Hyde Road Stadium
Hyde Road had a 40,000 capacity with a track length of 382 metres (418 yards), and was built around an existing athletics and cycling track. It is alleged that Britain’s first open grass-track event took place here on 25 February 1928. Later, with the grass gone, it was claimed to be the first purpose built speedway track in Britain. The opening speedway meeting here was staged on 23 March 1929, when Arthur Franklyn won the Golden Helmet.
Belle Vue resigned from league racing (English Dirt Track League) in 1929, stating that it wasn’t popular enough. In 1930 they were leading members of the uncompleted Northern League. In 1931 Belle Vue reserves took over Harringay’s fixtures, after they had withdrawn from the Southern League. This meant the Aces had a team in both the Northern and Southern Leagues although they were often referred to as Manchester in the Southern League.
Belle Vue again had two teams in 1934, one in the National League and the other, known as the Goats, in the reserve league. Liverpool transferred their provincial league operation to Belle Vue in 1937, so again, Belle Vue had a team in both leagues.
Belle Vue was the only track to continue operating throughout the Second World War, running a total of 176 meetings during the war years, which were attended by a total of 2,816,000 people. The winners of the wartime British Individual Championships were:
- 1940 Eric Chitty
- 1941 Eric Chitty
- 1942 Eric Chitty
- 1943 Ron Clarke
- 1944 Frank Varey
- 1945 Bill Kitchen
After the war, team racing resumed, with the Aces taking their place in the 1946 National League, and subsequently Division One the following year. There was sadness on 13 September 1947 however, when manager E.O. Spence died. Johnnie Hoskins took over from Alice Hart as promoter in 1953.
With so few tracks running, the Aces found themselves in the 11 team National League in 1957. A change in promoter occurred in 1960 with Ken Sharples taking charge. Harold Jackson took over as Speedway Manager in 1964, prior to the Aces becoming founder members of the British League in 1965. Dent Oliver became Speedway Manager in 1967, and remained in that position until 1973.
Frank Varey took over as Speedway Manager in 1974, before Jack Fearnley took up the reins in 1974. In 1982, former World Stock-Car Champion Stuart Bamforth became promoter. The stadium was also used for Stock Car racing right up to its closure in 1987.
Following the announcement that Bamforth had sold the stadium for redevelopment, the last speedway meeting was staged on 1 November 1987, when a double header took place. Firstly, Belle Vue defeated the Coventry Bees in a replay of the League Cup before losing to the Cradley Heath Heathens in the final league match ever raced at Hyde Road.
Famous quotes containing the words stadium and/or road:
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—Charles Sanders Peirce (18391914)
“Much as I own I owe
The passers of the past
Because their to and fro
Has cut this road to last,
I owe them more today
Because theyve gone away....”
—Robert Frost (18741963)