White City Stadium was built on a site previously home to a Botanical Society Gardens that opened in 1827 closing in 1907, in 1928 the site became an amusement park with the White City Stadium adjacent. Once completed the British Dirt-Track Racing Association moved its headquarters from Audenshaw to the newly constructed White City.
The dirt-track was opened on June 16th by the well known TT racer Charlie Dodson and an equally well known dirt-track rider Sprouts Elder won the inaugural meeting Golden Helmet. Incredibly there followed in that first year a further fifty meetings the last for 1928 staged on the 1st December. Reports of the track at the time suggest it was probable the most difficult in the country at that time caused by the very long straights and hairpin bends - the wire fence did not inspire much confidence either being too low to bounce the rider back on to the track instead an impact with it caused the rider to be thrown onto the top of it so offering so little protection the lamp posts had to be padded for some height above the fence to avoid the riders sustaining serious injury.
1929 and a team from White City were at the top of the English Dirt-track League but that fact did not stop their promoters withdrawing them from the league on the 10th September following squabbles amongst themselves. Once out of the league White City became affiliated with Belle Vue allowing the exchange of riders between the two venues and for the site at White City to be used for ‘Scrap Matches’ for the rest of the 1929 season following the end of which Belle Vue announced that they had taken over White City Stadium on a five year lease.
The Belle Vue management set about ‘sorting’ the venue they had taken over and as quoted in the book ‘Homes of British Speedway’ from a report of the time “The Belle Vue management are occupying themselves in making a silk purse of a sow’s ear, a genuinely super track is rapidly nearing completion on the site of the truly horrible thing which the White City used to be.”
How ever well meaning and industrious efforts were to prove to be in vain, the commitment to run a team in the Northern League in 1930 was honoured but all speedway ceased at the White City in mid July 1930 and the Northern League its self ended in disarray with many of the competing teams having managed to complete less of their fixtures in a full season than White City managed up to the closure in July.
Although I said speedway stopped in July 1930 it returned as part of a Cavalcade meeting in June of 1958 the event featured Stock Cars, Speedway and Greyhounds. Greyhound meetings ceased in October 1981 and the stadium was demolished about ten years later except for the original archway which remains to grace the retail park that now occupies the site.
Our gratitude to John Somerville for permission to use the images and to John Jarvis for data and information more of which can be found in the book ‘Homes of British Speedway’