Defunct Speedway Tracks

 

 

 
Belle Vue Speedway
 
Hyde Road
Part 1
(The Early Years)
 
 
Zoological Gardens, Hyde Road, Gorton, Manchester, M12 5PX, This was the Aces home between 1929 and 1987. Manchester speedway fans were lucky.  The City had another stadium (Kirkmanshulme Lane) which served the Aces well  from 1988 to 2015
 
Acorn Dobson  Riskit Riley  Len Myerscough  Clem Cort  Frank Varey   Jack Parker  Ron Johnston  
 

 
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
 
The First Belle Vue Programme
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Mike Mosely writes: Belle Vue  (Hyde Road). The first meeting ever staged at the Zoological Gardens was on 23rd March 1929 when a rider named Arthur Franklyn won an open meeting titled 'The Golden Helmet'. The final meeting was on the 1st November 1987 when the Aces lost to Cradley Heath 41-37 in a British League fixture.  This in final night was in fact a double-header with Coventry taking to track first in a League Cup replay which the Aces won 40-38.
John says: Thanks Mike
 

 
 
Courtesy of David Pipes.  Poster from 1950
 
 
 
 

 
 

Courtesy of Phil Small 1987

Courtesy of Jack Babrovskie
 
A sign from Belle Vue that all fans hated to see.  Speedway is cancelled for ever at Hyde Road but we all know what it was like to turn up at our local track to be informed that the match was off.
 
Jack Babrovskie says: History: I acquired two of the boards after the track closed and gave them as Xmas presents to my two sons.......both still Aces fans)
 

 
 
Donald
"Riskit" Riley
 

John says: The following work on Riskit Riley was done by Jeffrey Stafford.  He is the owner of A Life of Riley and was happy to supply his work for my website.  If you want to copy any of it, check with Jeffrey first.  Only he can say if he will allow any of it to be used elsewhere.

 
The Story Of The Speedway Ace “Riskit" Riley
By Jeffrey Stafford

 
In the late 1920s, dirt track racing quickly established itself as a significant presence in the north west of England. The region’s first post war race occurred on 25th June 1927, at the newly constructed Moorside Stadium, Droylsden. This meeting was organized by Harrison Gill of the South Manchester Motor Club. Who was later associated with Belle Vue. The meeting was run on a banked cinder circuit with racing being in an anti-clockwise direction.  The owner was a local farmer George Dodd, his idea was to build a trotting track for his horses which he was racing at the nearby Snipe race track on Ashton Old Road, Audenshaw.  Trotting was a popular pastime in the district around Ashton as well as in Stretford and Old Trafford.  However, the local authority believed the Droylsdon track was much too dangerous, the quarter mile straight track allowed riders to get up too much speed to encounter the bends.  Operations were suspended at Moorside Stadium after the last meeting was staged on 20th April, 1929. It was at the half mile track of the Audenshaw Racecourse, situated behind the Snipe Inn that dirt track motorcycle riding really took off. The track was active from 1928 to 1931. By today’s standards the track and its safety features were very primitive, though this was not unique to Audenshaw at the time. Prior to the first meeting on 3rd March 1928, the track had been used for trotting and athletic events. The riders averaged about 35 miles per hour.  Prizes ranged from Gold Watches to Canteens of Cutlery, and Silver Cigarette Cases. Both Droylsden and Audenshaw were the breeding grounds for many of speedways rising stars.

The growing popularity of dirt track racing soon resulted in the construction of many new tracks designed specifically for racing motor cycles. Like the tracks at Droylsden and Audenshaw many were carved out of old cow pastures and fields. Some were located in natural amphitheatres with hill side standing. The new dirt tracks varied in configuration, with many continuing the half mile dirt track oval with variations of width, straight, curve radii, and a degree of dirt banking. Many tracks were designed by owners, promoters, and in some cases the riders themselves. At many of the early tracks, the racing action could easily overflow into the pits or into areas outside the track. There were two short lived efforts to stage dirt track racing at Spring Grove, Millbrook, Stalybridge; and New Mills Football Ground, Derbyshire.
 
It was not uncommon for riders to race at weeknight and at the weekend.  The prize money was not very good, and so many riders travelled from track to track to earn more, these riders quickly became household names and local celebrities. For many dirt track fans at early race meetings, the riders were heroes, and fans followed their exploits of their favourite rider on and off the track, just as football fans follow their favourite football player today. Many of the track events in the early years were devoid of press coverage, so apart from old programmes that have survived the test of time very little is known. The same names would appear in the pioneer years of dirt track race meetings. These included Ginger Lees, Frank Varey, Slider Shuttleworth, Clem Beckett, the Drew brothers, and Hyde’s very own Donald “Riskit”Riley. With a natural affinity for speed, “Riskit “would show his “stuff” whenever he sat behind the controls of a motor cycle, he was a real character on and off the race track and during the late 1920s and early 1930s  became something of a real folk hero in his home town.
 
Donald Francis Riley was born at 10 Hoviley Brow, Hyde, to James Riley and Clara Nuttall, who had married at Ashton Registry Office in 1890. Donald was the youngest of twelve children, seven sisters and four brothers, two of his sisters, Winifred and Clara died before Donald was born in December, 1909. Donald’s mother, Clara, died prematurely three years later in 1912, aged 41.
 
At the age of 35 James Riley opened a shop selling fruit and vegetables; this was the beginning of a thriving fruiter business which continued to flourish up until 1942 when ill health forced him to close. After finishing school, Donald entered the employment of his father, who in the weekdays carried on his business at 10 Hoviley Brow, but on Friday’s and Saturday’s, he also ran a fruit and vegetable stall on Hyde Market where young Donald and his brothers helped out. He began riding motor cycles at an early age and when dirt track riding became all the rage in the north of England he wanted to try it.  According to one old speedway pundit, Donald “Riskit” Riley got his first racing experience in 1928 as a fresh faced kid at the White City Stadium, Manchester. He would have been   about eighteen at the time. He was just Riley then, dragging a heavy Norton round and hoping for pot luck on the bends. That was until one day his father, James Riley, went to see him in action, and he wasn’t over the moon with what he witnessed. When Riley, senior, got home, he told Donald he wasn’t impressed with what he had seen, and told is son as much. “Call yourself a speedway rider! Why, you’re not fit to push them off!” Donald set his jaw. “Ain’t I?” he said. Look here! If you can win a heat, I’ll buy you a bike,” said Riley senior. Next time out Donald won a heat, and true to his word Riley senior stumped up the cash for a new Douglas. By no stretch of the imagination could you call young Riley a consistent rider. But when he got that spark of inspiration he was a match for anyone. It was full throttle to the line, with no thought of personal danger
 
The first use of Riley’s famous nickname is to be found in a Speedway Programme for a meeting at Audenshaw in 1929. He allegedly got his nickname riding the “Wall of Death” at Belle Vue, but whether this is true is open to debate. Inventing nicknames for riders, especially in the early days of the sport, such as “Riskit Riley”, was one way to sensationalise the sport. So when you’re a dirt track rider whose last name is Riley, and you’re taking spectacular risks on the dirt track, you really don’t have much choice: you have to be “Riskit Riley”.  The name stuck throughout his career and separated his fairly common name from the rest of the herd. “Riskit” wore a type of lace up metal shod clog which came up above the ankle bone. These acted like steel skates on corners. This was at a time when most of the early dirt track riders wore hob nail boots with a steel toe cap.
 

Speeding landed “Riskit” in court on more than one occasion.

 
The Hyde Reporter: Saturday 13th April, 1929 edition says:-
 
King Street Speedway
Dirt Track Rider Fined
 
Donald Riley, a fruitier, of Hoviley Brow, Hyde, well known in the district as the dirt track rider “Riskit” Riley, was summoned at Dukinfield Police Court on Thursday, for driving a motor cycle and combination in a dangerous manner
 
Police Inspector Murray stated that at 11-5 a.m. on Good Friday, he was on King Street, near the Queen’s Arms Hotel, when a motor cycle came along from the direction of Ashton. Visibility was bad owing to the fog, and it was impossible to see more than 80 yards ahead. When the motor cycle was approaching King Street and Wharf Street crossing the motor cycle combination, driven by Riley, came past at a fast pace. He put up his hand and the defendant pulled up over ten yards away. He told defendant he was driving too fast and asked him for his driving license. He was unable to produce it and stated he could not take it to the police station the same afternoon, because he was riding at White City, Manchester. The inspector replied “I think you are making this street into a practice track.” Inspector Murray added that in his opinion defendant was driving dangerously, and he trembled to think what would have happened if anyone had attempted to cross the street.
 

In reply to the defendant the Inspector said he estimated the defendant’s speed over the cross roads at 25 miles per hour. William Lees, of Church Street, said defendant never sounded his horn, and he agreed with the police that the speed was dangerous at that particular point. Defendant said he was only driving at 15 miles per hour, and he could have pulled up much quicker had he thought the Inspector desired him to do so.

 

Numerous speeding offences were recorded against Riley, Superintendent Brown stating that he had been fined 10 at Mottram and his license suspended for twelve months for dangerous driving. The magistrate now fined Riley 40shillings (2.00), and suspended his license for six months.  Defendant: Does that mean I cannot ride on the dirt track?  The Clerk said: You had better see a solicitor.

 

In 1929 Riley became acquainted with 19 year-old Mabel Kisswetter, the daughter of a German immigrant, they commenced a tumultuous relationship, climaxing in a March marriage, at Chorlton on Medlock Registry Office in 1930. Their son, James (Jimmy) was born in 1931. Jimmy is today  81 years old, and lives with his wife Margaret in Manchester.  Although Mabel had been courting Donald for the best part of a year, she had no idea that he had been having an affair with a girl from his home town of Hyde called Gladys Mottram. They had been seeing each other for about eighteen months,  going for motorcycle trips to Blackpool and the outskirts of the Hyde, where there were still many quite lanes and secluded spots for young courting couples.                                        

 

In 1929 “Riskit” established himself as one of the top young dirt track riders in the country. At Belle Vue Speedway track on Hyde Road on Saturday, 1st June he won the Golden Gauntlet, his first major prize

 
The  Hyde Reporter of Saturday June 8th 1929  had this to say:-    
 
    Dirt Track Racing
 
Riley’s Success At Belle Vue
 
Followers of dirt track racing will learn with pleasure of the success of Donald Riley, son of James Riley, fruiterer, of Hoviley Brow, Hyde, at Belle Vue Speedway on Saturday, when he won the Golden Gauntlet, his first big prize. “Riskit” Riley has he is known on the tracks, returned two of the best times of the night, 1/30.9 and 1/31.5. In addition to winning the Golden Gauntlet, he was also successful in the BelleVue Handicap. Riley is still only 19 years of age, and is said by leading speedway critics to have a great future on the racing track. Riskit climbed the podium for the second time on Saturday 20th July, when one of the largest crowds assembled at Belle Vue Speedway Stadium witness Riley give another display of supreme skill and speed in the mile race to win the premier prize, the golden helmet.
 
The Hyde Reporter had this to say:-
 

The Golden Helmet  
Riskit Riley's
Double Success

 
Donald Riley, known on the dirt track as “Riskit Riley,” of Hoviley Brow, Hyde, achieved further successes at Bell Vue Speedway on Saturday. In the mile race he won the premier prize, the Golden Helmet, given by the Manchester Motor Club, with a fine performance, in which all scratch riders took part. He is now regarded as one of the “stars” of the Belle Vue track, for Arthur Franklin and Frank Varey, both men of repute, are the only riders to secure this trophy. Riley the previous Wednesday beat Franklin, a very difficult thing to do.  In his heat Riley put up the fastest time of the evening, covering the mile in 1min. 28.4 secs.
 
He also won the Belle Vue Handicap in which there were some clever riders, he being the nly scratch man. He beat Hurricane Hatch and George Corney, of Halifax, who only recently returned from Hamburg. Riley a few weeks ago won the golden gauntlet also for the mile scratch race, but he has never ridden better than he did on Saturday.
 

His success is the more remarkable when it is pointed out that this is his first season as a dirt track rider, that he is only 19 years of age and has only been racing since March. He has completed against such well known experts as Frank Arthur, the Australian, of the International Speedway Company, and has won a good number of prizes. He is a fearless rider and keeps good control of his machine.

 

I think it’s fair to say that by the close of the 1929 Speedway Season, Riley had the speedway world at his feet. However, his burgeoning dirt track career seemed to rise in conjunction with his capacity for getting in trouble.

 
 
Former Hyde Road Dirt Track Rider Riskit Riley
Bound Over
 

Donald Riley, otherwise known as “Riskit” Riley, of dirt track fame and residing in Thorncliff Grove, Chorlton on Medlock, was bound over for 12 months at Manchester City police court, on Thursday, on a charge of having obtained 1 by false pretences from Mr. Wilfred Blundell of Smithfield Market.

 
It was explained that Riley went to Mr.Blundell and represented falsely that he had been sent for money by his father for motor parts.
 

Riley’s father said his son had done no work since leaving school. He had spent 200 in furnishing him with two motor cycles for dirt track riding.  For a time his son had done exceedingly well in that sport.  Answering his son, Mr.Riley said it was true that though he had won about 500 at Belle Vue last year he had to pay a mechanic 5 a week and his machines cost a lot in repairs.

 
His son had also got into bad company, and had concentrated debts by borrowing which he had to repay. On being appealed to by his son from the dock, Mr.Riley said he would repay the 1 mentioned in the charge. Riskit Riley was also fined 10s for having sounded his motor horn when not necessary on the grounds of safety.

Riskit’s freewheeling lifestyle finally caught up with him again a month later, when he his ex-girlfriend Gladys Mottram hauled him up before Hyde Police Court on a paternity charge.
 
 
“Riskit Riley's” Little
Blackpool Trip
 

A Girls Amazing Evidence!

 
Well known speedway rider Donald Riley, 15 Thornton Avenue, Oxford Road, Manchester, was the defendant at Hyde Court, on Thursday, in a case in which Gladys Mottram, age nineteen, 119 Croft Street, Hyde, applied for an order of paternity in respect of a male child born on August 23rd.
 

Mr.John Westbrook, solicitor, Hyde, appeared for the complainant. Mr.Harold Bostock, solicitor, Hyde, appeared for the defendant, who denied paternity.  Mr.Westbrook said that the defendant was a professional dirt track rider, well known in the town as “Riskit Riley”. He thought when the magistrates had heard the evidence that they would agree he showed a considerable amount of effrontery in denying the paternity of the child.

 
The parties first met eighteen months ago. Subsequently they met several times, and in October, 1929, the defendant and his friend met complainant and her friend-Miss Taylor, in Hyde, and they all went to Blackpool to see the illuminations in the defendant’s motor car. On the way back, on Belmont , intimacy took place.
 
Defendant lived in Hyde with his father, who was a well known tradesman, but left and she did not know his address. When he found that she was making enquiries about him, he saw her, and said “If I am the father I am the father, and we shall have to see how things turn out.” He said if he had not been married he would have married her. That was the first time Miss Mottram knew that he was married. He was married after the association with the complainant. Mr.Westbrook said that the defendant persuaded the complainant to see a person in Ashton who, he said, could do something for her.
 
On the Hyde Carnival night in June, the defendant went to see the complainant at her home, and told her that his wife was “expecting” and he did not want her to know anything about the matter. He saw her parents, and frankly admitted the paternity, and said that he would see what could be done when the child was born. Later he approached Miss Taylor, the complainant’s friend, on two occasions with the object of keeping her out of court. Once he offered her money if she would stay away from court or give evidence for him. She indignantly repudiated the suggestion. The clerk of the court: That is a rather serious offence.
 
 
The Woman In Ashton
 

Gladys Mottram then described the various meetings with Riley. She and her friend met Riley and his friend at Broomstair Bridge on the occasion of the Blackpool trip. Speaking of the visit of Riley to her home she said he sent a young woman to the door, and she came out to him. He said “If I am the father I am the father, but I can’t marry you, as I am already married.” He told her about a woman in Ashton , and she went with him. The woman told her that she was not the only one he had taken to her. On carnival night, when he went to her home, he said to her “Don’t forget if it’s a little boy, call it after me.” She replied “If it turns out to be like you I will drown it.” Riley left, and returned when her father and mother were at home. He asked her mother to lend him ten shillings and he would give her a pound for it the following Monday. Her mother could not let him have the money, and asked him what he thought about himself. He replied “I admit that it is my child.” She told him that he should have thought about that before he got married. He told her that he did not want to go to court.

 
Her confinement expenses, she said, were two guineas doctor’s fee two guineas for the nurse, and 23 shillings and sixpence for baby clothes. She had special nourishments.
 
 
Could Not Put Riley In The Witness Box
 

Mr.Bostock asked the magistrates leave to speak in private to his client, who was accompanied by his wife. After a short absence Mr.Bostock told the magistrates that after his conversation with his client he was not in a position to put him in the box, and he could not really oppose the order.

Kathleen Taylor, 3 Hall Street, Kingston, gave corroborative evidence. She said that Riley offered her money to stay out of court.
 
Mr.Bostock said that the case resolved itself into a question of means. Defendant as a dirt track rider was highly successful until twelve months ago. Since then he had not been riding regularly, and had only appeared at meetings on Sunday; there was no appearance money, and he had to win or get nothing. During the whole of the year he had won 32.00 in prize money, and had to borrow a motor cycle to appear. His agreement with the owner was for half the winnings, and he had to bear half the cost of repairs and conveyance. His net earnings were 3 10s for the period. He was not in the employment of any dirt track company. He was married on 4th January this year, and had resided with his wife and her parents for nearly the whole of the period, and was dependent for his keep on his wife and her parents. He was doing some work on Hyde Market, but had not a regular wage, and his receipts from that source did not amount to more than ten shillings per week.
 

Mr.Westbrook said that in view of what Mr.Bostock had said, he was entitled to point out that during certain proceedings in September, the defendant stated in court that his earnings last year from dirt track riding were 500, and he had to pay 3 per week for a mechanic out of that. 

 
The magistrates made an order of 10s per week until the child reaches 16 years of age, and allowed 8 expenses and two guineas advocate’s fee, and witnesses expenses.
 
After the scandalous revelation that he had fathered an illegitimate child and tried to procure a back street abortion in Ashton, Riley’s personal difficulties increased.  His stormy tempestuous union with Mabel Kisswetter ended on the sharpest of rocks. He was pursued through the court for years for child maintenance, and in May 1931 sent to prison for fourteen days for obtaining 5shillings by false pretenses, with intent to defraud. The Chief Constable said Riley was a married man living apart from his wife and they were holding over a commitment in respect of arrears under an affiliation order until after that case was heard. Riley was very unsatisfactory and had previously been bound over on a charge of false pretenses.
 
Donald Francis “Riskit” Riley died in 1951 in Manchester, a lonely, broken man – estranged from his family and speedway, he was 41 years old. A sad ending to a remarkable but troubled life.  It was his inability to separate his domestic problems from his professional speedway career that prevented him from reaching his true potential on the dirt track.
 
Although it is seventy plus years since “Riskit” stood selling fruit and veg on Hyde Market for his father, he is still fondly remembered by many old Hydonians. Hyde’s produced several so called sports personalities: swimmers, soccer players, athletes and boxers, but all pale in comparison to speedway ace Donald “Riskit” Riley, on and off the track he lived his life to the full, he was the Errol Flynn of speedway. Though his speedway career may have been relatively short, he is still fondly remembered as one of the most colourful characters from the early days of dirt track racing in Manchester.
 
John says: My thanks to Jeffrey Stafford for supplying the above account of Riskit's life.
 

 

Sylvia Wheeler (nee Collier) says: -Hello Mr Skinner, I have just been  reading about Riskit Riley the Motor Bike rider at Belle Vue in the late 20s and early thirties.  My father was always talking about Riskit Riley, he said that he was Riskits mechanic and always repaired his motor bikes. I assume that my father James (Jim) Collier was the mechanic who was paid the princely sum of 3.00 per week.

 
My father Jim Collier and his father James Henry Collier who was an overlooker at Ashton Brothers in Hyde along with Jack his brother, opened Colliers Garage in Dukinfield in 1927 and the family business in which their children also worked in the 50s, closed down due to ill health in 1984.
 
I have been looking on the net for information about Riskit Riley as my father only ever told us very briefly about those times, he always said that Riskit was a very likeable rogue.  Dad took us regularly to Belle Vue speedway in the 50s, which we used to really look forward to every every Saturday night.  Dad died in 1987 aged 84 leaving a lot of curiosity in the family as to what he had done prior to opening Colliers Garage.  Your article on the web answered some of the things that my brother and I didn’t know about, and if you have any further information or possibly a photograph of Riskit that you could send online it would be very much appreciated.  My son in Law has been doing our family tree on line for a number of years, and we really know very little about his life in his younger years
 
My brother Roy still lives in Glossop but after living in Dukinfield for 74 years, my husband and I moved to Rhos on Sea, North Wales 3 years ago.
I look forward to hearing any other information you might have. 
Sylvia Wheeler (nee Collier)
 

 
 
Syd Newiss
 
 
Syd Newiss breaking the Belle Vue track record in 1929
 

 
Belle Vue Programmes 1930/31
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
Stanley "Acorn" Dobson
 
 
 
 

 

This is Stanley "Acorn" Dobson. can you supply any info on him?  I understand the Acorn nickname came from the shape of his head! John 
Colin Greenwell has supplied the cigarette cards which supply us with the following information on Stanley Dobson 
 



 
 

Bob Harrison

 
 
Card supplied by Colin Greenwell
 

 
 

Len Myerscough

 
 
 
This is Len astride a Rudge, photo circa 1930
 
 
Len with a Douglas

 
Another picture of Len and a Rudge
 
 
 
Another photo showing Len with a Douglas

 
Len on what appears to be a Velocette
 

 
Laurie Anne Faulkner says: Hello John,  I am looking for information and photos on Len Myerscough to add to a tribute we are writing about him and his son John Myerscough who has recently passed away - please see my enclosed photos and contract that I have come across at his son's John L. Myerscough's home in Lancashire when my husband was there in November 2013 to deal with his estate - Len's other son David is my father-in-law and we do not really have much information on this huge part of Len's earlier life-  He owned Myerscough and Sons in Liverpool.  
 
John Myerscough had a large collection of vintage motorcycles which he rode and displayed in parades  TT classic etc, some were Len's originally we believe.  If you have any information to share we would be grateful.  We have heard that he had a crash at some point and was in a comma for 2 weeks in hospital, but cannot find any information on this!   
Thank you for your help, I look forward to your response,  regards, Laurie Anne 
 
John Skinner says: The images in this section have been supplied by a relative of Belle Vue rider, Len Myerscough His relative, Laurie Anne is hoping that someone will see this item and be able to supply further pictures or information on Len or his son John Myerscough.  So send me an email /images if you can John 
 

 
 
Belle Vue Team 1930 
 


 


 

Again I assume Len Myerscough is one of these?  If you can supply names email me please John
 



Len's licence to drive a motorcycle issued May 1928

 

 
 
Clem Cort
Steve Mackenzie's 1930 Photograph
 
 
Steve says: Hi John, Sorry to bother you. I have recently learnt that Clem Cort was my Great Uncle. I have done a bit of research and found out about the unfortunate accident possibly in Uruguay 1930 in which he was killed. From what I have found it is a real shame because he seemed to be going all the way as some of his Belle Vue team mates did after his demise.  I think he is 2nd from right in this photo and I have seen that he also made it on to a 1929 cigarette card series!
John says: Yes I confirm that 2nd from the left in the above photo is your Great Uncle Clem.  I also had the 1929 cigarette card you refer to, which I have copied below.
 
 
 
Steve says: I can't seem to find any more info on Uncle Clem and was wondering if you could send me in the right direction, books articles, pictures, etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Steve Mackenzie.
 
John says:  Can anyone supply any info on Clem Court, for his nephew Steve.  If so please email me John
 
Col Greenwell has sent me an excerpt from Frank Varey's book "The Red Devil" which is a sad account of Clem's death. The book scan follows below: -
 
 
These scans come from an old book El Diablo Rojo. Which translates to "The Red Devil" (Frank Varey)
 
 
An excellent image of Clem
 

 
 
1933  Belle Vue Team

 
Courtesy of Richard Austin
 

 
 
Belle Vue 1934
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
Belle Vue 1935
 
 
Bill Kitchen, Max Grosskruetz, Eric Langton (on bike) Eric Blain, Bob Harrison, Joe Abbot & Tommy Allott
 

 
 
A Great Photo
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
One of the best action pics on my website!  It appears to have been taken from the spectators view of things by my mate Archie Cooper.  I presume this is Belle Vue.  Can you name the riders? No! neither can I
 

 
 
Belle Vue's 1,000th Meeting 1959
 
 
 
 
Frank Varey with his famous Scott Speedway Bike.  The engine appears to be running as the rear wheel spokes are not visible and the rear wheel is off the ground.
 
 
Belle Vue Legends Syd Newiss and Jack Parker 1959
 

 
 
More of Graham Gleave's Photos
 
All courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Many familiar faces in the above Belle Vue team photos. Bottom right Jock Grierson, Ken Sharples and Ron Johnston
 
 
Graham Gleave Photo's Continued..
 
 
Louis Lawson
& Ron Mason
 
 
 
Bill Rogers & Charles "Pee Wee" McCullen
 
 
 
 
Above Photos: Left, Slant Payling F Johnson T Robinson Lou Grepp &
Right Dent Oliver Louis Lawson Ron Mason and Jack Parker
 
 
Dent Oliver &
Split Waterman
Chris Balley     
 
      
 
 
1955 World 1 2 3
 
 
World Champion Peter Craven flanked by Ronnie Moore & Barry Briggs
 

 
 
Ken Sharples & Peter Craven With
FIM Medal
 
 
 
1960s Belle Vue
 
 
Graham Gleave says: Left to right, B Powell, Unknown, S Sjosten, D Fisher, C Maidment, N Nevitt, G McGregor & J Yacobi
 

 
 
Graham Gleave's Collection Of Badges & Year Bars
 
 
The owner of the above collection should receive a medal from Belle Vue!   The picture badges from the top are Eric Langton, Bob Duckworth, Ron Johnston, A Wright, Danny Dunton and G Smith
 

 
 
1936  Belle Vue
 
 
 
Can you name the riders John
Update: Barry Stephenson has been in touch he says: Bill Kitchen, Max Grosskreutz, Oliver Langton, Acorn Dobson, Tommy Price, Joe Abbott, Bob Harrison, Frank Varey and sitting  Eric Langton
 


 
Frank "The Red Devil" Varey
 
 
Courtesy of Ted Hearn
 
 
In my lifetime there was only one "Red Devil". He wore red leathers, Mike Broadbanks, Was Frank Varey wearing Red Leathers before Mike? John
I have received the following items from Colin Greenwell:-
 
 

Book published 1937

 
 

Courtesy of Colin Greenwell

 

Frank Varey no longer riding his red Scott machine having switched to the better JAP machinery, so he was no longer The Red Devil!

 
 
Oliver Hart &
Frank Varey
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
One Of The First World Championship Rounds At
Belle Vue 1936
 
 
This was 1936 and prior to this year the World Championship didn't really exist. The riders in this picture were drawn from around the British tracks.  I asked for help in naming the riders and received the following with thanks:-
Barry Stephenson has been in touch and has supplied the following information: -
This is the Speedway Championship of the World Championship Round  held at Belle Vue on 8 August 1936  i.e. the first year of the World Championship.
 
The sixteen riders were as follows    NOT IN ABOVE PHOTO ORDER! 
 
Joe Abbott  5 Jack Milne 8
Frank Charles 10 Mick Murphy 2
Eric Chitty 3 George Newton 13
Jack "Bronco" Dixon 4 Wal Phillips 8
Bob Harrison 12 Rol Stobart 1
Vic Huxley 8 Bluey Wilkinson 7
Ron Johnston 9 Reserves:-  
Gus Kuhn 0 Bill Kitchen 6
Eric Langton 15 Gordon Byers 2
H R "Ginger" Lees 7    
       
 
Now for the photo. Names from the rear left 
Eric Chitty, x Gordon Byers, Bluey Wilkinson leaning on rider, Bob Harrison,x, Eric Langton, Frank Charles, Jack "Bronco" Dixon, Gus Kuhn
Front Row-
x, Jack Milne, George Newton, Rol Stobart, x Mick Murphy
Joe Abbott is not on the photo. That leaves Huxley, Johnson, Lees, Murphy and Phillips to be identified
Barry
Thanks Barry now we need someone to fill in the blanks John
Trevor Chater says:- The last person seated on the front row on the right as you look at the photo is Mick Murphy.
 

 
 
Eric Langton & Lionel van Praag Vic Huxley &
Eric Langton
                      
 
 
 
Eric Langton &
Jack Parker
 
 

 
 
Belle Vue Merseysiders 

 
Courtesy of Nigel Trafford
 
No details of the above photo known.  Can you say the year the team (I think Liverpool) and the riders (although I am told both Ernie and Tommy Price are in there.) John
John Hyams says: My opinion is that the team photo is from 1937 when Liverpool were in the Provincial
League and based at Stanley Stadium. Both Tommy and Ernie Price were members of that team. Others would have been Eric Blain, Jack Hargreaves, Stan Hart, Alan Butler and Charlie Oates. I cannot identify if any of them are in the particular team photo. The team later moved to Belle Vue but raced as the Belle Vue Merseysiders.
Col Greenwell says: From  the book, (Manchester Speedway 1927-45) the photo is of Belle Vue Juniors from 1937 and the riders are Tommy Price, Len Eyre, Charlie Oates, Stan Hart, Oliver Hart, Eric Blain, Ernie Price, Alan Butler.
John says: So the team is the Belle Vue Merseysiders and the riders are named now
 
 
Belle Vue Merseysiders
v Birmingham
 
12th August 1937
 
 
 

 
 
Belle Vue v Newcastle
The Union Cup
 
23rd August 1939
 
 
 
Visitors Newcastle Diamonds were at Hyde Rd on cup duty in August 1939. Little did they know that world war 2 was just a few days away.  The Diamonds were leading division 2 when war stopped the sport in its tracks.
 

 
 
Ernie Price
 
 
Courtesy of Nigel Trafford
 

 
 
Tommy Price
 
 
Courtesy of Nigel Trafford
 

 
 
Jack Parker
 
 
 
 
 
 

Aub Lawson & Jack Parker
 

 
 
Split Waterman &
Jack Parker
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Split and Jack fierce rivals on the track and best of friends off the track
 
 
Jack Parker &
Max Grosskreutz
 
 
Courtesy of Kevin
 
A signed photo "Max Grosskreutz", I guess he is on the inside.  Can you confirm and say who the other rider is and what year? John
Mike Kemp says: Max on the inside of Jack Parker.
Bill Walsh says: Max is wearing an Odsal bib and his last season there was 1947 so that narrows it down to a couple of years. I hope that helps. Cheers. Bill.
 
 
Louis Lawson
& Jack Parker
 
 

 
 
Hyde Road 1940's
 
 
 
1946 Salford Flood Relief
 
 
 

 
 
Belle Vue
Mascot(s)
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Most riders are good with the fans but not so many are good with fans kids.  I imagine "Uncle Jack" was good with youngsters.  I think the mascots shown above are of the same lad?  He is wearing the same helmet.
 

 
Belle Vue Juniors 1947 
 
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave 
 
The "Juniors"!  hardly a bunch of teenagers eh!  A good shot of the long stroke JAP engine, thank you Graham for the photo.
 

 
 
Bruce Semmons
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Looking for the name of this Belle Vue rider John
David Pipes says: I think that the “Belle Vue” rider shown on your website is Bruce Semmons from 1949
 

 
 
Belle Vue Team 1940's
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
Belle Vue 1951
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
 Wally Lloyd
 
 

Courtesy of Kevin

 
Was Wally Lloyd & Jeff Lloyd the same guy?  John
Mike Kemp says: No they were brothers
 

 
 
 

 
 
 Split Waterman
 
 
 

 
 
Belle Vue Speedway Dance
 
 
Sender unknown
 
John says: The source of this picture is unknown, lost the name of whomever sent it. So if it was you, send me an email and I will put your name here with your picture.
 
Unknown sender says:  Please find attached my photo of Ron Johnston & Louis Lawson Taken at Belle Vue with my late sister Dorothy Frith & her friend Lily Thomas.
It must have been in the late 1950s I think.  Looks like a good time was had by Ron & Louis & I know my sister Dorothy had this photo & lots of news cuttings all over her bedroom wall in the 50s! You may use it for your site & If either riders are still with us, give them a laugh & show them please.
 

 
 
Belle Vue 1952 

 
 

Belle Vue 1952, can you name the riders John

 

 
 
Belle Vue Win The 1957 Britannia Cup
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
Ron Johnston
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
 
Ron Johnston's Photographs
 
Ron Johnston (born 31 December 1930) in Dunedin, New Zealand is a former rider who rode for Belle Vue Aces. Ron began riding at the Tahuna Park track in Dunedin New Zealand in 1949. He moved to England in 1950 and joined the Belle Vue Aces. In his first season he was at first loaned out to the Belfast Bees and then to Sheffield Tigers before establishing himself as a member of the Belle Vue team. He captained the Aces from 1957 until his retirement at the end of 1961. Under his captaincy Belle Vue won the Britannia Shield three times, and the Daily Mail National Trophy in 1958 He also rode in four World Finals (1955, 1957, 1958 and 1960) during his career finishing a best 5th in the world in 1960.
 
My mate, Reg Fearman met up with ex Belle Vue rider Ron Johnston, during December 2009.  Reg asked Ron if he had seen this Defunct Speedway website and if he had any photos he would like to show via the Belle Vue page.  The result is shown below.
 

Ron says: Age 79 31/12/09 Born Dunedin 1100 clock 31/12/31 if born an hour later I would be a year younger !1949/1950 season when the speedway started in Dunedin at Tahuna Park Ron Mason who road for Belle Vue was hired to teach us how to ride speedway which he did and he said to me if I could ride 4 laps flat he would teach me how to ride which I did he then asked the crowd to take a collection to send me to England (they collected 100 Pounds) and he would look after me when i arrived in the UK . I arrived at Southampton (Bob MacFarlane and Frank Boyle who road for Oxford) met me and took me up to Fazeley near Tamworth Staffs where Ron Mason was living and owned a Transport business. on the Saturday he took me up to Belle-Vue and after a practice I was signed up to B-V Miss Hart was in charge then and sent me over to Belfast to ride as there was a rule that only one  or two over seas riders per track after about three weeks in Belfast Miss Hart rang to say she wanted me to ride at Sheffield as Jack Chignale got hurt and I was to take his place after about four weeks she wanted me at B-V as Peewee Cullum got hurt and I stayed at B-V until I retired in 1961 I travelled back and forth to NZ 3 years in 1954 I bought shares in a transport business called A Fletcher & co which I managed while riding speedway at the same time it kept me busy when I retired in 1961it was one of the largest and successful transport business in the midlands I sold out in 1969 and returned to NZ 
Ron says: Most of these pictures were taken by my good friends Wright Wood and Tom Allen who were always in the inner side of the track at Belle -Vue while the racing was run.

 
 
Ron Johnston Aboard His First Motorcycle
 
 
 
Ron Johnston Leads Jack Geran
 
 
 

Ronnie Moore,
Cyril Bryne &
Ron Johnston

 
 
 
Ron Mason, Mona & Ron Johnston
 
 
Ron Mason, Mona and Ron Johnston.  Ron Mason was the guy who arranged for Ron Johnston to come to the UK.  Mason was on Belle Vues books and Johnston was signed up by the Manchester club and loaned out when he arrived on our shores.
 
 
Peter Craven & Tink Maynard Taking Tea
With Josie
 
 
 

Ron Johnston Flat Out On The Beach

 
 
Ron Johnston flat out on beach this was riding against Bert Munro of the Worlds Fastest Indian fame!  We used to beat Bert, because he broke down a lot!
Ron says: John the bike on the beach was a 500cc Ariel.  I ordered it in 1946, it took 18 months for delivery in those days when it arrived in 1948 it had twin pipes I ordered it with a single pipe but I had to accept it or wait another 18 months for delivery.  I can't remember the exact top speed but it was around 100mph mark with about 10% drag on the beach.
John says: Old Bert's ancient Indian was faster but it had a much bigger engine than your Ariel.  I have the DVD of Bert Munro and his ancient American speed machine, The Worlds Fastest Indian. So you and old Bert were acquainted.  "How cool was that"?
 
 
Ron Clarke
 
 
Ron Johnston's picture of yet another Ron in the Belle Vue camp.  This guy is Ron Clarke
 
 
Ron Johnston Going Sideways At Speed
 
 
Da doo Ron Ron!
Ron Johnston &
Ron How
 


 
Ron Johnston
 
 
If you can name them please email me John
 
 
Dick Fisher &
Ron Johnston
 
 
 
Ron Johnston
Winner Of The
Johnnie Hoskins Trophy
 
 
 
Ron Johnston Says "This Was Our 1950 Team I Think"
 
 
Ron Johnston says: This was our 1950 team I think? Ken Sharples ? Val Morton, George Smith, Jack Parker on bike Ron Johnston, Henry Long, Ron Mason & Louis Lawson
 
 
Ron Johnston Captained This Aces Team
 
 
Ron captained this Aces team, with a very young looking Peter Craven at far right. Can anyone supply the rest of the names John
Ron Johnston says: Peter Williams Dick Fisher Edie Rigg Bob Duckworth Ron Johnston on bike Slant Payling Peter Craven
John says: Bob Duckworth and Slant Payling joined my local team the Newcastle Diamonds.  I believe Slant got his nickname because his handwriting had a pronounced "slant"
 
 
Ron Says "Me! & I Think, Henry Long, On The Outside"
 


 
Another Aces Team Line Up
 

 
Peter Craven front left. Can anyone supply the other names John  Ron Johnston says: Ken Sharples Ron Johnston Fred Rodgers Bob Duckworth: Front: Peter Craven Dick Fisher & Peter Williams

 
Tractor Ride For
The Winning Aces

 

 

Belle Vue showing off one of their many trophies Can anyone supply the other names John

Us older fans will remember the winning team parading on the tractor, Health and Safety hadn't been invented then.  Now this is considered too dangerous a way of celebrating a win!  I presume they all had safety on their minds and moved so the tractor rider could see where he was going

Jack Babrovskie says: Names for Britannia Shield winners photo on your site: ‘Tractor ride for winning Aces’. Season was 1960.  Bob Duckworth/Gote Nordin/Tony Robinson/Dick Fisher/Arthur Wright/Ron Johnston/Jack Kitchen/Peter Craven
 
 
Ron's Scrapbook Item

 

 
 
Ron Mason Getting
Too Much Grip

 

 
This Ron was the man responsible for Kiwi Ron Johnston coming half way around the planet to join Belle Vue.  I wonder if Ron Mason was hurt seconds after this photo was taken?

 

 
Ron Johnston

 
 
Belle Vue 1953
 
 

Can you name the team John

Ron Johnston Says: Bob Fletcher Louis Lawson Bob Harrison Jack Parker Johnnie Hoskins Ken Sharples  [Back row] Willy Wilson Peter Craven Harry Edwards Ron Johnston
 
 
Ron Johnston
Collecting The JAP Trophy 1949
 
 
 
Ron Johnston Leads Eric Boothroyd
We Think!


 
 
Ron's Picture Of His Friends Jack & Norman Parker


 

Jack Parker,
Ron Johnston &
Ron Mason



 
Ron Johnston v Southampton
 
 
 
Peter Craven &
Ron Johnston
 

 
My thanks to Belle Vue's Kiwi Ron Johnston for supplying the many photographs shown above.



 
AstoriasTrophy 1953

 
John says: Reg Fearman sent me the above picture.  Reg says: You will know the riders except maybe for the one on the end who is Sune Karlsson of Sweden.

John says: Thanks for the vote of confidence Reg in my ability in naming riders who were on the go when I was 1 year old!  I don't want to guess names as I don't like having egg on my face.  So over to the websites devotees.  I am looking for the riders names and the ladies phone number but oh! she will now be in her 80s eh? so scratch my last remark.  John
 
Steve Brown says: Hi John, From left to right the riders are : Louis Lawson (2nd - 12pts), Ron Johnston (1st - 13pts), Ronnie Moore (joint 3rd - 11pts), and Sune Karlsson (joint 3rd - 11pts). Not sure why Mr Fearman felt that he had to name Sune Karlsson, though. The meeting was held on Saturday, May 23rd 1953, and the last race of the night was a novice race called the 'Fag End Flurry'! How very un-PC...
 
 
Ken Sharples 1954 
 
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Ken's Mechanic says "Ken, the 2 minute warning has just started. Get off the bike and I will fix it!
 
 
Peter Craven &
Ron Johnston
 
 

 
 
Slant Payling
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
I can tell you why Mr Maurice Payling was called "Slant".  Johnny Hoskins watched Maurice write something down with a pronounced Slant to his writing and Maurice became Slant for the rest of his riding days.  Johnny Hoskins liked giving riders nicknames.  A pity no one gave him a nickname!  Or maybe they DID!!
 
 
Rune Sormander
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
 
Val Morton
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
 
Three Lesser Known Aces
 
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave 
 
Don Cuppleditch, Fred Rodgers and Peter Williams 
 

 
 
Belle Vue 1954
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Ken Sharples, Bob Duckworth, Ron Johnston, Don Cuppleditch and Peter Craven
 

 
 
England v Australia
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
The riders are unknown but the track is Belle Vue
 

 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave  
 

 
 
To continue with Belle Vue (Hyde Road) follow this link Belle Vue 2
 
 

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