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The National Speedway Museum

I started following speedway in 1961 when a neighbour encouraged me to go along. Mum and Dad had taken me in 1960 but wasn’t that interested. My Dad had gone to Marine Gardens before the war and went to Old Meadowbank in the 40s and 50s.

I followed the Monarchs at Old Meadowbank from 1961 – 1967 then didn’t see too many meetings until 1977 when Powderhall opened. After four meetings I was raking the track and did so until 1989 when I was asked to be Clerk of the Course at Powderhall. I’ve been Clerk of the Course at Powderhall until it closed in 1995, at Shawfield in 1996 and at Armadale since it opened in 1997. I also did Linlithgow from 1994 until it closed and even organised a few meetings thanks to Alan Robertson.

In the winter of 1987 – 1988, coming up to the Diamond Jubliee, I started to wonder about the history of speedway in Scotland and found that the newspapers were a cornucopia of information and my interest grew from there. I did a series of articles for the Edinburgh Speedway programme and was a regular columnist for many year.  In addition to gathering meeting information I am interested in gathering details about previously unrecorded tracks and I think there are still a few to be “re-discovered” currently “hidden” in the pages of local newspapers.  As I am living in Edinburgh it makes it difficult to get access to English newspapers but I do get the odd day down south and try to make the best of it.

In my quest for information I contacted Norrie Isbsiter and through Norrie I became involved in the Veteran Speedway Riders’ Association (VSRA) (now WSRA). Norrie was keen to see the Scottish get-togethers (reunions) be better organised, and, with £15 each we received for appearing on a BBC radio programme about the pioneer days, Norrie and I set up the Scottish Committee of the VSRA and I’ve been secretary ever since. I organise the annual Reunion in the autumn and the social event, introduced by new President Jimmy Tannock,in the spring. The Reunions were often accompanied by visits by what is now “The Men In Black” which gave the opportunity for a run round a track or two on a Rudge or a Douglas.

My interest in history soon revealed a lot of others interested in the history of the sport, many of who were working in splendid isolation. In discussion with Graham Fraser who had been working on Preston’s speedway history we recognised we had similar thoughts and frustrations with the speedway press of the day. We decided to provide a platform form fellow researchers and published our manifesto for a magazine and The Speedway Researcher was born. We are still going at the end of Volume 15 and hope subscribers will carry us forward to volume 16 and beyond.

The late Ron McNeil then came into the frame with an idea for a web site and this was viewed a way to share information about speedway meetings staged in the UK 1928 to date. The site continues to grow under the webmastership of Matt Jackson.

I take the lead on the era 1940 – 1964 while Bob Ozanne is the pre-war supremo and Steve Wilkes aided by Mark Aspinell are the two men working on the era 1965 onwards. I am very pleased that many of the contacts I have forged via The Speedway Researcher have published books on a number of speedway riders and speedway tracks. Jointly with Ian Moultray I have seen the history of Edinburgh’s Marine Gardens, and the history of Speedway in Scotland published and I’ve also produced a book on Glasgow’s pre-war speedway on my own.

The records in the public domain in magazines are by no means complete but we are all gradually chipping away at the gaps and a huge number of collectors have provided information which have closed the gap. The fruits of the work can be viewed on www.speedwayresearcher.org.uk . Any help to close the remaining gaps would be very very welcome.

Jim has said he would be happy if anyone wants an electronic version of his book on pre-war Glasgow he would be happy to email a copy. Contact either through this site or via the speedway researcher site listed above.

Jim Henry (Profile)

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Apart from the books mentioned above I would suggest you visit the Speedway Researcher web site and take a look at the Researcher section which offers back issues of the magazine with loads of reading for those interested in speedway history. If you enjoy them why not consider a subscription for the quarterly magazine.