Author Topic: Speedway Memories  (Read 39286 times)

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Offline ALANF

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Speedway Memories
« on: 30 June, 2009, 08:26:45 AM »
The Golden Helmet. The best of three races, home and away. A one on one race with the challenger being nominated by the Control Board. There actually was a golden helmet, that the winner wore as he gave a lap of honour. Of course, being a West Ham fan, I can't recall anyone else but Jack Young wearing it!
I was very young when I first attended the speedway, and I dimly recall that at that time the holder was Jack Parker of Belle Vue. My brother told me that Jack had a special bike that he only used for the defence of the Helmet!
I never saw Jack Young beaten at West Ham, but it was a different story when he was away from home on the smaller tracks. They did not suit his style.
With the Golden Helmet offered by the first division, there was a Silver Helmet for the second and a Bronze Helmet for the Third. Wally Green, who was a middle ranking rider for West Ham, actually held the bronze Helmet when he was transferred to West Ham from Eastbourne.
West Ham always seemed to be in the shadow of Jack Young, with the other riders not really giving the back up required to dominate the league. Towards the end, a rider appeared by the name of Gerry Hussey, who was very successful from the word go, and we all thought at last, we might have a rider to back up Youngy.
But the team closed shortly afterwards. A sad sad day in my life.
Alan

Robert Rogers

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #1 on: 01 July, 2009, 08:41:58 PM »
A photo taken fron the West Ham programme of Jack and the Golden Helmet.

Robert Rogers

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Re: Speedway Memories Jack Young World Champion 1952
« Reply #2 on: 01 July, 2009, 08:47:13 PM »
Even more important, the World Championship which Jack won Twice.
This Photo is of his 1952 Victory.

Jack was voted along with our other Australian World Champion George Arthur `Bluey` Wilkinson, as the joint top all time favorite rider by the fans when West Ham closed in 1971.

Offline ALANF

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #3 on: 02 July, 2009, 08:11:47 AM »
Robert

It was great seeing those photos, thanks very much. Just a pedantic point, the World Championship photo has Freddie Williams listed as being from Wales. He had won the title the previous year, and all the publicity made much of the fact that he was the first ENGLISHMAN to win it. Was this the English press clutching at straws? Like today with cricket, it was the Australians who dominated. Later Ronnie Moore and Barry Briggs, who were New Zealanders joined this dominant group.
Can you confirm that West Ham closed down in 1955, reopening in 1964, and finally closing in 1971?
Who can forget the start of the evening, with the March of the RAF blaring through the speakers and two lines of about 20 men, dressed in red and blue jumpers carrying rakes, marching out and positioning themselves around the track. This was followed by four riders slowly circling the track, making their way to the starting gate, ready for the first race. What memories!
Alan

Robert Rogers

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #4 on: 02 July, 2009, 12:02:05 PM »
Very much from Wales, the three Willaims Brothers, Freddie, Eric and Ian. Freddie won it twice in the early 50`s.

The first Englishman to win was Tommy Price in 1949.

They all rode for Wembley,(with the exception of Ian who rode for Swindon).
Tommy became West Ham Manager when the Hammers returned in 1964, and led us to the Triple Crown in 1965.

If you go to this link
http://www.world-sra.org.uk/Tracks%20Past%20&%20Present/Wembly%20post%20war/wembly_before_ww_ii.htm
You will see photos of Freddie, Eric and Tommy.

Arthur Atkinson of West Ham and England was one of the favorites to win the 1939 Championship (which would have made him the First), but a certain little man had other ideas about world domination, so the event never took place. Arthur also became a West ham manager after WW11 (along with his wife, who as far as I know was the first Lady to managed a Speedway team)

West ham did close in 1955, re-opended 1964, closed in 1971, although for a few months from April to May in 1972, a second divsion team rode there as the West Ham Bombers as the home track for what had been the Romform Bombers, before the stadium finally closed.

Jack is remebered in the turning Young Road which is in line with what was the stadiums main gates (see photo).

Offline ALANF

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #5 on: 02 July, 2009, 01:13:51 PM »
Having a road named after Jack is brilliant. Are there other roads named after any of the old favourites? Do the people who live there know who the road is named after?  The road shown in the photo seems to be a replacement for a much older road whose name I cannot remember. It led up to the main entrance, and walking from PRL, on the left hand side was a cafe. One of my older sisters had a friend who lived/worked there, and told me that some of the riders used to use it. I immediately requested she get me some autographs, and she faithfully promised that she would ask her friend to oblige. I never did see any autographs, much to my disappointment. But hey, she was my Sister so I couldn't hate her too much!!
Alan

Robert Rogers

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #6 on: 02 July, 2009, 01:37:08 PM »
The road is `new` being built on the stadium site in the 1970`s, This section run from what would have been the stadium main gates in Nottingham Avenue across what would have been the track and centre green towards the old stand on the back stright (which was demolished during the 1960's as they had become dangerous).

The old turning you refered to led up from Prince Regents Lane, and is still there.

Amongts the other names turnings are (Bluey) Wilkinson, (Tommy )Croombs, (Athur)Atkingson and (Aub) Lawson, not forgetting the old warhorse (Jonnie) Hoskins (see photo).

I would very much doublt if many of todays residents would even remember that there was a stadium there nearly forty years ago, let alone who the turnings were named after.

The Newham Story side of this site which is currently undergoing a major revamp (and closed) did have various items on it about the old Hammers.

Offline Bert

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #7 on: 02 July, 2009, 11:09:57 PM »
Robert,

You said, "I would very much doubt if many of today's residents would even remember that there was a stadium there nearly forty years ago".

Furthermore, Robert, they wouldn't imagine, even, that West Ham Stadium had a larger spectator capacity than the then Wembley Stadium. So far as I remember, West Ham Stadium would take 100,000 spectators. In the 1930s I was often one of 80,000 people there watching speedway, and what a grand, friendly and peaceful crowd they were, from Grannies and Grandads down to young children.

The main drawback of the stadium for national events was its limited accessability by public transport.

Please allow me, again, to pay respect to another of my lost teenage mates. On every one of my visits to West Ham Speedway my mate was Kenneth Banjamin of Stratford. At age 21, in 1943, he was lost on an RAF bombing operation and his remains not found. His name is on the Runnymede Memorial. (We remember you, Ken.) 

Offline Bert

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #8 on: 02 July, 2009, 11:28:51 PM »
An apology. In the last posting I typed "Kenneth Banjamin". his name was "Kenneth BENJAMIN"

Sorry, Ken.

Robert Rogers

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #9 on: 03 July, 2009, 07:54:23 AM »
Bert, many of the names which were mention on the site in the past as `giving their all` for their country were remembered at the Veterans day at North Woolwich on Saturday, with some being menetioned in the hand-outs at the Newham Story site tent.

Re rememering the stadium, even at the time despite the glories of the team, very little was ever mention outside the walls of the stadium, and the Hammers were better know in Australia than they were in West(New)Ham, with many an Australian youngster comming half-way across the world just for the chance to wear those famous racing colours.

One of the examples of `first` at West ham was attaching the word London to the West Ham name, this was forty years ago, Newham has just caught up!

Offline ALANF

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #10 on: 03 July, 2009, 12:53:59 PM »
Talking about the old Stadium has brought  back a lot of memories, but one thing a photograph can never replicate, is the smell of burning oil from the bikes in the "pits" being reved up and finely tuned. This alone was enough to generate excitement and expectation.
During the last seasons of 1954/55, other teams had already closed, and some of the riders were allocated to surviving teams. Tha Hammers received several of these riders; 'Split' Waterman from Harringay, and a local favourite from New Cross, Ron Johnson. When Ron first appeared, he increased the 'Gate' by at least 5000, or so my Dad reckoned. Sadly he was not successful, nor were any of the other imported riders. Ron was very successful on his own track, New Cross. If I remember correctly, it was the smallest track in the country at less than 300 yards. He was totally unsuited to West Ham, which was built for speed.
When they closed in 1955, as I said before, it was the saddest day of my life. I then switched my support to the West Ham football team. Bobby Moore was to become the star of the youth team, so I soon had a new hero!
Alan
« Last Edit: 03 July, 2009, 12:55:47 PM by ALANF »

Offline nellanhoj

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #11 on: 08 September, 2009, 07:04:21 PM »

    "Wally Green was a highly regarded London based frame builder who remained predominantly behind the scenes by building the top models for Don Farrell and others. This bike shown is a "Wally Green" labeled version of his work..."
  



Obviously Wally loved making them as much as riding them.  With or without an engine.
« Last Edit: 08 September, 2009, 07:07:45 PM by nellanhoj »

Offline ALANF

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #12 on: 25 September, 2009, 09:56:55 AM »
Reading about the strong connection between Australian riders and West Ham, brought to mind another Australian rider I hadn't mentioned before, and that was Keith Gurtner. He was No 2 man to Jack Young for a period. He had a distinctive appearance because he wore blue coloured leathers. What with Malcom Craven's leathers being Gold and Howdy Byfords Silver, they were a very colourful team! Although I remember reading that Howdy complained about the smell! Another thing that sticks in my mind about Keith, is the name of his home town in Australia, Waga Waga. I am not sure of the State, but posssibly NSW.
Another aspect of speedway from my very earliest memories, is 'leg trailing' when cornering. I understand that all riders used this method in the thirties, but post war, most reverted to the classic style we know today. I seem to dimly remember Malcom Craven and even the great Australian, Aub Lawson using this method in 1947/48 before reverting. It was a long time ago so I could be wrong.
Alan

Offline GeoffM

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #13 on: 25 September, 2009, 03:28:43 PM »
I wonder how many people realise that the roads that now stand on the site of the old speedway track are named after former riders. Croombs Rd, Atkinson Rd, Wilkinson Rd, Lawson Close, Hoskins Close.

Offline GeoffM

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Re: Speedway Memories
« Reply #14 on: 25 September, 2009, 03:31:07 PM »
Silly me just realised this has already been covered!!!