Defunct Speedway Tracks

   


 

Norwich Speedway

 

The Firs Stadium, Aylsham Road, Norwich.  Speedway took place here between 1930 and 1965.

 
Don Houghton  Norwich 1930/31  Wal Morton   Syd Littlewood  Ted Bravery  Johnny Chamberlain  
Norwich Badges  Norwich - The Firs Stadium 1931-1965   Ove Fundin Photographs
 
 

The Firs 1950

 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 

 
 
Norwich 1952
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Graham Gleave says: Bottom Row Billy Bales and P Clarke Top right Fred Rodgers
John says: Can you say the year and name the riders, if so send me an email John
Steve Baker says: Norwich, from 1952, back row l to r, Bill Gilbert, Jack Freeman, Fred Evans, Bill Codling and Fred Rogers. Front row, l to r, Billy Bales, Phil Clarke, Fred Pawson and Bob Leverenz.
Col Greenwell says: Norwich 1952 L to R  Back row. Bill Gilbert, Jack Freeman, Fred Evans (Manager), Bill Codling. Fred Rogers  Front Row. Billy Bales, Phil Clarke (Captain), Fred Pawson, Bob Leverenz
 

 
 
Memories
 
Jane Best says:  to see your web site, brings back many fond memories of Saturday evenings in the 1950s early 60s. It was so exciting - and dirty with all the red shale !!  Can you tell me the exact location of the Firs Stadium? Was it where the houses now are opposite the Firs pub and Fifers Lane or was it further out of the City towards the present P&Ride?? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.
If you can help Jane locate the track send me an email John
Mike Kemp says: Hello John -- just seen the letter from Jane Best asking the location of the Firs stadium on the Norwich page on your great site She was right when she says the Stadium was opposite the Firs pub and Fifers Lane.
John says: My thanks to Mike Kemp for his help, most of the images on this page were sent to me by him.
 
Chris Weston says: Hello John,  Can you possibly help?  As a young lad, my father took me to the Firs quite regularly in the late 50's and early 60's and I recall we sat in the Grandstand seats  E 16 & 17, @ 7/6d each. Next to these were E 18 & 19 with a small wooden desk across them, which were for the EDP. Mostly occupied by a reporter with the surname Chapman, we were told to use these when the EDP were not using them.

I have been trying to "reconstruct" the Stars team of the early 60's, resulting as follows :- 1) Aub Lawson; 2) Phil Clarke;  3) Ove Fundin; 4) Reg Trott; 5) Billy Bales and 6) Harry Edwards. Various other names cropped up as reserves during that period, like Wal Morton and somebody Chamberlain, while I remember another name of Ivan Mauger? Not sure who the latter "belonged to".

But can you please advise who came here as visiting teams? My no doubt incomplete list, from memory runs like this :- Ipswich; Belle Vue; Coventry; Leicester; Swindon;  Wimbledon and  Southampton, but there might have been others ??  I realise a certain amount of speedway also took place at that time in Gt. Yarmouth and Kings Lynn - the latter still going - but was there ever a Local Derby with K. L. ?

I clearly remember Saturday fixtures were supplemented with occasional Wednesdays, periodically with the "Home" leg of the Golden Helmet. Several times, this involved Ove Fundin and Peter Craven and I believe each 'event' was 3 races?  On 'Away Saturdays', there were Stock Car meetings and from time to time, either Greyhounds or the Harlem Globetrotters?  Unsure now if I'm right, but some of the Wednesday events were not of the normal type, as they included the more miscellaneous gpcategory like the CTS Trophy.

Do you remember the rather 'cheeky' announcer who often made strange comments about the riders? Working with E.R.A., he was based above rage main Stand and us name was Stan Buxton. I remember ERA were based somewhere in Botolph Street.

My father and Ove often played golf at the Earlham Club which also around the time of the Firs disappearing, gave way to development as the UEA.

If you can help, it would be interesting.  Many thanks Chris Weston.
 
John Says:  if anyone can comment on Chris Weston's post please send me an email via this link John and I will put it here on the website
 

 
 
Norwich 1930/31
 
 
John says: What a great photo.  I believe the track is Norwich and I know it's a Rudge outside and a Douglas inside so the year is likely to be 1929 or 1930.  I don't know the riders can you help?
Norman Jacobs says: The photo of the two unknown riders at Norwich can't be 1929 as Norwich didn't open until August 1930.

Professor John S Edwards says: I can offer a very small amount of extra information about the "Norwich 1930/31" picture on your Defunct Tracks site, though I can't identify the riders.  I found some information in the Thetford & Watton Times, Downham Gazette and Journal (just one paper despite all the names) online. Their reports give the riders' machines, and Douglas and Rudge (and others) feature up to at least the end of 1931. Unfortunately the 1932 and 1933 issues of the paper aren't online, but my guess is that there may still have been the same variety of machines until Norwich became an official ACU track in 1934. As for earliest date, the Firs was converted from a grass track to a dirt track some time in September 1931. So if the photo looks like a "proper" dirt track (I leave others better qualified than me to judge that - to me the outside rider is producing enough of a dirt trail but the inside man isn't!) then it can't have been 1930. Best wishes, John E

 
 
The Firs Pits 1931
 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp via Jim Henry
 
This old machine has a strange looking tread pattern on the front wheel.  Riders in the early days experimented more than todays riders do.  I also know they cut there own tread patters with a hacksaw so maybe the tyre is a "blank", awaiting a tread to be cut?
No clues with this picture, can you name the riders, track and year? John
Mike Kemp says: - This picture is one of his and the picture shows.  The Firs Norwich on 18th October 1931  riders are left Arthur Reynolds and Allen Kilfoyle  
 

 
 
Norwich 1932
 
Picture courtesy of Jim Henry
 
Competitors line up for the start of the grand parade of the riders at the Eastern Speedways, Norwich on Sunday Independent & Journal 10th September 1932) On the front row are Number 3 Jack Smythe and 5 Geoff Pymar
 

 
 
Another Picture From Jim Henry
 
 
Another Picture from Jim Henry of the Speedway Researcher.  Jim says: This is the final of the Big Twelve. Riders line up as follows: -
 
14 - Hal Herbert, 8  Fred Wilkinson, 2 – Wally Banner, 12 Arthur Johnson.                           
 
Result Rider Heat Winners Time
First Wilkinson 87.1/5 seconds
Second Banner  
Third Herbert  
Last Johnson  

Riders who took part in this meeting taken from the programme are: -
                                                                   
1 Arthur Reynolds 11 Don Boswell    
2 Wally Banner 12 Arthur Johnson    
3 Jack Smythe 13 Number 13 not used    
4 Reg Stanley 14 Hal Herbert    
5 Geoff Pymar 15 S. Gardner    
6 Jack Allby 16 W. Phillips    
7 Wal Smith 17 C. S. Gill    
8 Fred Wilkinson 18 Johnnie Glass    
9 Jim Milward 19 Jack Eldon    
10 Don Dimes        
 
It was reported in the press that Fred Wilkinson won five out of his seven races, but the filled in programme gives him four wins and three seconds. Without doubt Fred was the top rider in this meeting and from the programme he would have won 8.10.0 (8.50) in prize money. This was not a bad payday as in the programme a Hercules bicycle was advertised at 3.19.0. A Two Seater Morris Minor Car at 100 and a 250c.c. Rudge Motor bike cost 38. The admission was 7d & 1/-. As there were 20 1/- to a , it would equal to 170 fans paying 1/- for Fred’s winnings that day.
 

 
 
Dirt Track Racing
 
 

 
 

Max Grosskreutz 1938

 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 

 
 
Norwich Badges
 
     
1937  1947  1951
     
     
Ove Fundin     
 

 
 

Pre War Speedway Car Badges

 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 
Some cars had badge bars on the front.  AA and RAC membership badges were most common but you could buy speedway badges to adorn your car
 

 
 
Wal Morton
 
Courtesy of Jim Henry
 
Not sure of the year, track or team Wal was riding for in this photo.  Please tell me who he rode for in his career etc  John
Steve Baker has sent the following scan:-
 
 

 
 

Syd Littlewood

 
Pic by John's uncle George Ince
 
Syd in the Brough Park Pits (He also rode for Newcastle)
 
 
Syd Littlewood's Story
 
Aussie Tony Webb writes: The career of  Australia,  Norwich and Newcastle leg trailing star  Syd Littlewood  began on the dirt tracks and grass tracks of Victoria  in 1936.  Syd who was born in 1914, had an early love of motorcycling in general. After he completed his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner he embarked on a 17 year career as a professional speedway rider. Syd was always insistent that his name was spelt Syd and not Sid. After obtaining rides in Melbourne in 1937 he made the overland trek to Western Australia to begin his voyage to England in March 1938. On the way from Victoria to the West he raced at Adelaide and Claremont in Perth. It was to be 12 years before he would see his homeland again
 
On arrival in England he was signed by Max Grosskruetz for the Norwich Stars where he made his home base.  His first meeting in the Norwich colours was at Birmingham on  Saturday April 23  when he scored 2 paid three from 2 rides. In that first season he had 4 home meetings and 8 away meetings as reserve and was a regular in the second half events at the Firs. he also appeared in the 1938 World championship round on June 4 but failed to score.  In his last meeting for Norwich on November 5th he won the Eastern Counties Championship and Willmott Cup,  which today is proudly displayed at his son Trevor’s home in Brisbane. A rewarding climax to his first year in England.
 
1939 saw Syd join the Newcastle Diamonds team in the same division as Norwich. Syd had a regular team place with his new team and in July Norwich supporters saw just how much Syd had improved as he was in the team that won the English Trophy final at the expense of the Stars. Syd scored 7 in each leg of the final as his team edged home winners by 84-82. Newcastle were at the top of the League table when racing stopped for the duration of the war.
 
On the outbreak of war which curtailed the 1939 season,, Syd’s attempt to join the Australian forces was denied due to the fact his engineering skills were required for the war effort in England. He spent the war years making secret equipment for submarines. Syd married a Norwich girl Gladys in 1940, their only son Trevor was born in Norwich in 1941
 
The war did not prevent some speedway action and reports indicate that  Syd rode for a Norwich team at Dick Case’s track at Rye House on June 29 and August 24 1941.  The first post-war meeting for Syd was an unofficial test match against Australia v England held at Odsal in August. He scored 2 points from the reserve position
 
In early 1946 the Speedway Control Board pooled all riders for allocation. Riders were also graded and paid according to their respective grade. As a number 4 grade  rider Syd was entitled the sum of fifteen shillings a start and the same amount per point. He was allocated back to Newcastle under the Johnny Hoskins promotion, Syd had a great respect for “Roaring Johnny” and held in high esteem
 
In 1946 Syd was again a regular in the Diamonds side and held his team place throughout that first post-war season. He scored 112 points in that season to give him the third heat leader position alongside Jeff Lloyd and Norman Evans. Also in the Diamonds team was fellow Queenslander Charlie Spinks. At the end of the year he returned to Norwich in an exchange deal for Wilf Jay.
 
Syd passed away aged 86 at  a Logan, Queensland nursing home on 24/11/2000, he is survived by his wife Gladys at 96 and his son Trevor.
Copyright Tony Webb 7/5/2007.  (Thank you Tony for allowing me to use this on the website)
 
 
Syd Littlewood & Charlie Spinks 1948
 

 
 

Tommy Allott
Syd Littlewood
Len Williams &
Bert Spencer

 
 
Sheffield V Norwich. Tommy Allott, Syd Littlewood, Len Williams and Bert Spencer.  Great action shot. The cameraman must have been very close to the action.
 

 
 
Bert Spencer
 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 

 
 
Bert Spencer &
Eric Chitty
 
"Chase Em Chitty!"
 
 
This is Bert Spencer (Norwich, riding for 2nd Division Stars) leading Eric Chitty at the West Ham track in 1948. Bert was, like Charlie Spinks, a fantastic sight in the old leg-trailing days.
 

 
 
Norwich Team 1948
 
Courtesy of Jim Henry
 
Pardon my ignorance but is this team Wimbledon or Norwich, if there is a difference with the race jackets in a black n white photo I cannot tell, and please name the riders for me John
Reg Fearman says: 1948 Stars it is Norwich and many riders I recognise but do not recall the names except Phil Clarke who is on the extreme left wearing glasses. It is a bit before Ove's time but he may well know some of the riders. Arthur Warwick raced for West Ham in the 1930s and had a very successful Motor Cycle showroom in the Barking Road East Ham - as a young boy I had my nose pressed against the window of 'A. E. Warwick' on many occasions.
Col Greenwell has sent the names caption now shown below the photo
 

 
 

Ted Bravery

 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 
Courtesy of Jim Henry
 
Ted Bravery.  Not a rider I have heard much of before so please tell me who he rode for etc  John
Bob Andrews says: Ted rode at California (Wokingham, Berkshire) in 1953-54, he also rode grasstrack
Steve Baker has heard of Ted ha ha! and has sent me the following: -
 
 

 
 
Norwich Stars
 
Photo courtesy of Victor Covell-London
 
Col Greenwell says: Hi John, Norwich Stars..name the rider, I think it is Roy Duke. As a matter of coincidence I believe Geof Duke once had a try at speedway at Cleveland Park...(behind closed doors)...It may have been early 60's, as I watched him at Olivers Mount, Scarborough around this time...Unless the old memory is playing tricks..!!!
 

 
 
Another Team Line Up
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 

 
 
Don Houghton
 

Allison Houghton says: Hi John,  I have been on your website And.. I'm very proud to say, that Don Houghton (Above – Holding Helmet in Back Row), is in-fact my Grandfather J.  Many of his bed time stories told to me as a youngster, was about his Speedway days back in Norwich and also Wigan. He had a terrible accident once, which nearly killed him on race day, back in the day… Don always spoke so fondly of the Speedway days… And the unbelievable crowd numbers that the race meetings brought to the track !  I have kept a lot of his speedway racing things.. I have a love of motorbikes myself. Don’s full name is – Donald Charles Morgan HOUGHTON.  If Don was alive today, he would be 101 years old. Sadly though, he passed away aged 86 years. Don and Rose, migrated from England to Australia back in 1956 with their only child, Edward Donald Houghton. (My Father - now also deceased).  Like I said I am very proud to see a racing photo of my grandfather when I clicked onto your website – Thank you.  From my young story time days, I do remember Don saying, he raced before the war and then again after he returned from world war 2 Kind Regards, Allison Houghton, Adelaide, Australia

 

Allison goes on to say: I have in storage (In a very safe place), Dons Racing Bibs along with other bits and bobs as well, one of the bibs which is Green with a yellow Star on it.. And another one which is White with a Red Star on it. Many years ago +10 or so,  in a “Just Bikes” Magazine… There was an advert that the Museum / Shop in Isle of Man.. I Recognised a Solo Speedway motorbike which my Grandfather made… I learned later that he had made quite a few of them.  I have proudly, 1 x Solo Speedway bike which Don hand-made to 1/5th of the scale as the exact normal race version. (This was and still is my 1st ever motorbike which I have ever owned and learnt to ride as a 7 Year old on the farm, and still goes like the clappers today). I am now 35 Years of age !  I do know from memory my Grandparents use to live at:  35 Little Glen Road, Blaby or Leicester… Would this be close to your race track, back in the day?  I have a few boxes in storage, so when I go check on them next, I will get a few photographs of things, and send them through to you for your beaut websites.  Kind Regards, Allison Houghton Adelaide J

 
 Photos Of Allison's Grandfather
 
Don Houghton
 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 
Allison says: Re the above photo Left to Right Paddy Mills, Don Houghton, Bluey Wilkinson and Len Williams (Sheffield Photo)
 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 
Allison says: These 3 pics are of Don Houghton in Norwich colours in 1946
 

 
 

Paddy Mills

 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 

 
 
Aussie Bluey Thorpe
 
Courtesy of Jim Henry
 
Not a rider I have heard of before so please tell me who he rode for etc  John
 
Steve Baker says: - The following info on Bluey comes from Matt Jackson & Hugh Vass's A-Z of BL riders.
Thorpe, Jack (Bluey), born, June 13 1914, Brisbane, Australia.
Bluey first rode in his native Queensland in 1939 and came to Britain after the war, intending to sign for Wembley. He never actually rode for the Lions in an official fixture and quickly moved to Norwich where he made his debut in their National League match against Birmingham on April 27. He lost his place at the Firs after suffering severe concussion in a crash, but recovered well to continue his career. He spent two more seasons in Britain in an attempt to make the grade, but further spells in Division 3 at Tamworth, Yarmouth and Wombwell proved equally unsuccessful and he was unable to win an extended spell in any side.
Cheers  Steve
 

 
 
Bill Gilbert
 
Courtesy of Ashley York
 
Ashley York says: I’m attaching a copy of a photo (see above), that was in with some postcards I bought in Norfolk recently. I came across your website whilst trying to find out a bit more information.  I cannot find the image anywhere on the ‘net, and would be very happy for you to use it on your site if you so wish.  The photo has a name and address stamped on the back – T Graham, 26 Mariners Lane, Norwich – and I assume this to be the photographer.  This makes it seem likely that the individual was a member of a Norwich Stars team of the past. 
Col Greenwell says: This is Bill Gilbert he rode for the Stars in 1952, finished the season as the top scorer and then retired at the end of the season.
Dave Anderson says: Norman Strachan ?
Cheers - Dave Anderson ex Long Eaton colour marshall now living in Perth W. Australia
Steve Brown says: The unknown Norwich rider is Bill Gilbert.
 

 
 

Phil Clarke

 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 
Phil Clarke retired after 13 years at Norwich.  He hung his leathers up in 1959.  Phil is the all time Norwich top scorer
 

 
 

Bob Leverenz

 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 

 
 
Eric Williams

 

 Photo courtesy of Mike Kemp

 

Eric Williams Photo courtesy of Mike Kemp

 

 
 
Johnny Chamberlain
 
 
 

4 foot 9 inches - Johnny Chamberlain, he rode for Norwich and Yarmouth Bloaters 

 
Jacky Bishop the widow of Norman Bishop who died in in March 2013 has been in touch about their friendship with Johnny and his wife. 
 
Jacky says: Hi John, I don't know if anyone will remember, but Johnny Chamberlain rode for Norwich for a while and some lads from the local RAF station used to hang around the pits. My husband, 'Bish' Bishop, was one of them. When we moved to Ipswich in 1959 Johnny was involved with preparing the track for re-opening; I think he was going to ride for them but am not sure if he ever did. I do remember going to the local shop and coming home all excited because Barry Briggs was in there!
The day our daughter was born Bish was busy regrading the track! After we moved back to Norwich we socialised with Johnny & Wendy and often took the baby to the clubhouse. When Johnny left Norwich he & Wendy moved in with us before going to USA for a holiday and stayed with us from when they returned until they left UK. They had planned to travel home to Australia overland as far as possible but things didn't work out. I don't remember why, but I know we bought the Sunbeam Talbot John had adapted [I think for towing bikes or living accommodation, don't remember the details]. Bish left the RAF not long after and life got in the way so no more speedway.
John says: Thanks for supplying this memory of Johnny.  I am really sorry to hear that your husband passed on.
 

 
 
Norwich Speedway 1950s
 
 
 
 

Norwich v Wimbledon

 

5th June 1954

 
 
 
 

Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop

 

I note that the heat times were given in 10ths of a second.  When I started watching speedway in Newcastle in 1961 the times there were given in 5ths of a second i.e. 72.4 at Norwich would have been given as 72.2/5 at the home of the Diamonds.
 

 

 
Norwich v Bradford 1955
 
 
Can you name the riders  John
Mike Kemp says: L to R Fred Brand- Arthur Wright - Billy Bales - Arthur Forrest
 

 
 

Harry Edwards

 
 

 
 
Aub Lawson 
 

 

Aub Lawson 1952 or 1953?

 

 
 
Memories
 

Tony Hurren says: I have just browsed through the Norwich section of the Defunct Speedway Tracks and thoroughly enjoyed it. I used to go to The Firs as often as I could. I was a West Ham supporter from 1946 until the track closed at the end of the 1955 season.  My favourite was Aub Lawson. There is a pic of him on the site which shows him kneeling with a caption: Aub Lawson 1952. Aub rode for West Ham until the end of 1951 and was then replaced by Jack Young. I don't think Aub raced in Britain in 1952, so it could be the pic in question was taken in 1953.

 
 

 
 

Billy Bales
Aub Lawson &
Ove Fundin

 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 
 
Billy Bales
 
 

 
 
The CTS Trophy
 
11th October 1958
 
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
 
Courtesy of Wattie Dunlop
 

 
 
Memories
 

Roland Picket says: We lived next door to the Firs Stadium where I grew up. My dad was a second half rider and also the night watchman at Norwich. Dick Wise was the best man at his wedding, Many of the riders on your website have been round to our house for parties etc. and my aunt actually went out with Billy Bales. Amazingly, I met Ove Fundin when the World finals were at Peterborough and he remembered me from the Norwich days. We kids would spend hours helping Trevor Hedge in his workshop during the evenings.

 

 
 
Norwich
The Firs Stadium 1931-1965
 
Bryan Tungate writes: The Firs Stadium was developed from a grass/dirt track near Norwich through the early 1930’s. Some riders like Fred Leavis rode under assumed names or some like Geoff Pymar and Fred Wilkinson were riding under their own names. In the mid 30s the track went into a decline until Max Grosskreutz took over the reins following his retirement at the end of the 1936 season. Max entered the Stars in the National Provincial League for 1937 and on 1st May Wilf Jay won the first heat of Max’s opening meeting. Crowds in that first season gradually improved and the signings of Bert Spencer and Wal Morton put Norwich on the right tack for the future. In 1938 Max made a comeback to lead the Stars and they took 2nd place in Division Two and knocked Harringay out of the National Trophy. They also won the Provincial Trophy. 1939 was an anti-climax. The Stars lost in the Final of the English Trophy to Newcastle but were only mid-table when Speedway closed down at the outbreak of World War II.
 

For the 1946 resumption Norwich were in the Northern League led by Spencer and Jay. Paddy Mills and Ted Bravery joined and Stars had an excellent season finishing 3rd and winning the Northern K O Trophy and the A C U League Cup. Both Spencer & Jay (as reserve) qualified for the British Riders Final at Wembley. In 1947 Stars were entered in the new 2nd division and finished 3rd. Unfortunately Jay had been transferred and Spencer missed many matches through injury and then Cyril Anderson lost his life shortly after joining. 1948 saw the signing of Fred Rogers but a top 3 placing was missed. Bill Wilson of Middlesbrough lost his life following a crash at the Firs. 1949 saw the advent of Bob Leverenz and another 3rd placing. The season saw the retirement of Spencer who had served the Club so well. 1950 finally saw a League title as Stars won the 2nd Division. Phil Clarke and Leverenz were well supported by Mills and the rest of the side. Jock Shead of Halifax became the tracks fourth fatality. 1951 saw a repeat title. Though Norwich had been finalists in their section of the National Trophy before in 1951 they won and moved on to meet 1st Division teams, they beat Bristol before losing to Harringay in the 36th heat of the tie. They also finished 2nd in the Kemsley Southern Shield and Leverenz became the first Norwich rider to qualify for a World Final

 
The 1952 season saw Norwich in the 1st Division but it was not a happy season when Clarke and Mills were injured early on and Leverenz was late arriving and returned home mid-season. On the plus side Billy Bales had a great season as did Fred Rogers and Bill Gilbert. The Stars finished bottom and were eliminated from the Trophy by Poole from the 2nd Division. The 1953 season saw the arrival of Aub Lawson on the Firs scene. It was to be a good signing for the Stars. Cyril Roger followed when New Cross folded and the final position saw an improvement.
 
 In 1954 there was an event which was to have a far-reaching effect on the Norwich team for years to come. Ove Fundin rode in the World Championship Round at the Firs and it was this meeting which led to him joining the Stars. The 1954 season saw Stars reach the National Trophy Final but they lost to Wembley and finished in mid-table. The start of the 1955 season saw the Stars struggling and so the meetings with the S C B eventually saw agreement for Fundin to join for the season. Though only riding a few matches the prowess was immediately obvious. Stars reached the Trophy Final again but Lawson was injured and SVEMO refused to let Fundin ride in the home leg. A good win at Wembley and a fine performance from Clarke saw the Stars home. Norwich had 5 riders in the World Final. The 1956 season saw the death in an early season meeting of Malcolm Flood. The season’s big event was the World Championship victory at Wembley by Ove Fundin. This was the start of a run of ten years when he occupied a top three placing in the Contest. The Stars ended in mid-table yet again.
 

1957 saw the Divisions merged and the birth of the National League. In the Britannia Shield the Stars won the Southern Section but went down to Belle Vue in the Final but it was again a mid-table League season. 1958 saw the best season yet as Stars finished in 2nd place and reached the Trophy Final again. Belle Vue, however, again proved to be our stumbling block. Ove Fundin’s record was phenomenal with 140 wins and 16 seconds in 159 heats. 1959 saw the retirement of Phil Clarke after 13 years service and he was the top scorer of all time. Bales again missed matches due to injury but the team took 4th place again and reached the Trophy semi-final. In 1960 Norwich said goodbye to the great Aub Lawson who finally retired. Second-string riders proved lacking as Stars again finished mid-table and reached the Trophy Final but Wimbledon proved too good. Again Fundin was superb winning 139 and getting 2nd place in 15 of his 155 heats. He won the World Final and added the Match Race to his collection of Honours. A youngster, Terry Betts made his appearance in second-half racing. The season also saw the death of “Tink” Maynard of Belle Vue after a crash at the Firs. 1961 was a poor season with a lowly place in the League, however Fundin carried on in his usual way and won his 3rd World Title in Malmo, Sweden.

 

1962 was another poor season coupled with Fundin being handicapped as one of the big 5 of National League racing. Betts and Jimmy Gooch had reasonable seasons and Olle Nygren joined as the season came to a close. 1963 opened and rumours of the track’s closure were dispelled. Nygren was eventually allowed to ride after numerous meetings with officialdom and Norwich had a Swedish spearhead. Betts led the support riders and Stars took 2nd place behind Belle Vue. The National Trophy saw positions reversed as Stars took the victory in the Final. It was in the days between the two meetings of the final that Peter Craven lost his life so any such  celebrations were decidedly muted. Ove Fundin gave the fans a lift amid the continued rumours by winning his 4th World Title at Wembley. The 1964 season opened with a report that the Stadium had been sold, but a refusal to development plans had been delivered. The team took 3rd place in the League and won the Easter Cup. The highlight of the year was the appearance of the 4 Russian riders with an all action performance. At the end of the season we knew it was finished. “Tich” Read won the last race. A special event saw Phil Clarke, Jack Freeman, Wilf Jay and Len Read perform in memory of the “old days”.

 
Bryan Tungate goes on to say:
 
“How could they tear down Our Firs, taking only 75,000 for it”
 
Norwich's Leading Riders
 
Billy Bales, Terry Betts, Fred Brand, Ted Bravery, Phil Clarke,
Johnny Chamberlain, Harry Edwards, Jack Freeman, Ove Fundin, Jimmy Gooch,
Max Grosskreutz, Trevor Hedge, Alec Hunter, Wilf Jay, Aub Lawson, Bob Leverenz,
Syd Littlewood, Paddy Mills, Wal Morton, Olle Nygren, Fred Pawson, Geoff Pymar, Cyril Roger, Fred Rogers, Bert Spencer, Derek Strutt, Reg Trott, Dick Wise
 
John says: My thanks to Bryan Tungate for this concise history text of Norwich Speedway.

 
 
Can you name these riders and the year John
 

 
 
Memories
 

Terry Lines says: While browsing the Internet I came across your website, and what memories seeing your site has triggered. I was a regular supporter of the Norwich Stars from the age of 5 years, from 1950 to 1962, my aunt Gert, organised a bus from Palgrave picking up regular fans on route at, Diss, Scole and Dickleborough.

 

Until the age of 10, I would be decked out in Green trousers, yellow knitted sweater, and the compulsory bobble hat, the unofficial mascot apparently!  My Speedway hero was Aub Lawson, whom I holidayed with, staying at his home with him and his family.

 

I found it to be very exciting to be taken to the various meetings in the car with Aub's Wife ,son John, and Phil Clarke .

 

This was the time when Aub was involved with promoting speedway at Ipswich, I remember helping to rake the the track prior to the start of the meeting, wiping down the boards, helping to push out the bikes, well I think I was helping, and being in the company of Johnnie Chamberlain.

 

Another memory, is doing a lap of honour with Ove Fundin, sitting on the tank of his bike and waving to the crowd, great crowd great memories. Terry Lines 

 

 
 
Olle Nygren &
Ove Fundin
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
 
Ove Fundin Photographs
 
Ove Fundin was the greatest rider Norwich had.  He would have been the greatest rider the majority of tracks in the land had had if he had rode elsewhere.  How lucky Norwich were to have Ove
 

Ove World Champion again in 1961

Norwich's greatest rider Ove Fundin


Courtesy of Nick Short


Courtesy of Nick Short

Belle Vue's Peter Craven looking for the inside line to pass Norwich's Ove Fundin.  Probably not the line to take against Ove as he has that line himself

 

 
 
Norwich 1964 Team
 
 

Norwich 1964 with world class Swedes Olle Nygren and Ove Fundin.  Trevor Hedge too became a stalwart for his country England

 

 
 

Norwich Or Wimbledon Rider

 

Courtesy of Nick Short

 
John says:  In black and white, I just can't tell the difference between the Dons race jacket and Norwich's jacket.  I think the track is Wimbledon and the yellow and black helmet suggests it is a Norwich rider at Plough Lane.  But hey what do I know!
Can anyone help with a name for this rider please   John
Nick Short says: I have a fancy that the rider is Ron How, although not certain.
John White says: I think Nick is right and it is Ron How pictured at the Cowley Stadium Oxford. However Norwich Stars rode with a similar pattern race jacket and maybe only distinguishable in colour. Something about the way the knees are positioned and the nose over the race scarf has a bit of Ove Fundin about it. What do others think.
 
Mike Kemp Says: the photo is for sure John Debbage of Norwich Stars
Bob Andrews says: Hi John The "Wimbledon Rider" I agree with Mike Kemp. It's John Debbage. It's Wimbledon's track but rider has Norwich jacket. and Away helmet cover. Bob
Nigel Bird says: Wimbledon rider: only if Fundin rode for them (LOL) I would put money on this being Norwich's Ove Fundin, classic Fundin start line stance, recognisable handlebars, trade mark scarf tight around chin, has to be Ove.
 
John says:  I often confuse the race jackets of Wimbledon with Norwich with black and white photos can anyone tell the difference?  If so explain it to me please.  I will leave this pic on the Wimbledon page, it is their track after all but I have also copied all of this to the Norwich page as I now think the rider is a Norwich man.
 

 

Courtesy of Mike Kemp

 
Poster from the 1960's
 

 
 
Norwich Stars 1963
 
 
Bryan Tungate says: Hi John, The team photo is of the 1963 Stars line-up. This is the team that won the National Trophy and finished 2nd in the National League. Back ....... Olle Nygren, Gordon Parkins & Ove Fundin. Front ...... John Debbage, Jimmy Gooch, Reg Trott & Terry Betts with Billy Bales leaning in on right. In the background is Gerry Jackson (Wimbledon)

 
 

Terry Betts

 
 

 
 

Dennis Newton

 
 

 
 
Derek Strutt
 
 

 
 
The Firs 1964
 
Last Ever Programme
31st October 1964
 
Courtesy of Marcus
 
Courtesy of Marcus
 

 
 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 

 
 
The Firs May 1965
 
Courtesy of Mike Kemp
 

The Firs: May 1965 closed for a housing development

 

 
 
Demolition Of
The Firs Stadium
 
 
 
 
A sight that speedway fans hate to see.  Stadiums closing, being demolished and the once hallowed track built over.
 
 

 

Norwich Hevingham Raceway

 
An attempt was made in 1976 to bring the sport back to the area.  Check out the above link
 

 
 
Norwich 2004 Reunion
 
Courtesy of Jim Henry
 
Can you name these ex-riders? Ove Fundin is the only face I know John
 
Steve Baker says: Back row left to right, Phil Clarke, Tich Read, Johnnie Davies, Len Read, Peter Atkins, Bunky Miles, Russell Davey and Maurice Flood. Front row left to right, Les Mullins, Ove Fundin, Billy Bales and Trevor Hedge.
 

 
If you have any photos etc please email me so we can show them on the website John
 

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