Defunct Speedway Tracks

 


 

New Cross Speedway

 

New Cross Stadium, Hornshay Street, Old Kent Road, London. Operated between 1934-1963

 
New Cross Speedway   Tom Farndon  The Spectacular George Newton  Jeff Lloyd New Cross Badges
 

 
 
New Cross Stadium
 
 
 

The two photographs shown above are courtesy of Norman Jacobs.  My thanks to Norman, the photos are superb

 

 
Two More Aerial Images
 
 
Above: 1962 New Cross stadium, also showing the old Millwall football ground.
 
 
Above: 2006 New Cross and the reason why they will be no more speedway on this site. Hard to believe what 44 years can do. Tree lines now replace the rail lines, and houses over the old Millwall football ground.
 

 
 
London's Most Popular Track
 
Courtesy of Ken Bailey
 
Ken lives in North Queensland Australia. His father, recently deceased, was the speedway fan and the above picture was found in his belongings.  The New Cross track looks to be in immaculate condition in this photo
 

 
 

Ken Bailey's Photo's

 

Cordy & Jack Milne

 
 
The American Milne Brothers in action at New Cross. Cordy and Jack.  I don't which is which!
 
 
Jack Milne
 
Courtesy of Ken Bailey
 
A fine photo of American Jack Milne.  His bike (JAP) looks brand new.  I am looking for a similar photo of his brother Cordy to complete this section.  If you have one please send me an image John
 
 
New Cross v Wimbledon
 
22nd May 1935
 
 
 

 
 
Sherri Joyce's Photos
 
Hi John, I recently found these old b/w pictures that my dad had tucked away. He was a New Cross supporter back in the day. Thought you may like them to put up on your website. Don’t know what dates they are but they were official issue
John says: Sherri's photos follow below: -
 
 
Les Webbon
 
 

 
 
Frank Hodgson
 
 
John Hyam says: Of further note in the New Cross section: photos of Frank Hodgson and Malcolm Craven.I am certain neither rode for New Cross.
Pre-war Hodgson rode for Hackney Wick. Post war at Middlesbrough and (????) Ashfield.
Malcolm Craven pre-WW2 rode for  Wembley (on loan for a time at Birmingham). Post-war at West Ham.
regards,  John.
 

 
 
Frank Lawrence
 
 

 
 
Malcolm Craven
 
 
John Hyam says: Of further note in the New Cross section: photos of Frank Hodgson and Malcolm Craven.I am certain neither rode for New Cross.
Pre-war Hodgson rode for Hackney Wick. Post war at Middlesbrough and (????) Ashfield.
Malcolm Craven pre-WW2 rode for  Wembley (on loan for a time at Birmingham). Post-war at West Ham.
regards,  John.
 
 

 
 
Ray Moore
 
 
John says: My thanks to Sherri Joyce for sending the 5 photos shown above.  British Speedway needs successful tracks around the London area.  The London catchment area is massive so hopefully a promoter will come along and re-introduce the sport in an area like New Cross/West Ham/Wimbledon etc.
 

 
 
Fred Pallett's Photos
 
 
 

John says: These 2 photos shown above are courtesy of Fred Pallett.  This page has a number of images of New Cross Stadium.  It was an immaculate stadium for our sport.

 

 
 
New Cross Rangers
 
Promoters London Motor Sports Ltd: F.E. Mockford Managing Director
 
Jack Milne
 
 

 
 
Norman Evans 1936
 
 

 
 
New Cross Team 1930's
 
 
Back Row Stan Greatrex, Nobby Key, Jack Milne, Harry Collins, Ernie Evans, Harry Shepherd, Front Row Ron Johnson, Mike Erskine, Fred Mockford, Norman Evans, George Newton.  Every action photo I have seen of George Newton has been spectacular.  Pity I was too young to have seen him on track
 

 
 
Doris Lewis' Memories
 
Doris Lewis aged 88 (as at 2014) says: Hi John, I have just discovered your super web site on New Cross Speedway.  I was a nine year old girl when I became a supporter of the wonderful New Cross club in 1936.  
 
Seeing your photos of Ron Johnson, Jack Milne, Stan Greatrex and many others plus pictures of the track and stands has brought back so many memories for me. For a while I relived the excitement of getting ready on a Wednesday evening to meet my three cousins and going off to our beloved stadium and idols.
 
Dressed in our orange and black scarves and hats, the long walk or sometimes bad weather never seemed to bother us.  We always stood under the stand, on the first bend of the track, and couldn't wait to hear the roar of the bikes revving up and then the line ups at the starting gate. What joy!
 
Seeing all that again on your excellent web site took me from an 87 year old woman to that 9 year old child.  Thank you.
 
Doris says: I have sent you a photo of my treasured badge. 1936 - 1939 and my final year 1946
 

 
 
New Cross Badges
 
Doris Lewis' badge shown above is a badge that will take some beating.  The badge is from the Art Deco period which makes it even more collectable.  However on with the other badges which follow below: -
 
1930 (I Think) 1934 1935
     

Car Badge
1946 & 1960 Year Unknown
   

 
 
New Cross Speedway
 
By John Hyam
 
John Hyam says: Speedway racing ‘down the Old Kent Road’ in south east London is just a long distant memory.
 
New Cross Stadium is now parkland. But for thousands of ‘Wednesday nighters’, great names like Ron Johnson, George Newton, Jack Milne and Tommy Farndon still roared round the 262-yard speedway, one of the smallest tracks to built in Britain.
 
Speedway racing came to New Cross Stadium as backing for greyhound racing, and it proved an ‘ideal sporting marriage’ to help the arena pay its way.
 
The bikes roared into action at New Cross on April 18, 1934, when promoter Fred Mockford moved the Crystal Palace team into the new stadium at Hornshay Street, just off the Old Kent Road. New Cross beat West Ham 32-21 in a National League match before 15,000 fans.
 
That same year, Mockford also introduced the starting gate. Harry Shepherd and his mechanic Alf Smith played a big part in the development which replaced flag starting.
 
Shepherd had good local connections. For years he was a partner in a building firm at Loampit Vale, Lewisham, with team-mate Triss Sharp. Another local was Joe Francis, like Shepherd and Sharp, a pioneer member of the New Cross Rangers. He was a motorcycle dealer at Eltham, less than 10 miles from the track.
 
Australian rider Ron Johnson, who lost the tops of two fingers on his right hand at Crystal Palace when he bent down to adjust a clip on his bike’s primary chain, was one of the top men until well into the 1940s.
 
Losing parts of the hand did not worry the old-timers. American ace Jack Milne lost his right thumb in a track accident in 1937, and while in hospital practiced a new-style throttle control on his hospital bed rail.
 
He came out and carried on the season in brilliant form, ending the season as world champion. He took the crown from the Australian rider Lionel van Praag, who was then with Wembley.
 
Ten years later, after the closedown of the 1939-45 World War Two years for speedway, Praag rode for New Cross in the 1947 season. A qualified pilot, he served with the Australian air force in the war and was awarded the British Empire Medal. He rescued one of his crew from the shark-infested Tinor Sea after their plane had been shot down by a Japanese fighter.
 
The big pre-war hero was Tommy Farndon, hailed as England’s best rider at the time, an opinion still endorsed by many today.
 
Farndon was the only rider to die after an accident at New Cross. It happene in 1935, during an unimportant second-half race, after Farndon had raced unbeaten in the preceding league match. Farndon’s machine locked with close rival Ron Johnson’s bike as they went in to the pits bend. He was thrown in to the safety fence and taken unconcious to the Miller General Hospital at Greenwich.
 
Crowds waited for days outside the hospital for news of Farndon’s condition, and when it was announced that he had died, many fell to their knees, crying in an guish. For years after that, Farndon’s memory was kept alive by a trophy named after him,
 
Farndon was one of many English riders at the track who gained international honours. Another was the wildly spectacular George Newton who, like Farndon, was a legtrailer.
 
Newton’s best pre-war season was 1938, when he set a track record of 58 seconds that stood for 10 years. But, at the end of 1938, Newton was forced to retire because of a lung infection.
 
In 1948, Newton made a come-back, minus one lung. His first meeting proved a disaster, He fell in all five races, twice on the starting gate. But he persisted and by mid-season was hitting big scores until he was rushed to hospital with peritonitis. In 1949, he came back for a few meetings, then went into the Second Division and rode until the end of 1953.
 
The 1938 season was New Cross’ best pre-war effort, when they won the National League First Division title by five points from West Ham. Ten years later they had their only other season as champions when they finished two points ahead of a Vic Duggan-inspired Harringay.
 
Like most tracks, New Cross closed in September 1939 when World War Two started, and were among the first to reopen in 1945. They ran a series of open meetings before the league started in 1946.
 
Ron Johnson, Geoff Pymar, Les Wotton and Eric French were the backbone of the 1946 team. They also had a South African, Keith Harvey, who at 50 years was the oldest rider in the sport.
 
From nearby Lee Green, the local element was supplied by garage mechanic Mick Mitchell, who broke into speedway in 1939 when Crystal Palace reopned in the secon division.
 
Then, in 1947, amidst much publicity New Cross signed the Australian ‘White Ghost’ Ken le Breton, so called because of his white leathers. He didn’t stay long at New Cross, going to second division Newcastle with a 1,000 cheque in an exchange deal that brought Jeff Lloyd into the Rangers’ orange and black race jacket.
 
There was a roar of laughter when le Breton stepped on to the New Cross centre green to be introduced, a week before making his debut for the club. He was nattily dressed in a pin-stripe suit, a bowler hat and carried a neatly rolled umbrella.
 
Le Breton was then the sport’s supreme showman and developed riding ability to match it. But for an untimely race track crash in Sydney, Australia, in January 1951 which cost him his life, he would probably have been a world champion.
 
New Cross were famous for their brotherhoods. Pre-war, George Newton was joined by his brother Ernie, and Tommy Farndon’s brother Sid also tried his hand. And pre-war Australian rider Clem Mitchell’s brother Lindsay also raced at New Cross in the 1950s.
 
Ray and Derek Ellis were two post-war brothers who raced for New Cross, but the most famous brotherhood of the lot was a trio - the first in the sport to race for the same club ib Cyril, Bert and Bob Roger. All rode for England and became world finalists,
 
Another with local associations was Ron Johnson’s post-war protege Ray Moore, who joined the track as a novice after demob from the RAF in 1946. By 1948, Moore was an England international. His slump in form coincided with a loss of form by Johnson, who was never the same rider after fracturing his skull in a crash at Wimbledon in 1949.
 
For years after his retirement in 1954, Moore ran a car sales business in Albany Road, Peckham, next door to the famous ‘boxing’ pub the Thomas A’Becket where Moore was a ‘regular.’ He turned to car racing after a fleeting 1959 speedway return for Johnnie Hoskins at New Cross. He was killed in a car racing accident at Aintree in 1963.
 
Speedway flourished for many years, and the track was also the scene for many international events. The decline in spectator interest came with the sport’s change of surface for tracks from deep cinders to slick shale. The spectacular legtrail style of riding vanished, riders went foot-forward, and race results became more predictable.
 
The end of speedway in a big way at New Cross came on June 10, 1953, when Freddie Mockford withdrew them from the National League. In their last match, they drew 42-42 against Bradford.
 
Johnnie Hoskins, the veteran promoter who was reputed to have ‘started it all’ at West Maitland, Australia, in  1923, later promoted for a couple of seasons, but even he could not pull back the crowds. Hoskins’ first New Cross promotion was on August 19, 1959.
 
Hoskins relinquished his interest at the end of 1961. Speedway was back on April 12, 1963, when promoter Wally Mawdsley entered the team in the Provincial League, but they folded in mid-season. The last match was on August 2 when visiting Poole won 41-37.
 
Stock cars came in 1954, the first ever British meeting was on Good Friday, April 16. After three weeks they moved to Harringay. There was a brief late 1960s revival.
 
Greyhound racing had a longer life at New Cross. It started in 1933 and continued until 1969. Then the Greyhound Racing Association switched its attention to nearby Catford.
 
Eventually, Lewisham Council bought the land from the owners British Rail. In March, 1974, the demolition men moved in and knocked down the stadium prior to laying parkland. It signalled the end of an era that for more than 40 years had been very much a part of life for south Londoners.
 
John Skinner says: My thanks to John Hyam for providing the above info on New Cross.
 
Speedway Historian John Hyam has been in touch again with some photos of New Cross riders.  John's photos follow below: -
 
 
A Panoramic View of
New Cross
 
 
 
A great photo of the whole track and a not so great photo of a lamp standard! With the very tidy New Cross stadium in the background
 
 
Ron Johnson
 
 
 
Clem Mitchell
 
 
 
Roger Frogley
 
 
Roger Frogley, early 1930s at Crystal Palace
 
 
George Newton
 
 
 
John Skinner says: This action photograph is one of my favourite speedway pics and I have seen many.  I am, at 62yrs, too young to have seen George ride but every action picture I have seen of him shows him to have been a very spectacular rider.
 
 
Jack Milne USA
 
 
A brilliant photo of Jack Milne, USA 1937 world champion
 
 
Crocky Rawding
 
 
 
Norman Evans 1930s
 
 
Norman moved north to ride for Newcastle Diamonds.  The Newcastle promoter at that time was Johnnie Hoskins who liked his riders to have nicknames.  Johnnie saddled Norman with "Pansy" Evans.  Not a great nickname for a speedway rider and shame on old Johnnie for naming Norman that way.  Norman was a great rider but not in world class.
 
 
Tom Farndon
 
 
 
 Painting of Tom Farndon
 
By John Proud
 
 
Tom Farndon on canvas
 
 
Tom Farndon Memorial Meeting
 
18 September 1935
 
 
 
 
 
 
David Pipes says: I came across this New Cross programme (shown above), a few years ago on a second hand bookstall – The Tom Farndon Memorial Meeting on 18 Sept 1935 – held a few weeks after Tom had died following the track crash.  I thought that you might like to include these scans in your New Cross page.  The format for this meeting was unusual in that there were only three riders in each race, each rider had three rides and the scoring was 2 points for a win, 1 point for second and none for third. The highest scoring three riders took part in the final which was won by Eric Langton with Jack Parker second and Max Grosskreutz third.
 

 
 
New Cross 1934 Team
 
 

1934 Team: Harry Shepherd, Roy Dook, Stan Greatorex, George Newton, Joe Francis, Tom Farndon, Fred Mockford, Ron Johnson and Nobby Key

 
 
Another 1934
Line Up
 

Courtesy of

 
1934: L to R Nobby Key, Tom Fardon, Ron Johnson, Fred Mockford manager, Harry Shepherd, Stan Greatorex, Roy Dook)
 

 
 
Norman Evans 1936
 
 

 
 
Mick Murphy
 
 

 
 
Jeff Lloyd
 

Courtesy of Kevin

 

Who is the New Cross Rider  John
Mike Kemp says: New Cross rider is Jeff Lloyd

 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 

Norman Jacobs' 1930s Photos

 
 

Larger than life Promoter Fred Mockford. Fred was in charge from 1934 until 1953

 

 
 

Joe Francis

 
 

 
 

Harry Shepherd

 
 

 
 

Tom Farndon

 
 
John says: Photos like the above shot of Tom Farndon look great.  The original photo was black and white, the photographer coloured the picture by hand
 

 
 
George Newton
 
 

 
 

Fred Pallett's
1949 Photos

 
 


 
Jeff Lloyd After His transfer to New Cross from Newcastle and Right, Ray Moore
 

 
 

Bill Longley &
Frank Lawrence

 
 

 
 
Two Photos Of
Ron Johnson
 
 
 

 
 
Is This
Bill Longley?
 
 
Tom Roe says: I am led to believe that this photograph is Bill Longley New Cross & Australia ? regards, Tom Roe formbyfalls
John says: can anyone confirm or deny that this is Bill Longley? John
 

 
 

Montague Joy's Badge 'n' Bars

 
 

This fine badge with 5 year bars belonged to Montague Joy who is sadly no longer with us.  Monty was a keen fan in the 1940's

 

 
 
Mick Mitchell
 
In Memory of Eileen Watson
 
 
 
Mick Mitchell
 
 

 
 
New Cross Riders 1940s
 
Courtesy John Hunter via Dave Rowland
 
Bob Andrews says: This is Ron Johnson coming into the pits at New Cross 1947-49
 

 
 
Phil Small's Photographs
 
 
 
 

Views of New Cross taken by my friend Phil Small. Speedway ceased in 1963 and the stadium closed down in 1969

 

 
New Cross Badge
 
Scan from Russell Earle
 

 
 
Fred Leavis
 
Courtesy of Jim Henry
 

 
 

Nobby Key

 
 

 
 
England At
New Cross
1948
 
 
John says: Can you name the riders and say what year it is? John
Dave Beecroft says: I have had a look at the England team needing details. I am afraid I don't know the year but I know all but two of the riders, viz; Back row - Unknown, Dent Oliver, Unknown, Tommy Price; Front row - Split Waterman, Alec Statham, Jack Parker and Norman Parker. I am sure many others knew this but it's a start
Col Greenwell says: Could that be Jeff Lloyd next to Tommy Price.?....The suit looks like Alec Jackson.
John Hyam says: The test team photo is 1948 at New Cross: first unknown rider is Ray Moore, the other further along the line is Jeff Lloyd.
 

 
 
England v Australia 1950
 
 

 
 
New Cross
1951 & 1952
 
 

 
 

George Newton

 
 
Send me an email if you can name this rider John
Hi John, The 'unknown' New Cross rider on your 'defunct tracks' site is in fact my late mothers favourite: George Newton. The photo is also on the front cover of Norman Jacobs book 'Out of the Frying Pan' the story of New Cross Speedway. Regards, Jim
 
John says: Thanks Jim, I have seen a couple of photo's of George and both show him to have been very spectacular. Here are the other 2 photos of George:
 
 
 

This has to be one of the best action shots you are ever likely to see!  I am becoming a George Newton fan without ever seeing him race!

 

Photo Courtesy of Alan Goldsmith

 
Alan Goldsmith  says: Dear John, Many thanks for your e-mail. I am attaching the picture of George Newton (see above), which, I am sorry to say, is the only surviving picture from my days as a fan/reporter. This particular card was with me through my days as a national service soldier in Trieste (1949-51) so it's not in bad condition considering all things. Incidentally, my time in Trieste was spent with the Forces Broadcasting Service and included doing commentaries on a couple of speedway meetings at the San Sabba (Italy) stadium where one of the stars was a German rider called Fritz Dirtl. He did appear briefly in the UK and was last seen at Harringay where he and his bike performed involuntary cartwheels down the back straight. My abiding memory of George Newton is a night at New Cross in 1951 when, having been a reserve during a match against West Ham, he won the reserves' scratch race and qualified for the first heat of the Millwall scratch race winning that, too, he qualified for the final which after a lap or so became a two-man race between Eric Chitty and George. Eric, the archetypal white liner, defended his lead until George, with the left end of his handlebars almost in the dirt, overtook him at the pit bend on the inside! The place nearly exploded. Sorry to ramble on, but at my age Memory Lane is such a seductive place. Thank you again for your website. With best wishes, Alan Goldsmith.
 
John says: Hi Alan,  This website is the ideal place for trips down memory lane.  Your memories of George and the San Sabba stadium are very welcome.  I have heard of San Sabba as a Nazi prisoner of war camp but didn't realise that after the war speedway took place there. fascinating stuff.
As I have already said, I am too young to have seen George Newton race but from the action shots of him that I have seen he must have been great to watch
 

 
 

More New Cross Memories

 
Bill Killick says:  I was a Fan up until the time I went into National Service 1951...which brings me to Alan Goldsmith...I was stationed in Trieste, but must have just missed him...I was at Betfor Signals Donadoni, with Trans and Rec at Rossetti Barracks. I used to have the British Broadcasting on and the American Forces Network all through the long nights at Rossetti. Tell him thanks for all the pleasure that they gave us as we eased our way through our Service. Oh and I also worked at New Cross dogs in the 60's as an Electrician. Dogs and Stock cars. I was there when we  won the World Cup so 66 it must have been. Miss the Speedway though, Boy all those Cinders and Castrol R..and Singing Marching Along together, as the St Johns men and women marched out  lol Great days...Had a Gas rattle early on and a Black and orange scarf.... thanks for the memories ..Geoff Pymar had the widest handlebars I have ever seen  lol  Bill Killick
 

 
 
Eric Williams
 
 

Eric Williams photo from Mike Kemp


 
 

New Cross 1960

 
 
Bob Andrew says: Hi John. Enjoying looking at the defunct Teams. The New Cross team is Manager? then Jimmy Gooch, Eric Williams, Leo McCauliffe, Reg Luckhust, Barry Briggs, Tommy Sweetman, Bobby Croombs, And Johnnie Hoskins.
 
John Edwards says: Hi John. Looking at your excellent site set me to digging out the old programmes I have from the brief period (1959-1961) when I watched speedway at New Cross. And, according to the programme, the man in the suit on the left in the 1960 team picture is Stan Hinckley (co-promoter). I guess the programme writers should know, though I wouldn't put anything past Johnnie Hoskins!

 
 
London Rivals
New Cross v Wimbledon
1961
 
 
 

 
 

New Cross 1963

 
 

 
 
Provincial Select v Southampton
 
At New Cross
 
26th July 1963
 
Courtesy Of Wattie Dunlop
 
Courtesy Of Wattie Dunlop
 

 
 

Bobby Dugard

 
 

 
 
New Cross v Newcastle Provincial League 44-34
 
21st May 1963
Courtesy of John Spoor
 
In 1963 a visit from a Newcastle team meant a visit of two of the Provincial Leagues best riders, big scoring duo Brian Craven and Ivan Mauger whom were good enough to trouble the home teams star men!
 

Des Lukehurst

 
 

 
 

Eric Williams Split Waterman & A Carlsson

 
 

 
 

Jimmy Gooch

 
 

 
 

Tommy Sweetman

 
 

 
 

2010 New Cross Talk-In

 
 
 
 

John says: A healthy turnout for a talk by author and speedway historian Norman Jacobs. Norman has contributed to my website on a few occasions, thank you Norman

 

 
If you can scan any pictures, programmes or badges send me an email John
 

The contents of the site are and should not be reproduced elsewhere for financial gain. The contributors to this site gave the pictures and information on that understanding.  If anyone has any issue or objections to any items on the site please e-mail and I will amend or remove the item.  Where possible credit has been given to the owner of each item.


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