The Lea Bridge Stadium was purpose built for speedway known at the time as dirt-
The venue was rented to the Clapton Orient Football Club in 1930 which continued for 7 years until the football club moved to a home of their own, turf had to be laid on the speedway track to form the corners of the football pitch for each game, there were all the usual problems at the stadium when speedway and football is combined in the one area.
Back to the speedway activity in the March of 1931 the first outlawed activity took place, Tote Track Racing running a number of handicapped races on which betting was allowed and in fact encouraged. Have no details of why this episode was short lived perhaps it was not the money spinner expected or may be the riders were not happy to take part in these ‘black’ meetings, whatever the reason league racing returned to the track with a team being entered in the National League later that year taking over the fixtures of Southampton the promoter Charles Knott changing the name of the team to Clapton Saints in an effort to remove the stigma of the unlicensed meeting that took place there earlier in the year that had nothing to do with him or his promotion.
In 1933 a film company making a film called Britannia of Billingsgate used the stadium to film the race sequences and the team, still called Clapton Saints, continued in the Southern League, under the promotion of Charles Knott but now joined by Tom Bradbury-
1934 and Motor Speedways Limited again took over the stadium and the speedway team now riding in the National League Division One but was closed by the Control Board at the end of July for what was called ‘continuing irregularities’, the remaining fixtures were taken over by Walthamstow.
With no speedway licence the track was used for training during 1935 on lease to Wembley who’s riders used it to improve their skills under the instruction of Alec Jackson and Lionel Van Praag. The Motor speedways management opting for Midget car racing during 1936 and 1937 with
the pairing of Tom Bradbury-
Image of programmes kindly supplied by John Somerville and data from the book ‘Homes of British Speedway’ with the permission of John Jarvis -
Robert Rogers made contact to tell me that a team bearing the name of the Lea Bridge saints rode again in 1968 – a special meeting arranged to be run at Hackney Wick – Robert writes
“The Speedway season started in February (1968) with a meeting to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the sport, and the last match of the season on the 26th October was also a celebration of 40 years.
So for one night only, Hackney reverted to their old name of Hackney Wick, where the `Wolves` raced against the Lea Bridge `Saints`, whose skipper was Ken McKinlay. Racing the original 9 heat formula, the Saints won 39-
The second half saw some old timers in action in a solo event, called the ‘Veterans Invitation Challenge Cup’.
The programme notes summed it up, “Heats will be run as two laps to preserve both Men & Machine, but the final will be four laps and prayers will be said in the pits before hand!
Bill Watson of the New Cross `Rangers` won the final.”
He was also kind enough to send me copies of the programme see left and click to enlarge -