1944 - 1959 Cycle races

Even before the Second World War had ended, the Western Morning News reported in August 1944 that the first massed-start scratch cycle race to be held in the South West had taken place in Central Park.  A scratch race is a track cycling event in which all riders start together and the objective is simply to be first over the finish line after a certain number of laps.  The course in Central Park was over 27 laps of Coronation Avenue, Jubilee Row, the northern section of Discovery Way and past the Home Park stadium, and 25 miles in length. 

The event was held again on 9th June 1945, a month after V.E. (Victory in Europe) Day, when there were 30 entries although only about half completed the course.  The third annual scratch race the following June saw 25 starters and about 800 spectators, with a record time being set of 1 hour, 18 minutes and 7 seconds, or an average speed of just over 19 miles per hour. 

After 1949, other race formats were introduced which included a 1,000 yards sprint and an Australian pursuit race.  In this, the riders start at equidistant points around the track and the object is to catch the rider in front, and thereby eliminate them from the race, while not being caught by the rider behind.  The race is over when only one person is left.

David Next and Viv Warne, who have supplied these photos, recall that cycling was a popular sport in the 1950s with clubs across the South West for dedicated and accomplished amateur cyclists. The last annual cycle race meeting in Central Park is believed to have taken place in 1959.