Greyhound, Athletics, Football
Belle Vue Park, Stockton
2 Nov 2023
NEHL - Belle Vue Park inherits its name from Belle Vue Gardens and had already been used as a sports ground by the 1890s. The first certain mention of the ground is in 1890 when a sports gala was held here. It may date earlier, however there is a Belle Vue ground at West Hartlepool which makes it difficult to specify.
There was a running ground here in the 1890s, with foot handicaps held here into the 1900s. References are made to "dog handicaps" being held here, which were much more informal than actual greyhound racing and allowed slower dogs to start in front of the faster. At this time it was used for whippets and was known as Portrack Park, and continued into the 1930s.
The greyhound stadium was constructed after WWII around a pre-existing football pitch. Unfortunately I'm unable to ascertain who played at this ground. It opened as an unlicensed flapping track, with its first meeting held in June 1946. It was hugely popular - greyhounds and their owners paraded along the high street to display the condition of their dogs to influence punters decisions later on.
The ground had a small grandstand on the north side, alongside two other sheds on the west side. The entrance to the track was originally the access road to Mount Pleasant House, an early 19th century manor house which was demolished alongside the dog track.
The track endured relatively difficulty-free running for the next few decades, but had closed in the mid 70s after temptations from housing developers. The perimeter of the dog track can still be seen in the border of the housing development. The access road mentioned above also remains.
Ordnance Survey, 1899
The ground just north of Stockton in 1949. Source: Historic England. Aerofilms Collection Historic England Photograph: EAW024106 flown 22/06/1949
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The track can be seen in the centre of this shot facing north east. Source: Historic England. Aerofilms Collection Historic England Photograph: EAW052013 flown 05/09/1953
Historic Environment Records
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