West Ham Speedway
 
Custom House Stadium, Prince Regents Lane, London Racing took place between 1928 - 1972
 
Lokeren Road Disaster    Aub Lawson    Tommy Croombs  Hammer Honor Blackman  Pre War Canada at West Ham
 
 
 
 
Custom House's "Art Deco" Gateway.
 
Courtesy of Reg Fearman
 

German Bombers over West Ham Stadium in 1940

 
 
 

 
Jack Bishop in 1928
 

Courtesy of The John Chaplin Collection

 

A great action shot.  This is Jack Bishop in 1928 powersliding his Harley Peashooter.  My site shows other riders wearing a similar white top over their leathers. Hey they look like a ladies blouse to me!

 

 
Pre War Canadian Team at West Ham
 
 

Custom House, West Ham: Can you say what year this picture was taken and also name the riders John
Terry Stone says: This is Team Canada, Eric Chitty is pictured with his little girl. Can anyone say the year and name the other riders.  I guess it's a test of your memory of Canadian riders names:

 
Bryan Tungate says: This photo I was informed was a line-up posed by Johnnie Hoskins for a publicity stunt. It was taken early 1938 at the Custom House, West Ham, track but this is not the Canada team that rode at Norwich or Sheffield at the time. (At Norwich the Canada team included 2 riders from Northern England  in the 8 who represented them). Eric Chitty and his daughter are those on the left of the photo and this photo was included in an early edition of the Vintage Speedway Magazine
Reg Fearman says: Canadian Photo :-  West Ham 1937 Eric Chitty with Carol Ann on the machine. All sitting on their machines are L/R Goldie Restall, Bob Sparks, Jimmy Gibb, Eddie Barker, Elwood Stilwell, George Pepper, Bruce Venier. The two standing at the back without crash helmets on the left is Englishman Butch Williams who raced at Dagenham at that time and for the West Ham Hawks, after the war he was in the West Ham workshop as a mechanic with Alec Mosely as supervisor and was Malcolm Craven's mechanic in particular, the one on the right is unknown to me. Cheers, Reg
T
om Marriott says: Looking at a better resolution photo of this I believe Reg has the first two riders mixed up the first is not Restall but Sparks and the second rider is Restall not Sparks.
 
 

1938 Canadian side

 
Reg Fearman says: This is the same Canadian team as the one on the Machines. L/R Back Row.  Goldie Restall, Eddie Barker, Bob Sparks, Elwood Stilwell, Bruce Venier. L/R Front Row.   George Pepper, Johnnie Hoskins, Eric Chitty with Carol Ann, Jimmy Gibb.
 

 

Charlie Spinks

 
 

 

Tommy Croombs

 

Courtesy of Ken Bailey

 

Fred Pallett says: Tommy rode for the Hammers from 1930 to 1939, and again in 1947.

 

 
Mick Murphy
 
Courtesy of Ken Bailey
 
Fred Pallett says: Mick Murphy - The photo should probably appear in the West Ham section as, in Norman Jacobs’ book “Speedway in London”, a rider of that name appears in a West Ham team photo for 1936.
 
1930s West Ham Badge
 
 

 
West Ham 1936
 
 
I only recognise Eric Chitty and Rol Stobbart.  Help please in naming this West Ham team and the year.  John
Terry Stone says West Ham 1936: Tommy Croombs, Eric Chitty, Broncho Dixon, Charlie Spinks, Tiger Stevenson, Johnnie Hoskins, Ken Brett, Bluey Wilkinson and Rol Stobart. Front: Arthur Atkinson, George Saunders, A young Ian Hoskins and Mick Murphy
 

 

Bluey Wilkinson

 
   
Bluey on board his JAP Bluey from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle
 

 

England v Australia

 
Courtesy of Tony Smith
 
I'm hoping you can help I'm looking for this image taken in 1947 2nd test match between England and Australia, the riders are Max Grosskreutz (AUS), Ron Johnson (Aus), George Wilks (Eng) and Alec Statham (Eng). england won the match 58 to 50, any pointer's to who may own the copyright, it's for a book and I'm trying to find the owner.  Many Thanks Tony Smith
So can anyone stake a claim of ownership of this fine photo?
 

 
West Ham 1947
 
Courtesy of Michael Page
.This photo is from 1947 and, left to right the people are, I believe: Unknown, Malcolm Craven, Cliff Watson, Unknown, Unknown, Cliff Parkinson, Eric Chitty (on bike), Howdy Byford, Unknown, Aub Lawson, Arthur Atkinson
Reg Fearman says: Stan Greatrex, Malcolm Craven, Cliff Watson, Bill Mathews, Benny King, Cliff Parkinson, Howdy Byford, Tommy Croombs, Aub, Akko.  Eric Chitty


 
Autograph Books With Strings Attached!
 

 


Such a novelty I bet it happened no where else
 

 
Phil Bishop
 
 
Great photo, leg trailing in 1947.  The wheel size diameter  was reduced a few years after this photo was taken.  Can anyone supply some info re this image? John
 
John says: At a guess this photo is pre war, don't know who it is or the team/track can you help? John
 
Terry Stone says this leg trailer is Phil Bishop anyone care to guess the year.  What is very noticeable is the larger diameter wheels.  I believe they were 22 inch until the 1950's when 18 inch wheels became the rule.  Does anyone know the score as far as wheel sizes go?
 
Reg Fearman says: Phil Bishop it is at West Ham circa 1946/47.   Rear wheels - they were 22 inch post war and the tyre most favoured was the Leapahead of which Fred Mockford the New Cross promoter had the patent, the Leapahead walls would shred and cause a puncture which was common. To overcome this many riders would cut an old inner tube and wrap it around the inner tube so protecting it.  The other tyre in use was the John Bull but the rubber was very hard and the depth of tread much less.  I believe it was not until 1954 that the 19 inch wheel was introduced and the tyre everyone went for was the Dunlop Trials Universal, one would spend hours cutting slots in the tread and cutting the leading edge straight after a meeting for extra grip.  During this period at one time a narrow tyre was introduced with very little tread. I raced on it but have forgotten the detail as it was only in use for a short time
Reg has been in touch again re tyres and has supplied the following image which explains the tyre situation
 
 

 
 Howdy Byford
 
 

 
West Ham Team late 40's, early 50's? year Unknown
 
Courtesy of Michael Page
 
Howdy Byford, Cliff Watson, Aub Lawson, Unknown, Unknown, Wally Green, George Wilks, Malcolm
Craven
Reg Fearman says: Howdy, Cliff Watson, Aub, Kid Curtis, Frank Bettis, Wally Green, George Wilks, Malcolm Craven.
 

 
 West Ham Team from 50's? year Unknown
 
Courtesy of Michael Page
 
Team from 50's?: Unknown, Bert Roger, Jack Young, Unknown,
Tiger Stevenson, Wally Green (??), Pat Clark (??), Malcolm Craven,
Unknown.
Reg Fearman says: Standing Jack Young, Tiger Stevenson, Pat Clarke  Ron Butcher, Bert Roger, Don Lawson, Wally Green, Malcolm Craven, Gerry Hussey.
 

 
Gerry Hussey
 
 

 
Jack Young
 
 
Picture TR5:  Can you name this West Ham rider sporting a golden/silver helmet? John
Reg Fearman says: Jack Young Golden Helmet
 
 

 

Eric Chitty Singing Sensation

 
 
Mike O Brien says: Dear John, a query, as a West Ham supporter in late 40s and early 50 I can recall? Eric Chitty singing on the mike during interval? Would this be correct or could it be some one else or a figment of my imagination. As I was only about 6 or 7 did I make it up. Also I have a West Ham badge. white city, which you would be most welcome to have. You've probably got those anyway regards Mike O Brien
 
Hi Mike, You will be correct in thinking Canadian Eric Chitty could be heard singing as well as riding at West Ham.  Eric did make a number of 78rpm records.  I know that Reg Fearman has at least two of Eric's discs.  As a rock n roll fan I doubt Eric's records would interest me but for people of the earlier era maybe Mr Chitty the vocalist, was cool!
Send me a scan of your badge and I will display it down the right hand side black border of this page. 
John
 
George Wallett says: Eric Chitty did make at least one record singing "When I grow too old to dream". He was also in the Wembley song that the fans used to sing - "Eric Chitty may be fine but give me Kitchen every the time."  Great web site JOHN , keep it going.  Regards George Wallett team manager Birmingham 1986.
 
John says: Hi George, thanks for adding to the "Eric Chitty singing sensation section".  You must be well proud of Birmingham's 2010 campaign.  The Brummies and my Newcastle have been great this year. Speedway needs characters like Eric.  I wish I had seen him race John . His bike has a metal piece on his right footrest.  This was to prevent the footrest from digging into the safety fence
 

 
Eric Chitty
 
 

Above photo of Ricky Chitty, courtesy of Brian Lincoln

 

 

Ghostly Leathers

 
Mike O'Brien Says: Hi John, another bit of speedway trivia. Sad but true. My dad worked with a bloke called Ted Ayers. whose brother was fatally injured in a novices race at West Ham I think his name was Harry Ayers. Ted lived in Greenford and kept his brothers leathers hanging in his garage right up to the time he moved in 67. 
 

 
West Ham's Training Track
 

Courtesy of Robert Rogers

 
There was a small training track in the grounds of the stadium, it was very small track, so that the riders could train using a smaller close track, as apposed from West Ham vast open spaces, and hopefully the last photo shows, with Hammers Junior and Canterbury Crusader, Barry Crowson.
 

 

1948 Cliff Watson

 
 

 
The Hammers 1949
 
 

 
West Ham v New Cross
 

Courtesy of The John Chaplin Collection

 
West Ham v New Cross (On the outside is Ron Johnson, Aub Lawson and Tommy Coombs at the back on the white line)
 

 
West Ham 1949
 

Courtesy of Reg Fearman

 

1949 Team
Update: Phil Masters says: Stan Greatraux (Promoter), Wally Green, Malcolm Craven, Howdy Byford,
 Eric Chitty, Trevor Davies, Cliff Watson, Kid Curtis, George Wilks, Frank Bettis, Reg Fearman. On bike is Aub Lawson

 

 
West Ham 1950
 
 
West Ham 1950, can you name the team John
Terry Stone says: West Ham 1950, Reg Fearman, Aub Lawson, Wally Green, Howdy Byford, Kid Curis,
? Atkinson Lloyd Goffe
Reg Fearman says: It is Arthur Atkinson and Trevor Davies next to Lloyd Goffe with Eric Chitty on the machine.
 

 
Aub Lawson
 
 
 
Three Photos Courtesy of Reg Fearman, Aub Lawson in 1947
 
Reg says: The three photos above are taken at West Ham in 1947 and the one other rider behind Aub is Wal Morton.  Aub used to go into the corner foot forward then at the apex drop his foot and leg behind. He turned foot forward a couple of seasons later when he realised it was faster and spent the winter in Australia perfecting his style.   Not a lot of people know that !!!
John says: Well now, loads of people know that Reg!  I must say these 3 photos look pre-war to me, but hey what do I know.  Aub must have been great to watch.
 

 
More of Aub Lawson
 
Courtesy of Anne Millward
 
Courtesy of Anne Millward
 
A Christmas card from Aub to Anne
 
   
Aub with Vic Duggan Aub with Pee Wee Cullum
 
Another excellent shot of Aub Lawson
 
 
Another excellent shot of Aub Lawson, this time leading Vic Duggan and England's Jack Parker
 

 
Ern Brecknell
 
 

Ern Brecknell 1940's/50's can you be more precise about the year? John

 

 
Don Lawson & Reg Fearman
 
Courtesy of Reg Fearman
 

 
Jack Young and Kid Curtis
 
Courtesy of Reg Fearman
 

1952: Jack Young and Kid Curtis

 

 

Wally Green

 
Courtesy of Reg Fearman
 

 
1953: Eric Chitty & Wally Green
 
Courtesy of Reg Fearman
 

 
Wal Morton
 

Courtesy of Richard Austin

 

 
Malcolm Craven
 
 

Malcolm Craven anyone care to guess the year? John

Bryan Tungate says: I knew I had seen that photo of Malcolm Craven somewhere before. I have just been looking through Stenners 1947 and found inside the back page (page 128) an advert for Ovaltine which uses that photo with the words "I'm a great believer in Ovaltine" says Malcolm Craven, West Ham speedway star. I would guess from the Stenners date of 1947 the photo was took in 1946. I couldn't say if MC actually drunk the stuff or not but he goes on to say - "it ensures sound sleep". This is one of the things my dad used to say so Malcolm must have been right I suppose. My dad always said he was right as well anyhow.
All the best
 

 

1954: Malcolm Craven in Gold Leathers

 
 

Courtesy of Richard Austin

 
The helmet looks like it has seen better days.  In modern days a new helmet is required if the old one has been dropped on the ground
 

 

Jack Young

 

Courtesy of Richard Austin

 

 

Howdy Byford

 
 

Howdy Byford and again does anyone know the year John

 

 

Gerry Hussey leads Arthur Forrest

 

 

Reg Fearman

 
 
 
 
Reg 1949
 

 
George Barclay and Tony Clark
 
Courtesy of Robert Rogers
 

 
Gary Hay
 
Courtesy of Robert Rogers
 

Gary Hay who sadly was paralyzed following a crash in Australia

 

 
Sverre Harrfeldt 1964
 
 

Sverre Harrfeldt 1964...Great Hair Sverre!

 

 

Hurri - Ken McKinlay

 
 
 

 
The Avenger
 

Courtesy of Terry Stone

 
John says: WSRA President Terry Stone has sent the above photo, showing the best looking rider ever to wear the Hammers colours!  I hope Terry will enlighten us but if you know the identity of the "rider" and the year, then please let me know! John
 
Bryan Horsnell says: Just been looking at your site and I can confirm that the West Ham picture is of :- Honor Blackman who made her name in The Avengers in the 1960's and was a real film, stage and TV star from the 1960's onwards. She still appears in films and TV plays to this day and will be 85 years 'young' later this year. My guess is that the picture, in her Hammers race jacket was taken around 1950. Regards, Bryan Horsnell (Member of the California Track Staff 1955 and 1956)
 
Terry Stone says: Yes it's Honor Blackman but can you name the film?
John says: I would guess that she was in "Once a Jolly Swagman".  Is that correct Terry?
 
Robert Rogers says: I seem to remember a copy of the Speedway Post back in the mid 1960`s showing a photo of if I remember rightly Honor actually in Action, being shown how to ride the West Ham track by Howdy Byford (?), I also seem to remember at the time saying she showed prospects of becoming a very good rider.

 


 

West Ham 1964 team

 
 

 

West Ham 1965 Team

 
 

 

West Ham 1966 Team

 
 

 

Malcolm Simmons

 
 

Malcolm remains as one of England's Greatest ever riders

 

 

Swede Bengt Jannson

 
 

 
Ray Cresp
 
 

Ray Cresp with what appear to be 2 rubber bands at the top of his forks.

 

 
 
 
 

 
West Ham 1969 Team
 
 

 
Tony Clarke
 
 

 
 
Gary Hay
 
 
Gary was left paralyzed after a track crash in Australia
 
 

 
Lokeren Road Disaster
 
 
 
If anyone has a photograph of Malcolm Carmichael, I would like a copy to include here with the rest  John
 
 
Steve Rushbrook says:  I have a photo (see above) of Mal Carmichael, the young Australian who was killed in the Lokeren Disaster. I have cropped The photo ( for your information - it won't interest the viewers!) originally included my mother and father. My father was involved at West Ham and knew Mal - we all went for a day out at Burnham-on-Crouch, which is where this picture was taken, just a couple of weeks before he died. A lovely bloke, too.
 
 
 

 
Sverre Harrfeldt c1970
 
 

 

First and Last Programmes

 

 
 
 
Courtesy of Robert.Rogers

Eric Chitty and Reg Fearman coming out of the pits gate

 
Martin Green says: Hi John, I did a little research last night into when the West Ham photo featuring the scoreboard may have been taken. The Race Results board depicts a heat result from 4th July 1950 when West Ham met Belle Vue in a National League match which ended in a 46-38 victory to the Hammers. Heat 12 was the heat in question won by (W)Louis Lawson followed by (R)Wally Green, (Y)Henry Long and (B)Trevor Davies in a time of 81.4. The next heat saw Dent Oliver win over Eric Chitty and Reg Fearman, whom as you mention, we see exiting the pits.
Thanks for a great interesting website,
Martin Green, Sheffield
John Says; Thank you Martin.  I set out to make the website interesting and with help such as yours it is!
 

 

Redevelopment of Custom House

 

Courtesy of Robert.Rogers

 
The Old Pits Area (If you compare it with the old picture, the pits is face on, this view is side on, but if you marry them up using the lamp Column and the pit light column you are more our less dead on), now a part of a housing estate, called Hoskins Close, named after the man him self John S Hoskins.
 

Courtesy of Robert.Rogers

 

Courtesy of Robert.Rogers

 

The old main gate area, now called Young Road, named after our Australian World Champion, Jack Young.

 

Map sent by Reg Fearman

 

 
Riders Re-union
 
 
I recognise: Terry Stone, George Barclay, Dingle Brown, Wally Green and Reg Fearman.  If you can name them all send me an email
Phil Masters has been in touch, he says: The riders are left to right, back row : Ted Ede,
Terry Stone, George Barclay, Dingle Brown, Stan Stevens. Front row: ?  Jack Geran, Reg Fearman, ?  ?
Can anyone add any names? John
Terry Stone says in the front row are: Mike Wood, Wally Green, Reg Fearman, Alf Hagon and John Guilfoyle.
 
West Ham Reunion Black Lion Plaistow West Ham.
 
 
 

Tom O'Conner Vic Gooden Howdy Byford Wally Green Archie Windmill.

 

 
West Ham Badge
 
 
 

If you have any photographs, programmes or badges and can scan them I would like to hear from you John

 

 
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