Mandy Parker, West Riding Track League
Parks Collection, donation, no. 17
View shows a children’s race in progress at the start-finish line of the grass velodrome at Roundhay Park. An engaged audience can be seen in the background. The grass velodrome was built as part of the sports arena at Roundhay Park in 1897, and, by the close of the nineteenth century, audiences numbered to up to ten thousand. Grass track bicycles are equipped with a single-speed transmission and no brakes. A ban on road racing in the 1930s and 1940s increased the popularity of grass racing, and time trials started in the park in secret at this time due to the road ban. The West Riding Track League was formed in 1947, and the sport remained popular up until the 1970s, when road racing rejuvenated. Recently grass racing has itself undergone a renaissance: as of 2017, there were over 200 riders registered in the League, with around 100 children racing weekly. This image was digitised as part of the ‘Future Prospects of Urban Parks’ project, conducted by the University of Leeds in partnership with Leeds City Council, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant number: AH/N001788/1).
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