Defunct Speedway Tracks


 
 
Liverpool Speedway
 
Stanley Stadium, Prescot Road, Fairfield, Liverpool
 
Merseysiders  1936-1937     
Chads  1949-1953     
Eagles  1957     
Pirates  1960     


1949 Yearbook    1950 Yearbook   1951/52 Yearbook  Liverpool Speedway History  
The Most Famous Liverpool Chad Peter Craven

 
Liverpool has had 3 speedway homes but they were best known at Stanley Stadium where they operated off and on between 1928-1960.  After this length of time it is unlikely that anyone will take a gamble and bring the sport back to this big city.  It baffles me that small market towns can support speedway but a city like this one cannot.  Why?
 
John Says: I lived and worked in Liverpool in 1974 I lived in Fairfield but I never knew there had been a track nearby!
I remember a team nicknamed the Chads with the little figure looking over a brick wall.  Was I hallucinating or is that true.  Send me a photo someone to prove the Chads actually existed. John
 
Hi John,  Great site. Liverpool were the chads in the 40s. The story goes that prior to the creation of it someone in Liverpool said "wot no speedway" hence Chads.
Regards Richard 
 
 
Chad Badge
 

 

 
 
Liverpool 1936
 
 
1936: Liverpool Can you supply the names  John
 
Bill Walsh (NZ) says: Just picked up on these- -- in case no one else has come good with them--- I think the rider on the left is a young Ernie Price. The shorter rider with the wild hair cut number 4 across is I believe Jack Hargreaves and far right is Oliver Hart. Those three started riding together at Belle Vue according to the book" Harts of Coppull."  Jack was killed in a road accident in 1942.Cheers. Bill
Nigel Trafford says:- While browsing the site I found this picture of my grandad.  He is Tommy Price, he is the one on the bike.  I believe he was the captain.
Bob Bath says: Hi John I can confirm the rider on the far right is Oliver Hart. Cheers Bob
My name is Danny Lewis, grandson of Norman Murray who raced speedway in the Liverpool area and for Belle Vue aces as well  I believe that the picture 1936 of the Liverpool team includes my granddad as well I  am pretty sure he is the tallest one stood behind the captain  Tommy Price who is sitting on the bike.
 
Nigel Bird says: Far left Ernie Price, on bike Tommy Price, tall rider behind him is Eric Blain, next to Blain with the wild hair is Jack Hargreaves, far right is Olly Hart. Not sure about the other 2, Stan Hart was a permanent fixture in the team that year so I assume he is one of the others?.. Others to ride that year included Alan and Eric Butler and Sid Plevin. I do not recognise the other 2 as one of the Butler brothers (I have photos).
Nigel Bird says: John, Update, I've just had a look at a photo of the 1937 Merseysiders (Book, Speedway in Manchester) and compared them with the 1936 photo. Now I would certainly not put money on it, but the rider 2nd from right is I believe Stan Heart, the rider 2nd from left is maybe Len Eyre?
 

 
 
Tommy Murphy
 

Courtesy of Richard Austin 

 
 
1949 Programme
 
 
Programme courtesy of Stef
 

 
 
Liverpool Speedway  History
 
Richard Austin writes: Dirt Track racing later referred to as speedway, enjoyed an on again off again following with Merseyside sports fans. Liverpool speedway ran intermittently from 1928-1960; teams were the Merseysiders, Chads, Eagles and Pirates. Pre-war teams included such notable riders as Ginger Lees, Eric Blain and probably a first in speedway, six brothers riding on the same team Tommy & Ernie Price, Oliver & Stan Hart, Eric & Alan Butler. Stanley Stadium, Prescot Road, was Liverpool’s home track, primary a greyhound racing facility, dog racing took place on Saturday nights, Monday was speedway night. Stanley Stadium,  an ideal location, near a number of regular bus routes and a railway line, the track was one of the largest within the sport a quarter mile, flat with no real banking, a red shale surface, rather tight bends and long "straight aways".
 
1949-1953
 
 
Following  the end of the second  war, speedway was reborn in Liverpool, 11 April 1949, Stanley Stadium, the first meeting against Hanley,  drew a crowd of over 9,000 to see the Chads beaten 42-66, but speedway racing was back. The 1949 Chads team, Harry Welch, Stan Bedford, Alex Gray, George Bason, Charlie Oats, Tom Turnham, Fred Wills, and Ernie Steers.
 
The following year 1950, my Dad took me to see the Chads ride, from then on; I was a speedway fan for life. My young life centered around Monday nights at Stanley when the Chads rode. I would hope and hope on Mondays that it wouldn't rain, and that my Dad would be back home early enough from his work to take my brother and me to the track.  Chad team line up for season 1951 listed Peter Robinson, Alf Webster, "Buck" Whitby, Len Read, Reg Duval, Peter Craven, Bill Griffith, George Newton, Harry Welch Captain. 
 
Peter Craven rode for the Chads at the time as reserve and team rider, but he never seemed to be at home on the big Stanley track. Eventually Peter was given a free transfer in 1952 to the Belle Vue Aces, were he became a big star winning the Would Championship twice, 1955 & 1962.  In 1952, the team casualty list reached alarming proportions; almost every rider was on the injured reserve list at one time or another, causing an ongoing unbalanced team with strengths and weakness. At the end of the season, the Chads finished second to bottom of the League table, Don Potter a new signing, proved to be a valued team member, 6.2 for 30 league appearances, top rider again  team Captain Peter Robinson averaged 8.4.  
 
1953 Programme Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
The 1953 season opened, two Chad riders, Reg Duval and Len Read requested transfers, Reg moved to the Coventry Bees, Len to Ipswich. Replacements riders Tommy Anderson and Cyril Cooper became Chads, the “new look” team included  Peter Robinson (Capt.) Tommy Allott, Bill Griffith, Fred Wills, Harry Welch & J. Greenwood (res). The Chads still in Division 2, the much hoped for, a big star rider signing never materialized.  Local advertising/promotion of the team was really nonexistent, while the local paper, Liverpool Echo, continued to ignore the team and speedway in general.
 
New Cross speedway closed in 1953, speculation was rife, Liverpool promoters might sign a number of the ex new Cross riders. Liverpool would then move up to Division 1 racing and complete the remaining open new Cross fixtures, never happened. Suddenly,  it was announced  June 1953, the Liverpool team was up for sale, the reason, the  track promotion by a London based company, Southern Speedway LTD, the management claimed it was becoming challenging to manage racing in Liverpool from such a long distance  in London. The remote track management was probably a contributing factor, to a lack of understanding of the Liverpool market and the local fan base. An investment of 3,900 pounds you could become the new Liverpool speedway promoter, price included Stanley Stadium lease, Tractors, Rollers, Graders, Brooms, Lights, Starting Gate, Safety fence etc., etc., a complete speedway team, plus junior
 
Following the Liverpool closure a number attempts was made to reopen speedway, the greyhound committee was all in favor of speedways return, even showing a willingness to upgrade the track and improve the facilities.  Mr. W. A. Coats a local Liverpool businessman having prior promotion interests with Wigan Speedway, Woodhouse Lane Stadium, looked to have secured the promotion agreements, but it fell through. Two other attempts, one included ex Belle Vue rider Dent Oliver and another, businessman/rider partnership with Peter Robinson and Oliver Hart, also failed to bring speedway back to Merseyside.
 
1956
 
The Speedway Press reported January 18th, Johnnie Hoskins manger of the Belle Vue Aces was active in a new bid to revive speedway on Merseyside. The plan, to race a meeting every other Monday beginning in April, the first season run “open” with star riders from the First and Second divisions making up first half of the meeting . While the after interval, running six novice races. Johnnie’s Liverpool team would be drawn from promising Belle Vue based novices, plus a couple of veteran Chad riders. Peter Craven winning the 1955 World Speedway Championship would also have helped to generate a renewed interest in the sports return to Liverpool. The Hoskins plan failed
 
1957
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
April 1957, the great ex Chad rider Reg Duval promoted speedway at Stanley Stadium, a new team, the Liverpool Eagles. Opening night April 22, speedway was back, a crowd of 11,000 saw Liverpool’s own “mighty atom” Peter Craven overall winner of the Easter Trophy meeting. Unfortunately the open license promotion failed after seven meeting due mainly to the combined opposition from a number of rival narrow minded speedway promoters. Making unrealistic demands on the new Duval speedway promotion such as rider restrictions and appearance money. The position taken by these outside promoters was truly amazing and short signed. Speedway at the time was going through a depression; tracks were closing, only eleven teams were running in the National League. 
 
Again, speedway visionary, Johnnie Hoskins, Belle Vue manager was certainly all for the Liverpool/Duval promotion, viewing a golden opportunity to tap into speedway inner-city rivalry. The Liverpool closure also deprived local riders of track booking, one cause for riders drop out of the sport, insufficient meetings to make riding speedway a full time occupation.  
 
1959-1961 
 
In 1959, promoter and midget car driver Mike Parker announced a plan to bring speedway back to Liverpool, within a newly formed Provincial League. Parker and rider Reg Fearman were joint league promoters other tracks Bristol, Rayleigh, Poole, Edinburgh, Yarmouth, Bradford Sheffield, Stoke and Cradley Heath. The new League concept, revive the sport, provide both local riders and junior riders the opportunity to break into the sport, within actual race conditions. Later on in the year 1959, Parker ran a couple of “open” meeting at Stanley featuring speedway solos, side cars and Midgets (speed cars). 
 
 
Presenting the 1960 Liverpool team line up, it was obvious that Parker held true to the original League policy, providing junior riders track time, and career opportunity. The Liverpool team nicknamed the Pirates, listed Captain Dave Gerrad, Brain Craven, Peacock, Derek Skyner, Norman Murray, Roy Peacock, Bert Edwards, and Bill Davies. The teams new nickname the Pirates, in my view an error since all speedway fans; know that the Poole team was always known as the Pirates. Even though the Liverpool Chads had closed down, mid season in 1953, the Chad name still retained recognition with the Merseyside speedway fans.
 
The only experienced rider on the newly formed Pirates team, Brian Craven, who immediately became the major point contributor, unfortunately Brian suffered ankle injury in May, putting him out of action until late August. Parker tried out a number of riders in an effort to provide stability and much needed experience, veteran riders Bryce Subritsky & Wal Morton were brought into the team...  Wal became the top point’s contributor on the Pirates; he was familiar, with the Stanley track, riding against the Chads while on the Bradford team back in the fifties. Its worth noting, in 1937, riding for Bristol, Wal held the track record at Stanley, 4 lap clutch start 84..2/5 secs. When Speedway (Chads) at Stanley closed around July 1953, the 4 lap clutch start record was then held by Tommy Allott, 75 2/5 secs. Bryce also became a valued team rider, however unrealistic to expect two riders to carry the whole team, still comprised mainly of junior. The Pirates rode weekly against race ready teams, with veteran team riders such as Hockaday, Redmond, Fearman, Middleditch, Gilbertson, Bastable, Roper, Templeton, Harris, Cox, Reeves, Lansdale, Pymar etc
 
The Pirates won just four of their fourteen Provincial League appearances; the Parker promotion received marginal fan support while hardcore fans continued to support the team, casual speedway fans started to drift away. The Pirates ranked second team from the bottom at the end of the 1960 season.  Bradford the one team were management persisted with inexperienced novice and junior riders, resulted in the team finishing the season at the bottom of the Provincial League table.
 
1961
 
February 1961, the directors of Northern Speedway LTD, Messrs Mike Parker and Reg Fearman announced the closure of Liverpool speedway, no surprise, and fans had stayed away, no support for another loosing team, the history of Liverpool speedway itself repeating once again.  Merseyside speedway fans never had a winning team to support, no big named riders, just the Chads, for a short time the Eagles, finally the Pirates.   Local speedway fans might speculate,  “if”,  Liverpool promoters had built a solid team around a franchise rider such as Split Waterman or a Jack Young, would speedway still be thriving on Merseyside?
 
Consider, just 40 miles away, rival city Manchester, had the Aces, riding and winning in the National League. The mighty Belle Vue Aces, a club steeped in speedway history, a loyal fan base, citywide promotion and advertising, and support from local press, ironically the Aces at the time, were led by Liverpool’s own, the great Peter Craven.
 
Speedway would never return to Liverpool, the big Stanley Stadium was eventually demolished; the site is now occupied by a Fruit and Vegetable market.  
Richard Austin
 

 
Liverpool Speedway Official Yearbook 1949
 
 
 

 
 
Liverpool Chads 1949 Booklet
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John says:  I am, as most of you will by now know, a Newcastle Speedway fan from 1961 so I was pleased to see the small pic of Brian Craven and Geoff Newman.  Brian Craven was my first boyhood hero er until Ivan Mauger came along in 1963 and joined the Diamonds.  I then had two speedway heroes Brian and Ivan. 
Back to the Liverpool Chads
 
 
 
 
My thanks to Graham Gleave for supplying me with photocopies of Liverpool's 1949 Yearbook.  I have scanned Grahams photocopies and the results are shown above
 
I just can't get my head around why a big city like Liverpool cannot supply enough people to support a summertime weekly sport (speedway)
 

 
 
Liverpool 1949
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
Liverpool Speedway Official 1950 Yearbook
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
World Championship round at Liverpool.  Left to Right (Front Row) Mick Mitchell (Swindon) Bob Lovell (Glasgow).  Back Row : - Gerald Jackson (Rayleigh) Stig Pramberg (Sweden) and Jack Gordon (Sheffield)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
All smart and correctly dressed, awaiting the start of another meeting. They are (left to right) Alf Webster, Angus McGuire and Percy Brine.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My thanks to Graham Gleave, for sending me these items.  He sends me photocopies of the prized possessions in his collection.  I have decided to include the somewhat lengthy Liverpool Chads Yearbooks (well most of the pages anyway) as my Liverpool webpage is likely to be a bit sparse reflecting the all to brief, involvement in speedway at Liverpool.
 
 
Wot!  No Speedway in Liverpool Since 1960!
 

 
The Liverpool Speedway Official 1951-1952 Year Book
 
 
John says What!:  A "Yearbook" which covers 2 years 1951 and 1952!  surely in should have been called a 2 year book!
 
 
 
 
John says:  Yes my team Newcastle Diamonds folded in 1951 and I have always wondered why, I am way too young I was born in 1952!  The 1951 Entertainment tax must have signaled the end for a number of speedway promotions.
 
 
Wot!  No Speedway in Liverpool Since 1960!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Liverpool Yearbook's shown above were supplied by Graham Gleave.  The Liverpool page is now a good read.  I am looking for more pictures of good quality, so if you have some good photos please get in touch John
 
 
 
Liverpool 1952
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
Memories
 
Geoff Dearden says: I  followed the Chads when I was a lad in the early 1950's. My mum wouldn't let me go unless I'd finished my school homework, so I can thank the Chads for helping to complete my education. The first time we went to the Stanley Road track, we thought we had found a great spec at the front of one of the bends. Not many people there,  and we thought we were lucky to have found the perfect spot, until the riders roared around the track, covering us in wet red shale, much to the amusement of the other spectators. I well-remember Charlie Oates and also two other riders - Doug Sururier (a South African, I believe) and Angus Maguire, our favourite. I've not seen their names mentioned in any of the articles on the Chads, and wonder whether you have any knowledge of them.
I often wonder whether speedway would have a re-birth in Liverpool (make a great change from football); it would need a brave speculator with money and a track which would need to accommodate hundreds of cars. Perhaps Tesco could be persuaded to front a track at Kirkby, now that Everton won't be going.
I enjoyed reading your article and seeing the pictures. It certainly took me back to the sights, sounds and smells of the Speedway at Liverpool.  
Kind regards, 
Geoff Dearden (aged 74 and still going strong)
 
Bill Hughes says: Just looking at your web page brings back memories, my dad used to work there as a commissionaire in the clubhouse he used to go straight there from his day job. And I was about 11 and used to take flask and sandwiches .I would be allowed to watch the speedway thought it was great, what I remember as u say the smell from the track I suppose the smackheads of today would say its puts u on a high ha ha? I remember the music at end of night but can't think what it was called I used to march out of stadium to it ha ha once again nice web site.
 

 
 
Liverpool Programmes
 
Courtesy of Richard Austin
 

 Courtesy of Richard Austin
 

Chads programme (left) and Eagles programme (Right)

 

 
 
Courtesy of Richard Austin  
 

 
 
Peter Craven The Most Famous "Chad" 
 


 

The unmistakable style of Peter Craven.  The dark helmet colour would indicate that Peter was riding at home so this is a glimpse of what may have been the Liverpool track?

 
 
 
Peter Craven.  Very young in this picture. Who would have guessed that the little Liverpudlian kid in the photo would have gone on to win the world championship twice 1955 & 1962 and that his life would tragically come to an end in 1963 aged just 29.
 

 
Reg Duval 
 
 
Courtesy of Richard Austin
 

 
 

Len Read


 

Courtesy of Richard Austin 

 
 

Harry Welch

 
 
 

Harry Welch The Chad's highest-point scorer

 
 
Courtesy of Richard Austin 
 
 
 

Harry with his wife


 
 
 
 Another pic of Harry.  All pictures of Harry Welch are courtesy of Richard Austin
 

 
 
Derek Glover 
 


Courtesy of Richard Austin 
 

 

1951 Chads

 

Courtesy of Richard Austin

 
Standing.....Peter Robinson, Alf Webster, "Buck" Whitby, Len Read, Reg Duval, Peter Craven, Bill Griffith, George
Newton & Phil Hughes (team manger)  Front....(on bike) Harry Welch (captain)  
 

 
 

Richard Austin's Miscellaneous Items

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
George Newton
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bill Griffiths
 
 
 

 
 

Eric Smith

 
 

Courtesy of Richard Austin

 
Hello John, My name is Roger Smith, the eldest son of Eric Smith. I am pleasantly surprised and grateful to see a picture of dad on your website. We still have the Chads race jacket I believe at mum's. She is 82 and dad sadly died twenty years ago from a heart condition. If you didn't know, then he was from Bradford and rode at Odsal and helped start up The Dukes at The Shay in Halifax.
Mum spoke fondly of their nights in Liverpool and made some good friends. I shall try and ask what she can remember of Stanley Park.  Best Regards, Roger.
 

 
 
Don Potter
 
Courtesy of Richard Austin
 
Is this the same Don Potter who later turned promoter?
 
Richard Austin Says: Regarding the photo I supplied of Don Potter (Liverpool section). Yes, Don did turn promoter he was involved with trying to get Wigan up and running.
 

 
 
Liverpool Speedway For Sale!
 

Courtesy of Richard Austin

 

 
 
Liverpool Pirates 1960
  
 
1960 "Wot No More Speedway"! was the end of Liverpool Speedway.  The sport needs successful big city clubs and Liverpool should have been a rock solid base like Manchester
 
 
Liverpool Pirates Badge 1960
 
Courtesy of David Turner
 

 
 
Pirates Plus 3
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
If you can add to Liverpool's story or 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.   


Home
Contact Me
A-Z of Tracks
Name The Rider Part 1
Name The Rider Part 2
Name The Rider Part 3
Miscellaneous 1
Miscellaneous 2
Miscellaneous 3
Miscellaneous 4
Miscellaneous 5
Miscellaneous 6
Reg Fearman 1
Reg Fearman 2
Reg Fearman 3
Reg Fearman 4
Reg Fearman 5
Reg Fearman 6
Reg Fearman 7
Reg Fearman 8
Reg Fearman  Autobiography 2014
Eric Williams
Bob Andrews
Ivan Mauger 1
Ivan Mauger 2
Ivans 2010 Book
Dave Gifford Page
R Spencer Oliver Photos
Helen Jobson Photos
John Chaplin Photos
Ivan Stevenson Photos
John Hyam Page 1
John Hyam Page 2
John Hyam Page 3
John Hyam Page 4
Tony Webb Photos
Norman Jacobs Page 1
Bill Fletcher Photos
Peter Orpwood
Veterans
Oval Track Racing
Pre Speedway
Cigarette Cards
World Championship
Books
Bikes 1
Bikes 2
Bikes 3
Bikes 4
Bikes 5
Bikes 6
Bikes 7
Links

Copyright 2005 John Skinner. All rights reserved.   Advertisers and sponsors are welcome on this site. email for the price.