More memories of the halcyon days of Bradford cycle speedway

Cycle speedway team Wrose, with Frank Dickinson, right, in 1947

Terry Crowther

First published in Remember When? Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

The Remember When? piece about cycle speedway (February 18) brought back happy memories for three T&A readers, including former Bradford policeman, Bradford City directors’ steward and writer Frank Dickinson, of Nab Wood Crescent, Shipley.

Most startling among the four pages of dirt-track racing and speedway cycling recollections he sent us was the revelation about Jack Tordoff in his youth as a cycle racer for Wrose, for which Frank and his brother Ernest rode.

Mr Dickinson writes: “He is perhaps better known as the ruler of the JCT motor sales empire and honorary president of Bradford City.

“The eventual millionaire seemed poverty-stricken in those days, coming into his financial own when he was 20, but at this time ‘nobbut a lad’, lacking hard cash in his pocket.

“Jack was a fearless rider and was dubbed in the Shipley Guardian as Flash Jack, and the Terror of the Tracks.

“Jack later achieved local sporting fame as a successful rally driver. Because of the Tordoff family’s motor trade involvement we enjoyed the use of a van to transport us to away tracks, the only team in the Bradford League to boast its own transport.

“Jack’s sister drove the van which carried us, our bikes, equipment and spares all over the district.

“I spent many happy hours riding for Wrose – fun and games and memories. Among those memories were the illegal drinking bouts in the Wrose Bull following home matches.

“During actual racing time I partnered my brother Ernest and we would be called to the starting tape as the ‘Dickinson brothers’ – as if we were a music hall act.

“Cycle speedway does exist throughout the UK, but I feel the heady days of the Forties and the Fifties are gone forever. BMX and mountain bikes have replaced the unique cycle speedway machines.

“No physical activity today can equal the exciting sport of cycle speedway that swept the country in the mid-1940s and afforded war-weary youngsters an exciting and challenging sport to enjoy.”

Terry Crowther, of Ascot Parade, Horton Bank Top, wasn’t a team rider; but, as the picture of him, aged 14, shows, in 1960 he was more than pleased to ride round the track at Morley Carr in Low Moor on his mean machine.

He writes: “How do you like my cowhorn handlebars? I think those in cycle speedway had shorter handlebars which were easier to race with and less dangerous.”

Mr Crowther says he would love to hear from old friends from those speedway days.

Mr J B Ellis, of Daisy Hill, rode for Horton Pirates. He recalls the other seven members of the Pirates were: Alan Ham, brother of former Bradford City footballer Bobby Ham; David Burnett, Graham Roper, Stuart Adams, Paul Newsholme and David Colton.

He writes: “The team’s home track was on the fairground land at the corner of Southfield Lane and Beldon Road – now Belton Close.

“I suppose all the team are now fully retired, but, as the saying goes, ‘The older I get the better I used to be’.”

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