Oldest cycling track in Britain will not host races this summer as British Cycling expresses concerns over safety

Preston Park Velodrome, Britain’s oldest cycling track, will not hold racing this summer after British Cycling deemed the arena unsafe for racing.

The Velodrome, which unusually has four straights on a 579m circuit, has been hosting races since it was constructed in 1877.

But now the track will miss out on a year of competition if it is unable to meet safety standards. BC sent a report to Brighton and Hove City Council, which looks after the velodrome, with the governing body highlighting the fencing surrounding the track as a particular safety issue.

“British Cycling recognises the value of the Preston Park facility to local users and we are working with Brighton and Hove City Council to find a solution as quickly as possible,” a BC spokesperson said in a statement.

“The track was closed to competitive cycling after users of the track identified, in particular, the fencing but also other aspects of the track as in need of repair.

“Some repairs were carried out by Brighton and Hove City Council but concerns remain about certain parts of the track where it is thought that safety may be compromised in competitive events.”

BC now says that it is now working with the council on improving the safety of the arena, which is frequently used by local clubs and cyclists all year round, but the governing body and councils still says there are ‘challenges’ ahead with bringing the track up to code.

“British Cycling has met with representatives from the council to discuss the work,” the statement continued.

“They acknowledge there are still some challenges which need to be addressed and they have agreed to look into what will be required to bring the track up to standard.

“In the meantime, British Cycling has commissioned a condition survey of our own which will include an assessment of the cost to repair the fencing and carry out the remedial work required.

“Like the hundreds of people in the area who value the facility, we look forward to competitive cycling returning to Preston Park in the near future.”

A Facebook page entitled ‘Save Preston Park Cycle Track’ has appeared since news of the ban was released earlier this week and already has over 4,000 likes, in an effort to prevent the historic cycle track from losing racing.

  • John Ballinger

    Unfortunatly it seems Preston Park has become a political pawn between BC and the local ‘Green’ council. Neither of which have really invested in the track over the years. it’s a shame that neither party see that the result of their dragging their feet and constant excusses and blame is effecting a very large contingent of the local community….children. 100s if not 1000s over the years have learnt to ride and race bikes at the track and taken part in many a race. Seeing and 8 year old out of the saddle for half the track as he powered ahead is one image that I will never forget. These are the kids that are being let down by BC and the council.

  • Simon Barnes

    Sean Yates I think hovered just off the surface of the track when he rode it back in the 80s….god help any concrete post he might have hit…! What a track surely it must be saved.

  • Andy Storey

    Yes Phil – I raced at Poole in the 80’s and 90’s – avoiding dogs, Canadian Geese and old biddys was all part of the fun!

  • Baz

    That’s a serious matter, Tony; I agree with you about funding etc., It would be a pity to loose this old track.

  • Tony C

    For me the issue is the concrete fence posts at turn 2. My lad hit his head on one in a mass pile up. He destroyed his helmet and was lucky to walk away and wouldn’t race there again as it currently is.
    I hope they get the funding/investment required to bring it up to standard.

  • Baz

    I remember Wednesday evening meetings at Preston Park back in the late 60s early 70s. It was very shallow banking & perfectly safe then.
    There was a very promising young rider called Nick Lelliot from a south coast club – Worthing? What happened to him?

  • Phil O’Connor

    Did anybody ever do track racing at Poole Park, I did a few times in the 70’s, there were no barriers at all, crazy looking back at it now but that’s how it was then.