track meeting on July 1st 1905.

The Grounds were again offered for sale in 1906, but no bids were made and the Grounds remained unsold. The last bicycle races at the Athletic Ground was probably the Burnley Cricket and Bowling Club‘s 39th annual sports festival on Good Friday 1909. The cycling events were two handicap races and a 5 miles scratch race.

The Grounds continued to be used for flat (running) races and pedestrianism (walking) races. The ground closed during the First World War and part of the Burnley Athletic Ground was developed in 1913-14 and Mitella Street was built there. The whole area around Athletic Street was eventually built on with housing and light industrial buildings.

Refs     : [9] [10] [p]
Maps    : National Library of Scotland