Defunct Speedway Tracks


 
 

Wimbledon Speedway

 

Wimbledon Stadium, Plough Lane, London.  Plough Lane ran off and on between 1928-2005 at its peak it had few rivals in the speedway world.

 

 
Wimbledon's First Team   Billy Lamont   Plough Lane a Great Stadium   Wimbledon's Golden Era   England v Soviet Union 1974   Last Season 2005
 
 
Wimbledon's Great Speedway Stadium
"Plough Lane"
 
 

 
 
Plough Lane 1928
 

Courtesy of Adrian Pavey

 
John says: This is, I believe, Wimbledon 1928. I am guessing that the rider on the right is Frank Varey on a Scott or Douglas machine? The bike on the left could be a Harley Peashooter.  Tell me what you think John
Graham Brodie says: The picture under the 1928 heading is a Getty Images photograph. It is titled ' J.S.Sykes and W.Pinner dirt track racing at Wimbledon. 
Alan Goodman says: could these two riders be Eric Langton and Frank Varey?
John says: What an excellent photo! the bikes may reveal the answer on the left is what looks like a Harley and the right hand bike is so much lower, either a Douglas or possibly a Scot in which case Frank Varey is very likely
 

 
 
Wimbledon's
First Team?
 
 
John says: Can anyone put a year to this line up, Wimbledon League Team: Billy Lamont, Len Parker, Jim Kempster, Dick Forster? Dicky Case, Ray Tauser, cannot make out the guy's name at far right help please John
Bryan Tungate has been in touch he says: Hi John, you do pick them out!
I think this one goes back to the 1930 season. Del (not Dick) Forster is the chap in the middle and he rode for Cardiff in 1929. I think the guy in the suit could be Mr Cearns. The rider on the right is Mart Seiffert. He was there about 1929/30 time. Jim Kempster (Smiling Jim) was the England captain in the first 1930 test match v Australia when they started. in 1931 they had Vic Huxley and he is not on this photo so it is before then. Hope this is some good to you
John says: Thanks Bryan, I follow your reasoning, the photo appears to be 1930
Norman Jacobs says: The year is definitely 1930
 

 
 
Another Early Wimbledon Team
 
Courtesy of Jim Henry
 
Can you name any of these guys? I am looking for the year and names of this early Wimbledon line up John
Steve Baker says: Hi John, the Wimbledon team pic is from 1932 and the line up is as follows;
back row l to r, Nobby Clarke (trainer), Wal Phillips, Geoff Pymar, N.H.Pritchard (general manager), Gus Kuhn, Alf Sawford, Pop Cory(team manager)
front row l to r, Claude Rye, Vic Huxley, W.J. Kearns(managing director) and Syd Jackson.
Colin Greenwell says: Wimbledon photo. I am sticking with 1933,not 1932 as Steve has said. I have found the same photograph of this team in Speedway League Tables. Volume Two (by Maurice Jones. Speedway Surveys. )
See scan attached
 
Courtesy of Speedway League Tables. Volume Two (by Maurice Jones. Speedway Surveys. )
 
John says: mistakes are often made on websites (mine included) sadly, but mistakes can be made by authors of books too so who knows whether this line up was 1932 or 1933.  It was 81 years ago after all.
 

 
 
Billy Lamont
 
The "Cyclone"
 
 

Billy Lamont showing the quickest way around Plough Lane back in 1929

 
 

Billy Lamont in 1930.  The picture highlights Billy's Douglas DT machine.  Despite it's technical frailties compared to a modern machine.  I will bet these Douglas's were very fast!  At this time only the Harley Peashooter and the Rudge could give the Douglas a run for its money.

 

 
 
Ray Tauser 1931
 
 

 
 

Wimbledon 1931

 
Courtesy of John Chaplin
 
Can you email me with any names for these faces John
 

 
 

Claude Rye 1930's

 
 

 
 
North v South 1934
 

Front, back and centre programme pages from 1934 which was a "Fourpenny one".  I suspect it was more affordable to go to a speedway match in the 1930s?

 

 
 
Vic Huxley 1935
 
 

 
 
Wal Morton 1936
 
 
John says: I know that this is Wal Morton in 1936 sporting a black body colour.  Can anyone say which team Wal rode for in 1936?  John
Gary Thompson says: Hi John,just been looking through my records,and it seems Wal was riding for Wimbledon in 1936 as he had done also the previous year.
Nigel Bird says: Wal Morton. In black race bib. This is most likely a red bib as this colour can appear black on B/W photos. The star motif did not appear on the Wimbledon race jacket until 1937. Wimbledon used a Black RJ as an away strip at Belle Vue and vice verse early 1934
 

 
 
Wimbledon 1938
 
 
Steve Brown says: Hi John,  The Wimbledon team pic is from 1938. L to R : Wally Lloyd, Nobby Key, Benny Kaufman, Ray Taylor, Ronnie Greene (promoter), Wal Phillips (on machine), Eric Collins, Geoff Pymar, Nobby Clark (trainer), Wilbur Lamoreaux, Norman Evans.
Steve Baker also named the team so thank you very much the two Steves.
 

 
 
England v Australia 1948
 

1948 Test Match

 
England v Australia is always a spectacle, both countries are keen to put one over on the other.  In our league teams we love the Aussies riding for our teams in UK leagues but when we put on national colours it is all out battle.
 
 

 
 
Norman Parker
 
 

 
 

Mike Erskine

 
Courtesy of David Gibbison
 

 
 
Wimbledon
1952 Or 1953
 

Courtesy Thomas Sagergrim

 
Can you say the year and name the riders? John
Gordon Jack says: With reference to Thomas Sagergrim's Wimbledon team photo, the riders are: Back row - Don Perry; Peter Moore; Ronnie Moore; Barry Briggs; unknown Front row - Reg Trott; Geoff Mardon and Cyril Maidment.It looks like Cyril Brine's brother, Ted at the back between Moore and Briggs. Ted Brine was the team manager. The year would have been 1952 or 1953.I hope this helps - keep up the good work.
Sharon Brine (Teds daughter) says: it is my dad Ted between Ronnie and Barry

 
A Young
Ronnie Moore
 
 
Ronnie was the first of 3 New Zealand Riders to lift the world title.  He was followed by Barry Briggs and then both riders were eclipsed by the achievements of Christchurch's Ivan Mauger.
 
 

 
 

Basil Harris &
Cyril Brine

 

Picture courtesy of Steve Brown

 

 
 
Plough Lane
 A Great Stadium
 

Courtesy of Fred Pallett

 

 
 

A Young Ronnie Moore 1950's

 
 

 
 
Wimbledon's Golden Age The 1950s/1960s
 
With all due respect to riders before and after this period. The Dons in this era were very attractive visitors on their travels, whom you had to be at the top of your game to beat.
 
 

Ronnie Moore &
Bob Andrews

 

Picture courtesy of Steve Brown

 
 

Ron How
Gerry Jackson
&
Ove Fundin

 

Picture courtesy of Steve Brown

 

 
 
Trevor Hedge
 
 

 
 
Ronnie Moore
 
 
My source says this is Ronnie Moore which it may well be? but I have a few doubts!  maybe its just an odd camera angle making me think it may not be Ronnie?  Can you name the rider and say what his race jacket is, I presume it was a world championship event  John
 

 
 
Wimbledon Badges
 
Year Unknown 1975 1977
     
1978 1966 1975
 

 
 
Wimbledon Track Staff Around 1960
 
Photo Courtesy of Steve in Godalming
 
Steve says: Wimbledon track staff from around 1960. Names I know: Back row - 2nd from right - Jack Rackett, 4th from right  - Frank Lawrence, 8th from right - Denis Mills. Front row - 2nd from right Frank Bone.
 

 
 
Wimbledon Team 1966
 
 
1966 Wimbledon team can you name the riders?   The Star Jacket in black n white could be the Dons or Norwich and when I saw Olle Nygren on the bike I thought this was a Norwich team but decided it was Wimbledon. Am I right? John
Bob Bath says: l to r: Jim Tebby, Bob Dugard, ?,Vic Gooden (mgr), John Edwards, Reg Luckhurst, Trevor Hedge. On machine Olle Nygren
Steve Wilkes says: Photo at Belle Vue  Jim Tebby, Bob Dugard, Tony Childs, Vic Gooden (Manager), John Edwards, Reg Luckhurst,Trevor Hedge, Olle Nygren (leaning on bike)
 

 
 

Wimbledon v Newcastle 1967

 
 
Programme price 1shilling which for those of us borne in the 1970s or later is "Not Very Much" about 5p in current money.  The Diamonds may have had Ivan Mauger in their side on this visit to London.  Ivan rode at Wimbledon in the late 1950s but Dons didn't see his potential and let him go to Newcastle in 1963.  The rest you will already know.
 

 
 
1968 Team
 
 
Steve Baker says: Hi John, here are the names of the Wimbledon team from your latest ` name the rider` section picture. Standing left to right, Alan Cowland, Garry Middleton, Vic Gooden ( team manager), Reg Luckhurst, and Bob Dugard. On bikes left to right, Trevor Hedge, Olle Nygren and Jim Tebby. The year is 1968.
John says: Jim Tebby's handlebars look great

 
 

1968 Internationale

 
Antonin Kasper & Right Bengt Jansson
 
 

John says: The race jackets say this is Wimbledon for the Internationale and I know the year is 1968.  Can you name the riders John  The rider on the inside is gating the other rider is out of shape.

 
Phil Masters says: I recognised the photo of the 1968 Internationale as soon as I saw it, I recall seeing it in either Speedway Star or Speedway Post. Have every issue from about 1965 and have just been up in the attic to see if I could find it. Was right, it was in the August issue of Speedway Post 1968.The photo was credited to Trevor Meeks and the riders are named as left Antonin Kasper and right Bengt Jansson.
 

 
 
Wimbledon 1969
 
 

 
 
Olle Nygren
 
Courtesy of Roger Kirby
 

 
 
Reg Luckhurst 1970
 
 

 
 
Reg Luckhurst 1970
 
 

 
 
 Wimbledon v West Ham
Ken McKinley
Brian Leonard &

Olle Nygren
 
 

 
 
Geoff Hughes
 
 
Steve Wilkes says: The rider is Geoff Hughes of Wimbledon.
 

 
 
Wimbledon Badges
1974 & 1976
 
Scan from Russell Earl
 

 
 
England v
Soviet Union 1974
 
David Pipes has sent the following 13 images which he took at the England v Soviet Union Test Match at Wimbledon on 1 August 1974.
 
 
Photo 1 – Riders introductions – England team L-R  Trevor Hedge, Malcolm Simmons, Eric Broadbelt, Barry Thomas, Kevin Holden, Roger Johns and Laurie Etheridge.
 
 
Photo 2 – L - R  Malcolm Simmons, Martin Ashby and Trevor Hedge
 
 
Photo 3 – L - R  Kevin Holden – at rear Laurie Etheridge and Barry Thomas - in foreground  Left to Right  Roger Johns, Eric Broadbelt, Malcolm Simmons (bottom right corner)
 
 
Photo 4 – Left to Right  Barry Thomas and Laurie Etheridge
 
 
Photo 5 – Left to Right  Viktor Kuznetsov 6, Nikolay Kornev 2, Vladimir Gordeev 1 and Gregori Chlinovski 3
 
 
Photo 6 -  Start of race – Barry Thomas (Red) and Kevin Holden (Blue)
 
 
Photo 7 -  Martin Ashby (Red) and Trevor Hedge (Blue)
 
 
 
Photo 8 -  Leading Gregori Chlinovski (White), Eric Broadbelt (Blue) and Vladimir Nesterov (Yellow) – Malcolm Simmons (Red) at rear left suffering machine failure 
 
 
 
Photo 9 – Leading Trevor Hedge (Blue),  Vladimir Gordeev (White), Nikolay Korneev (Yellow) and Martin Ashby (Red) 
 
 
 
Photo 10 – Leading Gregori Chlinovski (White) and Vladimir Nesterov (Yellow) 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My thanks to David Pipes for the 13 scans shown above. 
 

 
 
Fallen Rider
 
 
Photographers occasionally capture an action shot in a split second, like this one.  I would guess that this rider is wearing a Wimbledon race jacket if you recognise the rider please email me John
Steve Baker says: Roger Johns
 

 
 
Chalfont Dons Badge 1983
 
Scan from Russell Earl
 
John says: The badge is from 1983. Chalfont means nothing to me. The badge shows a rider with a star on his race jacket so is this Wimbledon? Please advise if you know anything about this badge by clicking on my name John
Steve Brown says: The Chalfont Dons badge from 1983 is indeed from Wimbledon.  Chalfont Coaches (owned by then-Dons promoter, Chris Shears) were the team sponsor.
Steve Baker also says: With regard to your picture of the Chalfont badge, this is in fact a Wimbledon badge from 1983, as the Dons were sponsored by Chalfont that year, I believe if I remember correctly they were a coach company.
 

 
 
 Conference League
Action 2004
 
 
Steve Baker says:  James Theobald is in y/b on the outside, but I can't name the other riders. The meeting is at Conference League level circa 2004 and the track is definitely Wimbledon.
 
John says: I am puzzled by the helmet covers? Red and Blue are starting alongside each other as are White and Y/B so this isn't a team event

Jim Henry says: Guy in blue is probably Keith Yorke as you have a photo of him on his own further down the webpage.
 
John says: The Dons fans must be unhappy by the demise of  Plough Lane which was second only to Belle Vue in speedways hierarchy in my opinion.  In the 1950s/60s it was unthinkable that both Plough Lane and Belle Vue's Hyde Road circuits would both become Defunct Speedways.  However it has happened and speedway is continuing without major circuits like Plough Lane.
 

 
 
A Romney Falcon At Wimbledon
 
 
Steve Baker says:  I can`t name the rider though he is wearing a Romney Falcons race jacket who are based at the Lydd circuit , however the pic is not taken at that track
Brian Ford says: The track is Wimbledon, rider is Keith Yorke.
 

 
 
Peter Collyer 2003
 
 

 
 
Jason Prynne 2003
 
 

 
 
The End Is Nigh!
 

The Last Season (2005)

 
Mike Moseley's Photos
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My thanks go to Mike Moseley for sharing his photos of Plough Lane with us.
 

 
 
The End
 
This article, the first of 2 parts, was published in the South London Press on Friday June 7 1991 to coincide with the closure of Wimbledon Speedway
 
WIMBLEDON SPEEDWAY:
PART ONE:
The headlines read: Small crowds and huge losses mean that for Wimbledon Speedway it is the END OF THE ROAR
 
Wimbledon Stadium staged its final speedway meeting this week (June 1991) - after a colourful history which stretches back 63 years. In today’s South London Press John Hyam - who went to his first speedway meeting in 1946 - looks back at the magical moments which helped make Wimbledon one of speedway’s top clubs.   
 
THE lights dimmed on a south London sporting tradition this week when Wimbledon staged its last speedway race. After 63 years - interrupted only by World War Two between 1939 and 1945 - the tapes have risen for the last time at Plough Lane. Wimbledon was the sport’s oldest surviving speedway stadium - although fittingly perhaps last Wednesday’s visitors Belle Vue are speedway’s oldest club. Both clubs can trace their origins back to 1928, when the sport which started in Australia, spread to this country.  But although Belle Vue started a few months before Wimbledon, they moved to a new stadium in Manchester a couple of years ago.
 
During the 1980s Wimbledon’s future was threatened on a handful of occasions, but the sport survived at Plough Lane. This time though there is no knight in shining armour poised to bring a speedway salvation at the home of the Dons. At the end of the month, the club will start racing on either Fridays or Sundays at Eastbourne a track owned by 1960s Dons’ rider Bobby Dugard.
 
The Dugards have had links with Wimbledon since 1946, when Bobby’s father Charlie had a brief spell in Dons’ colours.  Ironically, Charlie’s Wimbledon career ended when he crashed with West Ham rider George Bason. The accident left both men with broken legs and happened only after they had been involved in an exchange transfer deal. For a couple of days before being sent home, they were in adjoining beds at nearby St George’s Hospital. In the late 1970s, Bobby’s younger brother Eric had a brief spell in Wimbledon colours - on loan from Eastbourne, which had been bought freehold by Charlie in 1947.
 
Bobby has given Dons a special low rent to continue operations at the Sussex track and they will be known as ‘Wimbledon at Eastbourne’ until the end of the season. The long term future of the club depends on how things work out during the next few months.
 
Wimbledon’s current troubles are a long way from the many years of speedway that has thrilled, delighted and amazed followers of the sport.  Some will say the rot at Plough Lane set in when spectacular young Swede Tommy Jansson was killed while competing in his homeland in a mid-1970s World Championship qualifying round. Tommy was a real personality who drew the fans, and after his death much of the magic and attendances went out of meetings at Plough Lane   There are others who will see speedway’s decline on the decision to switch from the high standard British League, with its colourful international stars, to the more domesticated National League in the mid-1980s.
 
On the other hand, had the club not lowered its standards and dropped down then, there may not have been a further six seasons of racing at Plough Lane.
 
Tommy Jansson’s death though was, in my opinion, the beginning of the end for speedway at Wimbledon - even if it took  some 15 more seasons for the end to finally arrive.  Tommy is not the only Wimbledon rider to have been killed on the track.  Back in 1937 Reg Vigor, who had been on loan to Wimbledon’s nursery track at Bristol, died in a horrific smash.  And in 1952, Italian-American Ernie Roccio, a great crowd pleaser was killed at West Ham.  Wimbledon have had links with American speedway riders since the mid-1930s, when Miny Waln and Byrd McKinney briefly raced for them in 1937. Then came the legendary Wilbur Lamoreaux, one of the sport’s all-time greats. He was later joined by New Yorker Benny Kaufmann - who could race as fast as he could talk!  Also another familiar figure around Plough Lane in the late 1930s was the dapper little Texan with the Spanish-sounding name Manuel Trujillo, who is still regarded as one of speedway’s most spectacular ever riders. And, unlike his fellow North Americans who pioneered the now conventional foot-forward style, Trujillo leg-trailed more spectacularly than anyone else.  When speedway restarted in 1946 after the war, riders were pooled and Wimbledon were allocated Oliver Hart, whose legtrailing broadsiding skill was enough to lift one’s heart into the mouth. Lloyd Goffe was another of the great, spectacular legtrailers who carved a niche in Wimbledon colours in the post-war seasons, before moving on for spells with Harringay and St Austell. In 1947, Hart moved on to Bradford in a three-way transfer that took Australian Bill Longley back to his pre-war club New Cross and their star Les Wotton to Wimbledon.
 
Originally published in the South London Press, on Tuesday  June 11, 1991: 
 
----------/----------
 
WIMBLEDON FEATURE:
By JOHN HYAM
 PART TWO:
The headlines read: "END OF THE ROAR"
 

John Hyam takes a final look back at the personalities who have graced the Dons' track

In its 63 years at Wimbledon Stadium, speedway produced many colourful personalities - some were big stars, others just honest-to-goodness personalities.

One such personality was post-war Dons’ rider Phil ‘Tiger’ Hart, who was born in nearby Balham and went on to become a millionaire.  In 1926, aged 16, he emigrated to Australia, saw speedway and took up the sport. He was with the first wave of Australians to arrive in Britain in 1928, and when England versus Australia tests started in the 1930s, Hart was selected for Australia - until somebody pointed out that he was an Englishman.  His spell at Plough Lane was brief, and he spent most of the pre-war years racing for tracks in the Midlands.  In 1948, Wimbledon paid Birmingham 1,000 for his transfer, but tragically in his first race back at Plough Lane, Hart crashed, broke his leg and retired from the sport.

Vic Duggan was an Australian who many claim was his country’s greatest ever rider, although he never won the World Championship. While his greatest triumphs were at another departed London track, Harringay in the mid-1940s, he started his British career with Wimbledon in the immediate pre-war seasons.

 Ivan Mauger was another of the sport’s greats who started at Wimbledon as a 16-year-old in 1956.   It was only six years later when Mauger returned to ride for Newcastle that he started showing the form which was to make him one of speedway’s great world champions.

 Ronnie Moore was another New Zealander who won the world championship. He came to England in 1950 with his father Les, also a rider.  Les failed to impress in trials at Plough Lane, but Ronnie became the club’s first world champion and one of Wimbledon’s best-loved stars.  While Les failed to get a Wimbledon place, he did form a unique team partnership with Ronnie at Shelbourne, on the outskirts of Dublin, which was Dons nursery track in the 1950s.  It was from there that Wimbledon found an outstanding Irish star in Dominic Perry - who quickly became known as Don Perry.  Shelbourne was also the training ground for another young New Zealander, Barry Briggs in the 1950s. Like Moore and Mauger, he also became one of speedway’s great world champions.

Another New Zealander who made a terrific impact on the sport in this period was Geoff Mardon - fittingly described as an ‘uncrowned world champion.’

In pre-war years - from 1929 to 1939 - in what was then the National League, Wimbledon made little impact on main events and only won the title once.   But in the 1950s and 1960s came their greatest run with seven championships over an eight season period.

Wimbledon’s move to Eastbourne in early 1991 has a parallel to 1948, when their own track temporarily based a ‘foreign team.’  It was the year of the Olympic Games, and for six weeks Wembley raced their home matches at Plough Lane.

In the heady post-war years, London derbies sustained speedway and Dons, who raced on Mondays, had regular away matches at West Ham (Tuesday), New Cross (Wednesday), Wembley (Thursday) and Harringay (Friday). The only ‘out of town’ matches were on Saturday, either at Belle Vue (Manchester) or Bradford.

Americans have always been popular at Wimbledon. In later pre-war years it was Wilbur Lamoreaux and Benny Kaufmann. In post-war seasons there was Ernie Roccio, Brad Oxley, Gene Woods and Bobby Ott. And pre-war came Canadians Goldie Restall and Crocky Rawding, while their fellow countryman the formidable Jimmy Gibb was a Don in 1949 and 1951.

Mind you, there have also been great English riders of world standard at Wimbledon. Post-war favourite Norman Parker for instance who in 1939 had been at Harringay with his brother Jack.  The latter was the big post-war star at Belle Vue and his tussles with Norman in the early post-war match race championship races were epic, no-quarter given events.  Stylish Midlander Alex Statham, another pre-war Harringay star, the Buckinghamshire farmer and publican Ron How who won his laurels in the 1950s, coupled with Dave Jessup, Bobby Andrews, Cyril Brine, Split Waterman are other Englishmen accepted as top stars.

 
John Skinner says: My thanks to John Hyam for the above memories of Wimbledon down the years.
 

 
 

Wimbledon 2006

 

The track was covered with tarmac and is used for stock cars

 
 

Pictures courtesy of John Hyam

 
 
John says: What a shame! London has had so many tracks like Wimbledon who have vanished from the UK speedway leagues.

 
If you have any photos etc please send me scans John
 

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