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Legrams Lane Track

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Gone to the Dogs...

I did say .. “not forgotten” but this case there is little that is memorable! This cycle track in Bradford, West Yorkshire was on the inside of a greyhound track. By the time I first visited it was already closed and by the time I took these photos it was being demolished. Not that there was a lot left to demolish by then.
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The City Greyhound Stadium, situated off Legrams Lane, Princeville, Bradford opened on Monday 15 August 1932. And attracted a crowd of 4,000 to the opening greyhound meeting. After the war the Stadium was briefly featured in the 1958 film ‘Room at the Top’, which was adapted from the book by Bradford author John Braine. But a steady decline became a sudden stop through a serious fire in 1963. [from a
brief history of the stadium]

The last greyhound meeting was held in 1965 and it is stated that “the greyhound track was converted in a banked velodrome”. But my recollection is that the cycle track was far from new in the mid-1960’s and that the greyhound track was still around the outside when these photos were taken [in 1966 I think].

My guess was the cycle track was as old as the rest of the stadium - and like the greyhound track it had noticeable slope. Certainly I never heard of any track racing there in the 1960’s - and so far I have not found any records of actual events.

So there certainly was a track - and one that was still just about rideable in 1965. But when it was used as a velodrome remains something of a mystery.

However there is sure to be someone out there that can fill this gap in the cycling archives.

Updates below ...
from 1963 and 1953

Update 8-Mar-2010
Trawling through a pile of back-issues of “Cycling and Mopeds” revealed this optimistic little gem -

West Riding Tracker (5-Jun-1963)
WEEKLY track racing js a welcome function in Yorkshire's West Riding. In addition to the fortnightly grass track programme already established at Roundhay Park, Leeds, a new series of Wednesday evening events has been launched at the 325-yard asphalt banked track at the City Sports and Greyhound Stadium, Legrams Lane, Bradford. A new Bradford Track Racing League has been formed to promote this series; full details are obtainable from R. G. Smith, 15 Roy Road, Bradford. The City Stadium offers its full social facilities to the cyclists who must all - riders, officials and spectators alike - pay an admission fee of 1s. [that’s 5p in decimal]. Competitors pay a league enrolment fee of 3s. 6d., and 1s. 6d. per meeting ; schoolboys a lesser amount. With prospects of a new municipal hard track in Leeds there are clear indications of a boom in track sport in West Yorkshire.”

Given the date of the article the 1963 fire must have been after June. 47 years later and local cyclists are still waiting for the new Leeds track (and my all-chrome track bike has now rusted away). Me, cynical? What I have got to be cynical about?

Promises, promises.......

Roundhay1960sUpdate 30-Mar-2010
MID-YORKSHIRE TRACK RACING (Cycling 5-Nov-1953)
TRACK racing in the Mid-Yorkshire area - with the exception of occasional scattered colliery, club and factory meetings - is confined to the West Riding Track League events on the grass oval at Roundhay Park, a beautiful spot on the outskirts of Leeds where the track sits in a natural grass amphitheatre that affords a perfect view to thousands of spectators; and to the meetings at Bradford City Stadium hard track.
Track League meetings are fortnightly, and are well-supported, with 100 riders from surrounding clubs regularly competing before crowds of upwards of 5,000 on summer Sundays, when Roundhay Park becomes a spot for the family outing. >>
No admission fee can be charged, but the profits from a collection are given to charity. Most prominent club at the moment is the Leeds Kirkgate C.C., of which Ellis Brown, the man behind the league, is a member. But it was Les Wilson, who comes from a family of athletes, who starred the promotions before his entry into road racing and the independent ranks this year. Wilson has been Centre champion at all distances, and had considerable success as a 25-miler before winning the Manchester-Birmingham road race this year and following up with some fine - and to some people, surprising - riding in the
Tour of Britain.
Wilson, incidentally, was previously a member of the Leeds St. Christopher's C.C.C., founded by three men in 1938, one of whom, Jack Keavey, is now president. It is one of the strongest of the Catholic Cycling Club sections, with an active membership of 50, a good, well-supported programme, and some fine racing material in Pete Duggan and T. Backhouse.

But, to get back to track racing. A feature of the Yorkshire calendar this year has been the meetings at the Bradford City Stadium run by Johnny Mapplebeck under B.L.R.C. rules. The track is hard, banked and built inside a greyhound ring, but is a little bumpy for really high speed work. It has attracted good crowds, especially for the Reg Harris - Cyril Bardsley versus B.L.R.C. independents meeting, when the surrounds were packed full. The track has been open three years, but 1953 has been its best year - especially for those N.C.U. men who took out B.L.R.C. licences and walked off with most of the season's prizes!”

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So that pretty much confirms that not only was Legrams Lane Track used seriously - but that it actually hosted World Sprint Champions in its modest surroundings. Sobering to see how events that made headlines can just fade away so completely...... ashes to ashes I guess.

But there’s more ...

Legrams2Update 4-Apr-2010 -
And here is a picture of the Stadium in better times sent in by Tom O’Dwyer - Thanks, Tom

Update 15-Apr-2010 -
Yorkshire sprint championships were held at two different track meetings on July 18 - but both were unofficial title races. The first was the 500-yard scratch race for the "Press Fund" cup at the B.L.R.C. meeting at the Bradford City Stadium where Ronnie Wise, Leeds Rover, won a good race contested only by West Yorkshire riders. The second was at the Knottingly "flapper" meeting where former West Riding N.C.U. 440-yard champion Ken Burrill, who had been riding under the rules right up to that time, won the Yorkshire professional sprint title. (The Bicycle, 29 July 1953).
Ilkley and District C.C. official A. Pocklington is planning to revive track racing on the Bradford City Stadium track next season. That privately owned asphalt track was used extensively in the 1951 and 1952 seasons, but in 1953 racing was mostly limited to a track league competition which ended prematurely. During the past year there has been very little activity. The track is still in fair condition, but will be overhauled before next spring when, starting on the first Wednesday in May, Mr. Pocklington, who is of course a B.L.R.C. enthusiast, plans to run weekly meetings throughout the summer. (The Bicycle, 29 December 1954)

Update 23-Jun-2013
Geoff Smith of the East Bradford CC recalls his memories of racing at Legrams Lane - “My old man R G Smith (Acker) ran the club nights there in 1962/63. We had a plumbing business, and as I was in the national junior track squad. He set about "cleaning it up" with his own workmen. After many hours with heavy stiff "yard brushes" cleaning the track - they used it has a dog toilet ah ah - it was ready to ride. We had up to 40 riders each week and with agreement from the West Riding Track League we ran the Yorkshire  4000m pursuit championship. I won the event and Dave Benn (Shipley Road Club) was second. We then ran a Saturday night open track meeting sponsored by the local paper, the Telegraph and Argus. I had been riding an international track meeting at Herne Hill the previous week (won the Cooper Cup )and R G invited two South African riders up who had ridden the Worlds - John Lehey (pursuit) and John McDonald (sprint). It was a great success. Sadly after this meeting the bulldozers moved in and it was demolished. I have quite a few photo's and newspaper clippings.”

Update 3-Feb-2014
And here is an aerial shot covering the corresponding district of Bradford from about 1949. Today the area is almost unrecognisable. The railway goods yard has gone - along with the tracks that lead to it. Most of the mills / factories have gone and the vacant land is built over.
Thanks again, Geoff.

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