Originally the home of the Rochdale Hornets Rugby League Club who first used The Athletic Grounds in 1894 it was at the end of the century that a cycle and athletic track was installed at the venue. Inside the banked cycle track was the quarter mile track on which the Northern Counties AAA held their Olympic trials in 1924. In 1928 a Grass-
Managed by Alec Dovener the opening Dirt-
A team of riders was formed at Rochdale and were entered in the English Dirt-
The venue continued to host sporting events with Greyhound racing first being held there in June 1932 continuing until 1969 when stock cars were first introduced. 1970 and Speedway returned with Dent Oliver in control and the successful Division Two team transferred to Rochdale Athletic track from Manchester's Belle Vue. The first meeting of this new era was held in March and was a challenge match against Crewe which the Rochdale team, now called the Hornets, won. Racing continued for that and the following year but was not successful in drawing a sufficient number of spectators to continue, it has to be said that tracks built around pitches are inclined to be narrow and more square shaped than oval and do not present the best type of racing, and so, speedway racing at Rochdale Athletic Track came to an end and the track licence was transferred to Ellesmere Port in 1972.
Sadly over the next few years all sports were ‘discouraged’ from continuing by complaints from local residents about noise etc, and by 1988 there was no more sport at the venue and in 1989 the local council gave planning consent for a supermarket to be built to replace the stadium.
The programme cover images were kindly supplied by John Somerville and the information and data is from the book ‘Homes of British Speedway’ with the generous permission of John Jarvis