The White City Track



Stock Car Race
Image donated by Les Cotton

In the final phase of its life as an entertainment complex the land, that had once housed all the wonders of the White City Amusement Park, had one attraction left. For a number of years, prior to the final closure, a stadium of significant proportions, for its day, sat behind the gates close to Chester Road.

Stadium Map

Once source indicates that the stadium opened in 1930 and operated as a greyhound racing track. On Saturday, June 16 of 1928 though, Joe Carley1 reports that he "visited White City, Old Trafford, to see the very first Speedway meeting held in Manchester. (It was then known as dirt track racing). I witnessed a spectacular crash at the near bend in which a famous Australian rider of the time, Paddy Drew, skidded badly and two following riders, unable to swerve in time, dashed into the fallen man and machine. One of the cycles flew some 8 or 9 feet in the air, turned a somersault and crashed down on the prostrate Dean. He sustained a broken collarbone, and was removed on a stretcher. .... Trick-riding and other stunts were included in the opening programme to interest the crowds in case the new sport did not 'catch-on'. I attended the track quite regularly in the days when A. W. Jervis, Larry Coffey, Skid Skinner, Billy Dallison, and Daredevil Clem Becket (later killed in the Spanish Civil War) were the star attraction."

In July 1953 a six lane cinder track for athletics was created. It took four and a half laps around the track to do the mile. This venue attracted some of the most famous names in international athletics. Paavo Nurmi once ran on the track and apparently looked at his stopwatch all the time. There is a picture of a race here in 1955 between Emil Zatopek, Gordon Pirie and Derek Ibbotson in the book "The Impossible Hero" - a biography of Gordon Pirie by Dick Booth. This shows that the track had at least 6 lanes and very possibly seven although the 7th "lane" may have just been a narrow bit of spare room between the 6th lane and the outer curb.

Les Cotton tells me that stock car racing came to the track in 1972. Mike Parker Promotions ran stock car races at White City as well as other tracks in the North West at Nelson, Stoke, Blackburn, and Rochdale. In 1976 MPP had the track asphalted. Les adds, "This produced an enormous increase in speed, unfortunately within months of the resurface, I witnessed local star driver Brian Wallace #119 suffer a throttle jam wide open. He went straight through the safety wires flat out, which chopped the roof off the car, killing him instantly.

Stock Car Race
Image donated by Les Cotton

 

"1977 - Ted 'Fozzie' Frater, Ex-Brisca Stockcar #195.
He carried on going over and ended up on his roof but walked away.
Image donated by Les Cotton

However, the days for White City were numbered and the stadium fell into disrepair and closed in 1982 and it was later demolished.

Old Stadium

Demolition Site
Images donated by Les Cotton

 1 Old Friends - Old Times -Manchester Memories 1908 - 1938, from the diaries of Joe Carley - published by Neil Richardson - 1990 - ISBN 1 85216 048 9