The legacy of cycle speedway in Norfolk lives on

Collect from 1951 of members competitng at Blundeston Site of the North Tuddenham Cycle Speedway Track

1951 members competing at Blundeston Site of the North Tuddenham Cycle Speedway Track 1947 -1953. - Credit: Archant Library/Supplied

Once a skid kid, always a skid kid and the news that Hethersett Hawks are flying high will delight so many across Norwich and Norfolk.

The Hawks Cycle Speedway Club has recently launched a project called The Nest that aims to bring national and international competition to the village and provide world-class track facilities for enthusiasts.

The Norwich Stars cycle speedway team of 1952. You can see The Firs in the backgrounds.

The Norwich Stars cycle speedway team of 1952. You can see The Firs in the backgrounds. Back row left to right: Mike Yallop, Colin Warminger, Geoff Shelton, Dick Sands. Front row: Don Morris, Wilf Plant, Ted Tayt and Johnny Walker. - Credit: Archant

It is great to think that in this day and age the sport, which played a major role in thousands of young lives across the city and county, is still going strong.

Team photo from 1950 with the Beetley and District Cycle Speedway League Shield

Team photo from 1950 with the Beetley and District Cycle Speedway League Shield. Left to right: Bas Perrett (manager), Phil Harris, Ron Mortimer, Russell Harris, Les Perrett, Joe Barker, Ron Harrison, Hank Harris, Geoff Dye, obscured Harry Baker at the site of the North Tuddenham Cycle Speedway Track. Dated: 1947 -1953. - Credit: Archant Library/Supplied

We had more cycle speedway teams that most other places in the whole country – the likes of the late, great Malcolm Flood. One of the best riders in the land. He came second in the British championships in the early 1950s.

Malcolm Flood cycle speedway star

The late great Malcolm Flood, one of the best cycle speedway riders in Norwich, who lost his life riding for the motor cycle Stars in the 1950s. - Credit: Archant Library/Supplied

Fans would even leave gifts on his doorstep. He went on to ride for motor cycle speedway at Norwich before being killed in a crash at Poole.

A rare picture of two of the greatest cycle speedway riders in Norfolk going head to head. The late

The late great Malcolm Flood, one of the best cycle speedway riders in Norwich, who lost his life riding for the motor cycle Stars in the 1950s. - Credit: Archant

Other skid kids who became stars were the likes of Billy “The Mighty Atom” Bales and Trevor “The Hedgehopper” Hedge.


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The impact cycle speedway had on a young community growing up following the Second World War was immense.

The Norfolk cycle speedway team from the Colman family archive

The Norfolk cycle speedway team: back row, left to right: Gerry Abel, Cyril Atkins, Dave Watson and Bob Woodcock. Front row Trevor Hedge, Mike Colman and Malcolm Sidell. - Credit: Courtesy of the Colman family archive

Norwich and the surrounding area was littered with bomb sites where youngsters gathered at nights and weekends… some were lucky enough to have a bicycle. Others made their own with bits and pieces they could pick up.

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They started to dig out tracks, race each other and by 1947 were forming clubs with great names.

CYCLE SPEEDWAY

Cycle speedway enthusiasts from days gone by. - Credit: Archant Library/Supplied

In a short time there were clubs across the city and all over the county from the Attleborough Aces to the Wymondham Wildcats. Every town and almost every village of any size had a club.

The competition between the teams was intense, and large crowds were gathering to watch their local heroes. They took on teams in the bigger cities… and gave them a hiding.

Even the Londoners were no match for the Norfolk speed masters. We were fast, furious and took no prisoners.

National Service put an end to some of the clubs but others survived and prospered. Norfolk continued to have some of the best teams and riders in the land.

The Galley Pirates of Norwich in 1976

Ahoy there me hearties. It’s Captain Pugwashs’ crew. One of the best cycle speedway teams around in the 1960s and 70s. The Galley Pirates of Norwich. In this picture taken in 1976 we have left to right, back row: Rod Witham, Dave Witham, Neil Attoe, Roger Reeves and Glen Norton. Front kneeling Paul Butler and Kevin Fuller. On the bike is the great “Fast” Eddie Paternoster. - Credit: Archant Library

Norwich Dolphin Autos, with manager Glen Norton, won the British indoor team title in the 1990s and there were many other great riders and teams in more recent times.

So let’s hear it for the Hawks and all they are doing to promote cycle speedway and to help communities by providing workshops and training in basic cycle maintenance with the Wonky Wheels Community Bicycle Workshop. More details on www.hethersetthawks.co.uk

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