Canterbury Velodrome

A place for those keen on vintage and retro bikes - steel is real.
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Postby lindsay » 14 Nov 2011, 16:06

Canterbury Velodrome... The original. Address was Charles Street Canterbury. This could be why we call our Canterbury Velodrome Tempe??

I've always wondered how those boards went in the weather? Did they warp?






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Postby PeterOS » 15 Nov 2011, 07:57

Is that Al in the first photo behind the motorbike if it is he's still riding the same bike !

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Postby marc2131 » 15 Nov 2011, 11:30

Took me awhile but finally found the info I was looking for.
I have provided a link to the history of the original Canterbury Velodrome located on the present Mitre 10 site (or thereabouts) at Charles St, Canterbury. ... yVelodrome

The velodrome was opened on the 15th Dec 1928, but was demolished soon after around late 1937. The boards were reused in the construction of a new velodrome in Riley St (Surry Hills?) near the city.

Highlights of the original Canterbury Velodrome (1928-1937)

1. 12,000 seat capacity

2. 8 lanes, 220 yards in length (201 metres)

3. Used by 3 local clubs; the Canterbury-Earlwood Amateur Bicycle Club (formed 1929), Hurlstone Park and Lakemba for the inter-club mid-week and other carnivals.

4. Professionals who rode there: Cecil Walker, Harris Horder (killed in WWII over New Guinea), George Dempsey, Hubert Opperman (Oppy - reputed to be Australia’s best rider), Fatty Lamb and Grant Pye. International champions from overseas were world champion Sydney Cozens (English champion); Clement Germaine (France); Matt Engel and Oscar Rutt (Germany); Bransk Andersen (Denmark). Among the great professional Australian local (Australian) riders included: Jimmy Beer; Len Rogers; Grant Pye; brothers Jack and Len Standen; Bob Carswell (Riverina) and Keith Oliver.

5. Amateurs who rode there: Olympic champion Duncan Gray, Australian women's champion Edna Sayers from Earlwood, Jack Fitzgerald, Horrie Pethybridge (whose brother Tommy was lost with Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith in the Bay of Bengal), A. J. Parsons, Stan Parsons, Ken Ross and Stan G. Steen.

6. The velodrome was also used for vaudville acts, wrestling and boxing matches and motorcycle racing events.

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Postby shrubb face » 15 Nov 2011, 15:06

Awesome photos lindsay.

Just reading the link by Marcus, it must have been crazy racing on a 55 degree outdoor timber velodrome...

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Postby marc2131 » 15 Nov 2011, 19:15

I also read somewhere (can't find it now) that there was another 'velodrome' at Hammond Park, Croydon/Ashfield.
This is only about 3 kms from the original Canterbury velodrome in Canterbury.

Cycle racing as a sport must have been huge back then.

In fact I went to the Maritime Museum with the kids on the weekend and found a bicycle on display, the only bike there.

It was a 'Blackbird'. These were made by Don Blackman at his shop (since long gone) at 186 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield between the 1930s and 1970.

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Postby Johnj » 15 Nov 2011, 22:10

Here's an aerial view of the site in 1943, with the outline of part of the track visible:

Current view. For those familiar with the Cooks River cycleway, this is immediately east of where you go under the railway line on Charles St:

I found an ad in October 1937 for the site in Surry Hills (bounded by Riley, Goulburn, Pelican and Waine Sts), when it was sold as being suitable for a "sports arena". Preumably the promoters bought the Surry Hills site and then dismantled and moved the track. The last meeting at Canterbury was on Saturday 23 October 1937 with the first meeting at Surry Hills on Friday 17 December 1937.

Interestingly, when the Canterbury track was relaid in 1934 the boards were laid at right angles to the track, apparently in an effort to reduce splinters.

Love those photos Lindsay. Notice that one of the motor-pacers is wearing a "Superb" jersey, while the other has a "Speedwell" one.

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Postby marc2131 » 19 Nov 2011, 20:29

Thought it might be a nice way to end this thread by providing a listing of all the past and present velodromes and/or bicycle related sites in Sydney - built between 1900 to present. This info was largely (not entirely) lifted from the following website, but edited to give it a velo perspective: ... -even.html

1. Sydney Sports ground - pushbikes raced here on a large, shallowly banked outdoor velodrome until about WW2; also speedway cars and motorbikes.
2. Centennial Park - a great training Mecca for cyclists, used for road cycle racing on a variety of circuits over the years, it featured also in the 2000 Olympics with both road cycling and the individual road time trial
3. Parramatta Park, another excellent road course for cycle racing, was also used for car racing in the 1950s, until common sense presumably prevailed
4. Henson Park, Marrickville - an old quarry converted into a large outdoor velodrome around 1930, regularly hosting 30,000 spectators on a Saturday night. Replaced in the early 1970s with a steeply-sided (45 degree, 250m) concrete velodrome at...
5. Camperdown, built in or around 1970 in an old quarry/tip, now residential, semi-replaced (how could it truly be replaced?) by...
6. Tempe (Canterbury) Velodrome, a 330m concrete track for track racing, built around 1983 in twinship with the Chandler velodrome in Brisbane to replace...
7. Wiley Park, a decent sort of banked bike track that fell victim to road widening (King George's Rd) in the early 1980s. Remnant banking still exists. But all of these velodromes are overshadowed by the...
8. Dunc Gray Olympic Indoor Velodrome, Bass Hill, a timber track purpose built for the 2000 Olympics
9. Complete with a criterium track next door, added post-Olympics.
10. Not too far away is Hurstville Oval, a well-maintained saucer-type velodrome for track-bike racing that quaintly encircles a cricket pitch
11. Several criterium tracks also exist in Hurstville, notably one around Oatley Park (used by St George club for many years)
12. and the purpose-built tracks in Kempt Field
13. and Olds Park, both used for the sadly-defunct Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic
14. Not far away from Hurstville is another purpose-built criterium track for bike racing at Waratah Park, Sutherland, used by the Sutherland Cycling Club. Watch out for the big dipper on the long circuit, it's a hairy turn at the bottom
15. And yet another excellent crit track exists at Lansdowne Park, near Bankstown, a fast and twisty track with a steepish rise to the downhill finish
16. Merrylands Oval, a slightly-less-picturesque but functional saucer velodrome that was home for the McGee brothers for many years
17. Lidcombe Oval, even-less-picturesque saucer velodrome with a sharper than expected left turn after the finish
18. Blacktown Oval - a crit course for bicycle racing with a big tree to dodge on the left and a short and hard-braking area immediately after the sprint. If you don't brake hard you end up in the street
19. Bondi promenade, yes that Bondi, was used as a bicycle racing venue (from the 1940s, or earlier?) until increasing traffic pushed the racing out to Bunnerong Road in the 1960s, until finally a dedicated circuit was built in the 1970s at...
20. Heffron Park, Maroubra. An old military base complete with Nissen huts and long strips of hardstanding concrete (said to be for tanks), Heffron is spiritual home to the Randwick Botany Club
21. There's also an Olympic rowing course at Penrith with an access road that's now used for road racing and time trials
22. And an Olympic Mountain bike course at Fairfield

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Postby patn » 02 Dec 2011, 13:40

Love those pictures Lindsay!

The dude on the right in the third photo should be
removed and placed in the impressive legs thread
in the track forum!

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Postby MtbAnt » 26 Jan 2012, 09:10

Wow very cool photos lindsay, have you got the originals? I'd like to put a couple up around the place. I wonder how the outdoor boards would go over time. Ironbark or similar like at Circular Quay might stay in reasonable condition. I'd have to have an off though - it'd be like getting staked!

Also +1 on the legs comment.

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Postby Cossie Phil » 11 Jun 2012, 19:37

Hi Everyone,

I've just come across your forum after doing some research. To cut a long story short...I've just started riding again after 18 years off the bike. Speaking with my dad about how Im going he informed me that his Uncle Grant rode fairly seriously in his day. Dad remembered seeing his bikes in the garage at his uncle's place complete with cane wheels etc. Anyway, it turns out Dad's uncle Grant was Grant Pye! While googling Grant's name I found this forum. I've got some pictures that Grants daughter copied for me, I will scan them and post them once back to work on Wednesday. There is a shot of him on his Malvern Star bike at Canterbury in 1929 and a shot of him on his tour of the USA in 1927 at Revere Beach Velodrome in Boston. Grant also rode for Carbine Cycles in the later part of career. If anyone has any other information relating to Grant it would be great to hear about him.

It is also worth a mention that the National Library has a load of digitised newspaper articles from the early 1900's relating to race outcomes at all the popular tracks in Australia. Just serch the riders name you are interested in and its amazing what is there.



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Postby marc2131 » 11 Jun 2012, 21:25

Looking forward to the pics

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Postby Cossie Phil » 19 Jun 2012, 21:32

I've finally had some luck with the scans, although I need to get hold of a better scanner as the pics arent as clear as they could be...

Not all of Canterbury but definately of the period, hopefully interesting to look at:) I will repost the scans once I get some decent ones sorted.

First up a glam shot for my great aunt winnie


Second is a pic taken at the 'old' Canterbury velodrome in 1929. Just near the upper right corner in the full track pic above if I've picked it right...


Third up is a pic taken on his US tour in 1927, this pic was taken at Revere Beach Cycle Track in Boston. The original has much better detail including the stands etc.


Lastly an article I found which would have been written late in his career...pretty funny, Im yet to speak to his daughter about how true the early stow away comments are but the racing results mentioned match the details I have found.


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Postby marc2131 » 21 Jun 2012, 20:15

Great photos. Would be nice if you provided more info on him.

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Postby treacle » 21 Jun 2012, 21:17

Great pics and article. Hard to imagine that he had to travel everywhere by boat. Would be great to hear more stories.

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Postby Julio » 21 Jun 2012, 21:30

Photo of G Pye on Cecil Walkers page ... il-walker/

The Yanks were not the only ones to bolster Australian cycling. Cecil Walker, the all-round champion of America, played a part in a bonanza of splendid bike-racing during the mid 1920s.
During the late Twenties, Cecil Walker, the boy from Marrickville, reigned as the undisputed King of Cycling in all-round
competitions in America.

He returned to Australia on a number of occasions for relatively brief visits. He spent more time racing in his hometown of Sydney, rather than Melbourne, as his contract required him to ride there. Like his contemporaries, he spent his best years in the States collecting Titles.

Young Cecil, being the son of a grocer, helped with deliveries on his bike. He has lost interest in his pony after he had been thrown in front of his mates. He joined the Marrickville Cycling Club instead. At his first race, the handicapper showed no mercy and placed him on 70 yards. Coming to the first turn, Cecil came down in a heap with both tyres off the rims. Walker had not realised he should have glued them on.

In his first open road handicap race over 24 miles, he won a new racing bike. Walker started off eight minutes and caught the leaders just before the sprint home. He dashed past them to beat everybody to the line. The youngster went on to win the Inter Club Championship on his new bike.

During the 1918-19 track season, an upsurge in cycling quickly got under way in Sydney. Young Cecil started his professional career in a Sydney Six Day race partnered by Papworth. Six Day racing would never be Walker’s strength. He had too much talent as a sprinter to allow the ‘long grinds’ to blunt his speed.

By the end of the 1924 American track season, the Australian had claimed the all-round Title and came second in the Sprint Championship. He went on to wind another eight Titles and became the first rider to hold both sprint and all-round crowns during the same season. By now Walker had earned the Title of Greatest All-Round Cyclist in the World.

In 1937, Walker returned to Australia to win the World Derby at the Exhibition Board Track.

After 25 years, Walker still rode off scratch at the age of 40. Since his retirement, some rated Cecil as the best Australian track cyclist ever.

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Postby Cossie Phil » 21 Jun 2012, 21:56

Cheers Guys, Im still finding out new snippets of info daily at present, Im more than happy to tell the stories as I come across them:)

In October my Dad and Aunties are catching up with Grants Daughter, Im hoping to go along and meet her. We have a fairly large family and extended family and given his daughter is my second cousin, I have not met her in my 36 years!

Back in my mid teens I bought a roadbike as my Dad wouldnt let me buy a he saw me getting more serious with my riding he told me I had an Uncle who was a pretty good rider in his day, he raced against a lot of the greats, even Oppy....back then being a naeve teen, I didnt have a clue who Oppy was or what it actually was that Dad was telling me.

Recently after getting back into cycling after 18 or so years doing the cars, work, new family thing...Dad mentioned Grant again...this time with the benefit of Google I discovered just who he was and what he achieved.

The National Library website is outstanding for articles including race results, stories etc from the era. I have found literally hundreds of articles mentioning Grant, I havent searched any of the other guys from the era but Im sure there will be heaps.

Im only begining my reseach so will keep you guys posted.

I know so far, he was the face of Malvern Star early in his career, and he then moved to Carbine which he rode til the end of his career. I believe at least one of his bikes is still in existance so hopefully I will be able to get some pics, or even better, see it in person!!



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