Sunday, 3 October 2010

Wigan Speedway



 Infinitely more famous for rugby league and football,Wigan had its fair share of speedway racing with not just one but two different venues. Poolstock Stadium was the home of Wigan Warriors in 1947. The team upped sticks and moved to Fleetwood in 1948, although they returned to Poolstock again in 1960. incredibly, Laurel and Hardy came to watch the racing in 1947. They were speedway fans and were appearing in nearby town, Bolton. Apparently they came along to cheer on a he/she mystery rider known as "The White Ghost". Woodhouse Lane Stadium was also used briefly in the early 1950s, this local team was known as the Wigan Panthers. I didn't know anything about this local bike history but I wanna find out some more.....

12 comments:

  1. In a strange twist of fate Skooter farm Racing was born out of this mix in the mid 90's.
    Go fast turn left.

    Capt H

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  2. There was another track at Coppul too Dave. The Hart family built their own little training track out there and it was also used by loads of other riders from the North West. I know quite a bit about the history of speedway in Wigan (and the rest of Lancashire and Cumbria) Dave... see what I can dig up and I'll mail you some info.

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  3. Wow! BCB....That's fantastic!! I'm really interested in the He/She "White Ghost" racer I read about on the internet somewhere. Did he/she ride for Wigan or a visiting team?

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  4. The night Laurel and Hardy came to Poolstock Lane (Sept 13th 1947), the Wigan Warriors were actually racing away at Birmingham! The match at Wigan that night featured a challenge match... The North v The Rest, with a crowd of over 8000!!! This was actually the 2nd connection Laurel and Hardy had with Wigan speedway, on July 18th 1947 the duo went to Bristol speedway to see Bristol v Wigan. Not sure who this "White Ghost" was though, I'll have a read through my notes,

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  5. Got it Dave... The "White Ghost" was the nickname given to Ausssie rider Ken Le Breton, who wore white leathers.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Le_Breton
    He was a Newcastle rider at the time and was in the "North" team the night that Laurel and Hardy came to town. The other track at Coppul was built by the Hart brothers (Stan, Ron and Oliver), where they also had a transport business. It was used between 1947-1953ish.

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  6. I used to go to High School with Tony, Olivers grandson and at weekends would ride up at the Harts on weekends in the late 70's. I met Oliver a few times and heard stories about his speedway/grasstack? days where he picked up some good old injuries. I seem to remember he raced under a pseudonym. He also had an old Jag we used to nick fuel out of when got a bit low.........great times

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  7. Captain, you dark horse!! you never told me about this early speedway experience....It all makes sense now though! totally gave you a grounding for racing Dirt track.....

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  8. Now here's an interesting fact. Oliver Hart's nephew wrote the song Delilah for Tom Jones!

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  9. what a bizarre thread this has turned into.....love it!

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  10. captian highside i taught you everything you know!! From the pounding on the bmx tracks of England to the 6 footer on the swede in Ireland. Wigan forever viva la france

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  11. Gives me shivers looking at those pics of the old riders. Speedway was my first love for sure. I remember those classic old race masks they wore and the programs just inspiring. Blown away to hear Wigan had racing.
    Ecky bem

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  12. Take a look at this on ebay http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=160497584822&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:ITW

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