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Ainsdale Sands - Speedway

Below is an excerpt from “Homes of British Speedway” courtesy John Jarvis.

“In 1948, Liverpool novices sought out Charlie Oates and asked his advice about training. Before the beach could be used for practice, much hard work had to be done in digging up anti-invasion posts, which sprinkled the smooth stretches of sand. However, after several weeks, an area was cleared and levelled for a track. Training from 1948 until 1951 was organised by Mr Oates, with ten to twenty novices finding their way to Ainsdale each week, where they initially used old machines before moving on to better equipment as their riding improved. Training in the opening phase was carried out on a solo basis, and then in pairs until such time as the novices were considered capable of actual racing. Spectators sat on the sand dunes to watch the afternoon training sessions. The spot used for training was situated exactly between Freshfield and Ainsdale, this avoiding noise problems. As time went by, a regular track was marked out, along with an alternative one to defeat the tides. The riders were given numbered jackets for identification. There was an elastic starting gate, while coloured flags also appeared.

Handicap racing was introduced in 1950, and this attracted regular team riders who wished to keep fit with proper racing. A helpful leaflet was issued, which stated: For the benefit of those who travel by train, alight at Ainsdale Station, walk down to the beach , turn left towards Formby and walk for two miles. Cars may be taken along the beach and parked at the track”.

Riding and indeed racing took place on Ainsdale Sands  from the immediate post war until late in the twentieth century, indeed I have heard it said that it still takes place today, the track being marked out with anything that comes to hand, washed up traffic cone or driftwood.  There has over the years been a problem of noise said to be because some riders did not stick to the  area original chosen by Charles Oates and had taken to riding too near habitation but the years of an individual organising semi organised events has passed and today it would be necessary to do a Risk Assessment.

As the eagle eyed will see from the image of the programme cover above this was indeed a well organised enterprise that encouraged and indeed attracted many spectators who were not charged to watch but may have been sold the programme, I don’t know.  This particular event included a ‘New Trainees Trophy’ presented by Liverpool Speedway Supporters Club and took place at the beginning of February 1950. The programme also lists the instructors as Chas (Charlie) Oates, Jack Cummings, Angus Maguire, Fred Gray, Derek Glover, Stan Bradbury and Bill Dalton.

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