Defunct Speedway Tracks

Birmingham Speedway
(Perry Barr)
Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium Walsall Road Birmingham.  Action began in 1929
Perry Barr v Newcastle
21st September 1929
Courtesy of Dave Brooks
Dave Brooks says: Hi John,  I came across this programme cover on a Perry Barr history page on Facebook. The woman who posted it has given me permission to share with speedway sites and fans.  I don’t know how rare or what it’s histrionic value is, but you can decide that. Best wishes, Dave Brooks.
John says:  This has to be a candidate for the best 1929 programme cover.  Does anyone know the value in hard cash of such an item John

Brian Buck says:  Hi John,
I have found your "defunct speedways" a fascinating read and a wealth of information. More power to your elbow!

I notice however, that you have not included Perry Barr in the Birmingham (John says: I have included PB now!) section, perhaps because many people are confused over the fact that there were two stadia in Perry Barr - virtually next door to each other, and both have at one time been known as "The Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium." 

Birmingham's first speedway meeting was staged at "Birchfield Harriers Alexander Sports Stadium" which is the stadium where the present day Birmingham team race, in 1928. (A further complication is that Birchfield Harriers current home which is about a mile away, is now called "The Alexander Stadium." In 1929 the operation was transferred across the Walsall Road (A34) to what was then called "The Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium." and was also staged on the opposite side of the City at Hall Green. Both tracks entered teams in the Southern League in both 1929 and 1930, Hall Green withdrew after only 7 matches in 1929, and Perry Barr likewise withdrew in 1930 after staging only two home and three away matches. (One of their home matches was against Hall Green - the only official "local derby" ever to be raced by the two clubs.

Hall Green closed for speedway at the end of the 1938 season, and when the sport returned to the City in 1946 it was not at the two greyhound tracks but at its original home of the Alexander Sports Ground. The post war promoter Les Marshall chose this venue in preference to the two greyhound stadia even though these both had far superior facilities, because due to government restrictions on the use of floodlighting, he needed a venue at which he could stage racing on a Saturday - and both Hall Green and Perry Barr Greyhound stadia staged dog racing on that night. Marshall also changed the pre-war "Bulldogs" team name to "Brummies" and the colours from the pre-war Blue and White to the present day Yellow and Red. Interestingly though, for the first nine or ten meetings, the programme cover continued to be blue and white, and the team also raced eleven matches before deciding to adopt the name "Brummies." (I believe the original suggested name had been "The Griffins."

The Alexander Stadium was closed for speedway in July 1957 and although it was successfully revived for a series of nine challenge matches in 1960, under the direction of Phil Hart and Doug Ellis, Birchfield Harriers declined to renew their speedway lease and their plans to join the Provincial League were thwarted. After a lengthy and unsuccessful search for an alternative site in Birmingham, Joe Thurley managed to persuade the owners of Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium to accomodate speedway there again after a 41 year absence. This stadium was owned by the Frazier Family who also had a large number of shoe shops in and around Birmingham, but it was later sold to Ladbroke's the bookmakers, and it's name was changed to "The Ladbroke Stadium." Ladbrokes sold the site for redevelopment at the end of 1983, and the speedway club moved the following year to the ill-fated Bordesley Green Wheels Park.

Meanwhile, Birchfield Harriers had abandoned their Alexander Stadium across the Walsall Road, and moved to the "New Alexander Stadium" a mile away. The old stadium was left derelict until a consortium of bookmakers from the Ladbroke Stadium obtained a 21 year lease from its new owners, the City Council with plans to construct a new dog track. Speedway promoter Les Powell concluded an agreement with the consortium to love the speedway back there, but this plan was scuppered when the council refused him planning permission. A year later, Les made a second planning application which was this time approved, but by then, the greyhound consortium had sold out to a Maurice Buckland, who rejected all offers to bring speedway back to the stadium. Eventually, in 2004, Maurice Buckland sold the operation to The GRA and Tony Mole was quickly able to reach an agreement to build a new track and bring back the Brummies in 2007. By this time, the stadium had been re-named "The Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium" so hopefully (!) I have been able to explain why there have been two Alexander Stadia, and two Perry Barr Stadia!!!

I hope all this might be useful to you for the website. I think I have a couple of pictures of the Ladbroke Stadium which I will look out and send to you if I can find them, and I'll also put together a bit of information about a sixth Birmingham venue which was at Salford Stadium in Aston, which for a time looked a promising prospect but which in the end never got past the opposition which blocked it.

Match Reports

Perry Barr From The Air
Courtesy of Brian Buck
Brian Buck says: I enclose a quite rare ariel picture taken sometime in the 1930's which clearly shows both of the Perry Barr tracks. The existing track (the one which the Brummies are using now) is right in the centre and the old greyhound track (later the Ladbroke Stadium) is a little higher on the far left.
A Sad Sight
Courtesy of Brian Buck
Brian Buck says: I am enclosing the last photograph taken of the old Ladbroke Stadium at Perry Barr which I took a few weeks after it's demolition in 1985.

Has anyone any memorabilia from Perry Barr? John

1928 Harley Peashooter
Many different makes of bikes were used in the early days.  The American Harley was winning races around the speedways in 1928 and the American machines may have been used at Perry Barr

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