Wolverton Park

In 1884 this patch of land between the two railway lines and the canal and the Old Wolverton Road became the town’s first public recreation ground. Like so many amenities in Wolverton it was funded by the L&NWR. Previously Wolverton’s first public house, “The Radcliffe Arms” and some cottages were located here. The carriage sheds were built on the approach road to the first station.
The Park, as it was known, could be reached by foot from the Stratford Road down steep steps to below canal level, or through the Park Gates on the Old Wolverton Road. There was a Park Keeper’s cottage here, presumably built for 1884.
The ground level of the park area was flat but man-made embankments on three sides created the illusion of an ampitheatre and at times it could feel rather dank as it held the still damp air of winter. During football matches this phenomenon amplified the sound of the crowd into something like a roar. In the fifties Saturday afternoon attendance might have reached about 1,000, large by today’s standards but quite typical for a small town in a minor league. turnstiles were in operation for football matches but otherwise the Park was open to the public.
The football ground was in the centre of an oval which was fenced on the outside. The oval, wich was banked at the north end, was a cycle racing track and out of the football season the ground was used for athletics. A bowling green and tennis courts were provided at the south end.

This photo of the Park taken before the ground was taken for housing development shows it in a state of some dereliction. The two stands had been there for many years.

Cycle Racing

I judge this photo to have been taken in the mid 1930s. In the background you can see the Gas Works and the banked cycle track. The cycle racing track was an oval round the football field and athletics track.

The bikes had fixed wheels (hence the supported start) and were quite heavy. The limits of technology at the time meant that handlebars could not be bent into the extreme shapes we now take as standard.