Days Gone By - remembering the early days of speedway at Foxhall Stadium in Ipswich

A spectacular crash at an Easter stock car racing meeting in meeting in April 1963 - photo by David

A spectacular crash at an Easter stock car racing meeting in meeting in April 1963 - photo by David Kindred

With another season of motor sports underway at Foxhall Stadium this week, David Kindred has taken a look back at the history of the site with photographs of events there taken during the years of spectacular racing.

Stock car racing on the former speedway track at Foxhall Stadium in August 1965. (Photo by Colin Mac

Stock car racing on the former speedway track at Foxhall Stadium in August 1965. (Photo by Colin Macer/Archant).

The idea of speedway racing in Ipswich was first reported in the Evening Star and East Anglian Daily Times in December 1946.

The site was to be on a twelve acre site on Bramford Road, Ipswich, opposite Adair Road. Planning permission was declined.

A trotting meeting held at the stadium in June 1958. (Photo by Peter Warren)

A trotting meeting held at the stadium in June 1958. (Photo by Peter Warren)

Another site at Cranes works, off Nacton Road, was also considered, but Deben Rural Council approved Foxhall Heath as a site in1948.

On October 25, 1950, there was a formal opening ceremony at the track with former rider and managing director ‘Ben’ Franklyn completing four laps of the new track. This was followed by a trial session by riders from the Norwich and Yarmouth teams.

Bookies taking bets at the Trotting event at Foxhall Stadium in 1958. (Photo by Peter Warren)

Bookies taking bets at the Trotting event at Foxhall Stadium in 1958. (Photo by Peter Warren)

The first meeting was planned for Easter Saturday, March 24, 1951, but a fall of snow saw the meeting cancelled. The first meeting was against Yarmouth on May 14, 1951, in front of a crowd of around 11,000.

By the end of the 1950s the popularity of speedway declined and from 1959 to 1966 there were several promotors of the sport, but in 1966 the original track was surfaced for stock car racing.

The original 1951 shale speedway track at Foxhall Staduim was surfaced for stock car racing on June

The original 1951 shale speedway track at Foxhall Staduim was surfaced for stock car racing on June 13, 1966. A new speedway track was built inside the original in 1969. (Photo by Ivan Smith/Archant)

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A new speedway track was built inside the old in 1969 and both car and motor cycle racing have continued since.

Over the Foxhall Stadium has been used for a mixture of events including stunt events and a charity football match.

Ipswich rider Kevin Jolly leading a race during a meeting with Belle Vue at Foxhall in the 1970s. Ke

Ipswich rider Kevin Jolly leading a race during a meeting with Belle Vue at Foxhall in the 1970s. Kevin is now the promoter at Mildenhall Speedway. (Photo by David Kindred)

In 1959 thousands attended a All Stars Football Match between a Showbiz 11 and All Stars Team. The car park area has been used by visiting circuses and car boot sales.

These photos show some of the uses.

This photograph was taken during a meeting with Yarmouth in April 1953. The track then had a concret

This photograph was taken during a meeting with Yarmouth in April 1953. The track then had a concrete starting grid. (Photo by Don Harris).

One photo shows two teams of Witches formed for a testimonal event at the track.

Riders taking part were (from the left standing) Colin Cook, Terry Betts, Ted Howgego, Phil Herne, Peter Prinsloo, Preben Erikson, Tony Davey, Milan Spinka and Kevin Jolly. (front row) Dave Gooderham, Nigel Flatman, John Louis (on the bike), Mike Lanham, Andy Hines and Billy Sanders.

A testimonial meeting for Witches legend John Louis was held at Foxhall Stadium in 1979. Photo by Da

A testimonial meeting for Witches legend John Louis was held at Foxhall Stadium in 1979. Photo by David Kindred

Another photo shows the team of 1954.

Back row, from the left: Nobby Stock, Len Silver, Dennis Day and John Lawrie. Centre row: Arthur ‘Ben’ Franklyn (manager), Bert Edwards, Reg Reeves, Bob Sharpe, Dick Campbell, ‘Junior Bainbridge, Alex Moseley (mechanic) and Charlie Frenzal (assistant team manager). Front row: Johnnie Chamberlain, Sid Clark, (captain, on the bike) and ‘Tich’ Read. Tich Read’s real name was George Snailum. He said: ‘I couldn’t possibly ride speedway under that name!’ Read was his mother’s maiden name.

This was the team of 1954. Photo by Don Harris

This was the team of 1954. Photo by Don Harris

Do you have memories of the early days of speedway? Share them here.