Belle Vue (greyhound racing)

Belle Vue (greyhound racing)

Belle Vue is greyhound racing track in Belle Vue, Manchester where the very first race around an oval track in Britain was held on July 24, 1926. More than 1,700 people were attracted to the meeting where they watched a greyhound called Mistley win over 440 yards (402 m). The track has always been the property of Greyhound Racing Association Ltd. (GRA), which has invested heavily in it right through to the current day. It is also used for speedway as the home ground of Elite League team Belle Vue Aces.

A Brief History

In 1925 Charles A. Munn, a shrewd American businessman, realised the international appeal the sport would have and struck up a deal with Smith and Sawyer for the rights to promote the greyhound racing in Britain.

Although the earlier attempt to introduce mechanical racing at Hendon had died and been almost forgotten, the pastime of coursing in Britain was as strong as ever. Fortunately for Munn, the first person he contacted with regards to reintroducing greyhound racing into Britain was Major L. Lyne Dixson. The Major was a leading figure in British field sports and was quickly won over to the idea presented to him by the American entrepreneur

Finding other supporters proved to rather difficult however. With the General Strike of 1926 looming, the two men scoured the country in an attempt to find others who would join them. Eventually they met Brigadier-General Alfred Critchley, who in turn introduced them to Sir William Gentle JP. Between them they raised £22,000 and formed the Greyhound Racing Association Ltd.

When deciding where to situate their new stadium, Manchester was considered to be the ideal place because of its sporting and gambling links. Close to the city centre, the consortium erected the first custom built greyhound stadium and called it Belle Vue. On Saturday 24 July, Belle Vue hosted the first greyhound racing meeting.

Six races with seven dogs in each race were held in the first meeting. Fifty years later a stand was named after Mistley, the winner of the first race. Running the quarter mile flat course in 25 seconds, Mistley romped home eight lengths clear at 6-1.

Later, Belle Vue increased the number of runners per race to seven, but after the formation of the NGRC in 1928 the maximum number of dogs per race was set at six.

After the end of that first meeting, the GRA were horrified to find they had made a loss of £50 on the night, after attracting only 1700 people to pass through the turnstiles.The following week the crowds turned out in force. Over 16,000 people shuffled through the turnstile and "going to the dogs" became the national pastime.

From that first meeting in July to the day the GRA closed for the winter break just three months later on 29th October, over 11,000 racegoers had paid to watch each of the 37 meetings. During those meetings there had been 221 races. The consortium repaid a £10,000 bank loan and shares in the new company rose from their initial value of one shilling to £37-10-00. (That's £37.50 for an outlay of 5p for today's money minded!)

When racing resumed at Belle Vue after the winter break, 1927 saw greyhound racing continue to increase in popularity. By June, the stadium was attracting almost 70,000 visitors a week.

External links

* [ Belle Vue Dogs]
* [ Official Belle Vue Website]
* [ Belle Vue Owners Forum]
* [ Belle Vue Greyhound Racing Information]

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