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Audenshaw Racecourse

The somewhat dishevelled programme cover shown on the left is from the very first meeting that took place at this venue known locally as ‘The Snipe’ named after the inn it was situated behind. There were fears expressed at the time that as the track had been used as a trotting track that there would be a threat of a falling rider contracting tetanus.

The first meeting was, as can be seen, promoted by the South Manchester Motor Club and apparently attracted a crowd of 20,000 who were able to watch many stars of the time including Ginger Lees and Billy Galloway, the ‘Unlimited final’ on the day was won by a Mr H Mitchell. Following this there were to be seven more dirt track meeting held, the last under the direction of the British Dirt-Track Racing Association was held on May 19 but only managed to draw a crowd of 5,000.

1929 and the Stalybridge Motor Club promoted meetings at the venue however as they were not recognised by speedways governing body, this meant the meetings were ‘black’ and riders were forbidden to ride there, this state of affairs led to well known riders adopting false names and riding in sporting masks in order to overcome the problem of their being banned by the Northern Dirt-Track Owners Association from racing at unauthorised meeting. Common sense eventually prevailed when a new company was formed called the Northern Motor Sports Limited and they took over the running of speedway at the venue in association with the South Manchester Club. Associate membership of the Northern Dirt-Track Owners Association was then granted to the promoting group and that in turn meant that the ACU approved the running of meetings.

Receiving approval inevitable meant receiving an inspection which in the case of ‘The Snipe’ proved a problem, the track was not completely fenced and piles of coal slag had been used to define the track from the outer perimeter, this clearly was not safe for the riders and the track was banned again. And again meeting took place with riders called Dan De Lyon, The Red Terror, The Thriller etc. and the wearing of masks. It was popular with the spectators who’s numbers increased following the ban imposed by the sports ruling body, sadly their fears may have been with good cause as in June of 1929 the rider George Rowlands aged 28 years was killed on the track.

In March 1930 the stadium went up for sale for housing development but the racing continued throughout the season, un-licensed but attracting large numbers of spectators, at a meeting on the 29 June 12,000 people paid to enter and a further 5,000 entered free when the barriers collapsed.

In August a rider William Owen from Widnes received injuries on the track from which he died and a year later James Kenny also died following a track accident, James had been riding under the name of Jack Smith and his death caused his brother, who had been riding under the pseudonym of Billy Brown, to retire. James Kenny’s death also led to a court injunction and the track was closed, the last meeting taking place on the 16 August 1931.

Despite several attempts to reopen the venue to speedway it was not to happen and by the end of the 1930’s the area was used to build a housing estate.   

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The above information is from the book ‘Homes of British Speedway’ and is used with the kind permission of John Jarvis - the cover is from an example on www.speedwayswapshop.co.uk