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The National Speedway Museum

This venue originally opened in the Spring of 1909, designed to be a seaside attraction with Mountain Slide, Scenic Railway and other items and entertainments. Added a couple of years later an arena to accommodate a football pitch and an athletics track. Early in 1928 exhibitions of dirt-track racing where given on at least three occasions, the riders concerned being the Australian, Keith McKay, Sprouts Elder and Stewie St George following these exhibitions and demonstrations Open meeting were arranged by Jimmy Fraser on behalf of the promoters, Scottish Dirt-Track Motor Racing Club.

May 17 1928, the first meeting and spectators in the region of eight thousand were present to watch the event it was a Golden Helmet International won by Stewie St George and of historic interest there were bookmakers present at this and the third event held at this venue, at the time the sports authorities had not banned all betting.

Establishing this track was principally down to J S D Price of Edinburgh St George Motorcycle Club and Robert Sinclair of the Edinburgh and District Motor Club together with the active cooperation of the proprietor of the Marine Gardens, Mr Fred Graham-Yooll. The venue ran on an Open Licence during 1928 and 1929 entering a team, the Thistles, in the Scottish League Second Division during the 1929 season. Sadly a riders life was lost during a meeting in May 1929 when the rider, Walter Brown, died after crashing during a consolation Heat.  On a more positive note the spectators at this event numbered over 26,000.

The Edinburgh Thistles were entered in the Northern League for the 1930 season but they were withdrawn in August although their last League match had taken place in July - the track was closed because, it was said, the riders were demanding more cash rewards than the events brought in (sounds familiar).

Football continued at the venue for a while and in 1938 Midget Car Racing took place. 1939 speedway returned for the season with open meetings and the Union Cup. This proved to be the last time that speedway meeting were held at the Marine Gardens and the very last meeting took place on the 29th August 1939 when Oliver Hart and Jack Hyland won the Pairs Championship.

During World War II the site was used by the armed forces, they laid concrete over the track and, I assume at the end of hostilities they left and the area was left abandoned. However there was one last burst of a speedway engine when in 1953 Harry Darling and Jack Jones discovered that one straight of the speedway track had escaped the concrete overcoat and they put it to use for training.

The track, pitch and entire venue is now a Bus Depot.

Edinburgh Marine Gardens
Speedway

We are grateful to John Somerville for the programme cover images and to
John Javis for allowing us to use the information found in his book ‘Homes of British Speedway’

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