Post War - Newcastle Riders

 

1945 to 1951 - Part 3

 
 
Jeff Lloyd     Herby King     Don Lawson     Son Mitchell    The Hodgson Brothers   Will Lowther     Wilf Jay     Tommy Bateman   Derek Close   
 
Red and White Diamonds   Ivan Stephenson's Photographs  Kyra's Photographs
 
 

 
 

Jeff Lloyd

 

Picture Courtesy of Colin Greenwell

 
This is 1946 and as you can see from the above photograph, Brough is full to the rafters. Jeff Lloyd poses for this shot which shows the "pudding basin" helmet.  Open faced helmets like this one were in use right up until the 1970's when full faced ones became a must.  My first helmet was a bit like this one and I bought it in 1967. They offered no protection to the face as only goggles and a leather mask or silk scarf were used to "protect" the rider. Face protection by mask or scarf was only intended as protection from the weather.  Many riders must have suffered bad injuries due to a lack of protection to the jaw.
Jeff's bike is not well displayed in this picture but it appears to be a JAP engine in an Excelsior frame. The grandstand in view was on the back straight and it was an excellent spacious place to view from. Sadly it fell into serious neglect from the 1980's onwards and has recently been demolished.  Brough Park now has viewing from the home straight only, so god knows how we would house a crowd the size of those attracted in the 1940's.
 
 
 
 Courtesy of Gordon Heiniger
 
  Right: Jeff Lloyd in New Cross colours.
 

 
 
The Farewell Cup
 
20th October 1947
 
 

Split Waterman Wembley with Newcastle's Derek Close.  Derek did not ride in the following meeting so these two met up some place else and posed for this picture.

On the 20th October 1947 Split Waterman won the closing Brough Park event. The Farewell Cup.  After looking through all the results from that era, it appear this was the only occasion that Split Waterman rode at Brough Park.
 
20 October 1947 - The End of Season Farewell Cup-Individual Event
 
Heat  Heat Winner  2nd  3rd  4th  Time                                                                                                        
           
Evans  Wells  Lloyd  May  77.2 
Gilbert  Crowther  Jay  Calder  75.8 
Grant  McLachlan  Smith  Kitchen (fex)  76.8 
Waterman  Lowther  Hunt  Craighead  75.8 
Kitchen  Craighead  Jay  Lloyd  78.4 
Lowther Evans Crowther McLachlan(f) 77.6
Waterman  Grant  Crowther  Wells  75.2 
Gilbert  Hunt  May  Smith 77.2 
9 Grant Hunt Lloyd Calder 77.6
10  Waterman  Evans  Jay  Smith  76.2 
11  Lowther  Crowther  Lloyd  Muir  78.2 
12  Crowther  McLachlan  Craighead  May  78.6 
13  Gilbert  Kitchen  Lowther  Wells  77.0 
14  Grant  Gilbert  Craighead  Evans  77.2 
15  McLachlan  Hunt  Wells  Jay  79.2 
16  Waterman  Kitchen  Calder  May(f)  77.4 
17  Gilbert  Waterman  McLachlan  Lloyd  78.2 
18  Kitchen  Crowther  Evans  Hunt  77.6 
19  Craighead  Smith  Calder  Wells  79.4 
20  Lowther  Grant  May  Jay  79.4 
           
21  2 man run off  Waterman 1st       77.6
    Gilbert 2nd       
 
Rider  2 Total  Postion   
Split Waterman  14  1st                                                                                                                              
Bill Gilbert  14  2nd   
Alec Grant  13  3rd  Newcastle 
Will Lowther  3 3 1 3 12  4th  Newcastle 
Bill Kitchen  10  =5th   
Joe Crowther  10  =5th   
Norman Evans  =7th  Newcastle 
Doug Mc Lachlan  =7th  Newcastle 
Roy Craighead  =9th   
Jack Hunt  =9th   
Pat Vincent Smith    =11th  Newcastle 
Bob Wells  =11th   
Peter Lloyd  =11th  Newcastle 
Wilf Jay  =11th  Newcastle 
Danny Calder  =11th   
Charlie May  16th   
Ray Muir          17th   
 

 
 
Leo Lungo 
 
 
 Courtesy of Gordon Heiniger
 
Barry Wallace says: Leo Lungo was a Scot who rode in the 1946 Newcastle team - featured in the first programme of 2009 - but sadly he died during the winter of 1946/47 after falling ill with pneumonia.
Thanks Barry, your knowledge is second to none 
 

 
 
1948 Magazine Review
Not A Good Year! 
 
 

 
 

Herby King

 
 
 

 
 

Don Lawson

 
 
 

 
 
Don Lawson With
Son Mitchell 
 
 
 
This is a photo of Don Lawson with Son Mitchell standing behind him taken in 1950. Just look at that crowd behind Don and Son in the photo, wouldn’t you love a crowd like that now?
Yes all of the photos on the site from the 40's 50's and 60's show a packed stadium.  The modern sport just isn't well supported and there is always the threat of track closures.
 

 
 
Archie Cooper's Photo 
 
 
 
My friend Archie Cooper has been a fan since the 1940s, he was active then as a cycle speedway rider too.  Archie is also an accomplished photographer.  His pictures like the above one adorn my websites on various pages. 
Archie and I meet briefly before each home match and he occasionally brings a Photo, book or other memorabilia which helps me with my websites.  I look forward to Archie's visits each week and his latest picture shows action from 1948 at Brough Park.  Jack Parker leads in a heat from the 4th annual speedway "Gala" on 6th July 1948.  Can you help name the other two (might be easy if you have the match programme). send John an email if you can name the other two riders  John 
Barry Wallace says: Had a look at a few pages while I was on your site and can state that the action shot featuring Jack Parker leading in the Gala meeting also shows Jeff Lloyd in his New Cross race-jacket trying to get through on the inside, while Glasgow's Will Lowther - you can make out what were red-and-white-stripes on his body-colour - is on the outside. 
Gary Thompson says: Hi John, Jack Parker leading and I think Will Lowther of Glasgow on the outside and Jeff Lloyd of New Cross on the inside. Jack Parker scored a 15point maximum.
L says: - I believe it was more likely the 5th July 1948 when the Northumberland Cup meeting was on. If that is the case then I have the results of that meeting.  From the information I have it appears to be heat 6. Jack Parker leads but on the inside is one of two New Cross riders at the meeting.
I believe it's Jeff Lloyd going of the riding style, the other New Cross rider there was Ron Johnson.
On the outside the rider with the White helmet appears to have light and dark strips on his race jacket not a Diamond, the other 2 riders in the heat were Will Lowther (Glasgow White City) and Jack Hunt (Newcastle).  So in my humble opinion the photo shows Jack Parker (Belle Vue) leading Heat 6 from Jeff Lloyd (New Cross) inside and Will Lowther (Glasgow White City) on the outside, Jack Hunt (Newcastle) is not in the picture.  Heat 6 result: Parker, Lloyd, Hunt, Lowther. Time 74.8

Gary Thompson says: Hi John,  I have a copy of the programme and is dated 6 July 1948. Also I have a copy of the highlights on dvd sadly without any sound. Oh to see the size of the crowds like that again eh?
Alan Taylor says: Just came across your old speedway photos, which I found most interesting; could the rider nearest the inside be Vic Duggan, the handlebars are right and the left foot is in the direction of, and close to, the front wheel.
John Chaplin says: The other riders in the Brough Park picture with Jack Parker are Will Lowther on the outside and Jeff Lloyd at the back.
 

 
 
Kyra's Photographs
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

1949 Newcastle Diamonds Transferred To

Glasgow Ashfield Giants

 

Courtesy of Norman McNamee

 
This Newcastle side, was transferred by Johnnie Hoskins to Glasgow Ashfield in 1949, Newcastle then imported Middlesbrough's team which had closed its doors.  Can you name the riders? John
 
 
Newcastle Magpies 1949 Programmes
 
 

 
 

1949-51 Son Mitchell

 
 
 
This is Son Mitchell (1949) another of the ex Middlesbrough riders who came to Brough when the Boro's license and assets were transferred to Newcastle for the 1949 season.  As he is wearing a diamond in the first picture and not the Magpies "N" it appears to be from a year other than 1949, my guess would be 1950?  Tell me if I am wrong!
Eric Watson has been in touch about the above picture he says: - Answer : Well the picture could have been taken 1950 or even 1951 as the Diamond Jacket was used in both of these years. Likewise Son Mitchell rode for Newcastle in both years. So you can safely annotate it "Newcastle 1950-51"
 
 
Son Mitchell & Joe Arthur
 
 
Son Mitchell and Joe Arthur for Newcastle. Joe Arthur was a Middlesbrough reserve who moved up to Newcastle in 1949.  Don't know who the opposition rider is, whom has fallen.  These white jerseys had a large black N on the front.
 
Courtesy of Colin Greenwell
 

 
 

The Hodgson Brothers

 

Picture Courtesy of Colin Greenwell

 
This is Jack Hodgson ex Middlesborough rider who came to Brough when the Boro's license and assets were transferred to Newcastle for the 1949 season.  Jack was one of a few Brothers double acts that the team has had in their colours. The Creasors, The Stobbarts, The Hodgsons, The Owens, The Greens and The Worralls  spring to mind.  Anyone know any other Brothers who rode together for Newcastle? John
 
 

Picture Courtesy of Colin Greenwell

 
This is Jacks brother Frank Hodgson signing something in 1950 ish, or was he just marking up his programme?  No! this is what he was signing: Well it appears he was signing his Newcastle contract?  The witness was the Newcastle promoter Harry Whitfield who also rode pre-war, here's a shot of Harry (below), in his younger riding days at Wembley, Gordon Byers told me that Harry was a rider who should have won more races than he did.  But riding for the Wembley Lions must have been lucrative as Gordon says he often picked up 50 quid for a nights work when the weekly wage back home in the Naval Yard back on Tyneside was about £2.10/- in them days! 
 
 
 
Wembley stadium was often packed for speedway matches then and both Sunderland born Gordon Byers and Harry were riding in front of 70,000 or 80,000 crowds: -  My last visit to Wembley was way back in 1975 for a world final won by ex-Diamond Ole Olsen.  It was a full house then and I remember being carried along without my feet touching the ground by the crowd on the way out!
 

Picture Courtesy of Colin Greenwell

 
Frank Hodgson riding in the 1949 Newcastle race jacket.  Look at the face mask! was he a fan of Al Jolson I wonder?  Thank you Colin for these pictures all of which are of Newcastle riders with a Middlesbrough connection. Let's hope your team gets back on track somewhere on Tees-side real soon. 
Update: speedway is back on Tees-side The bears roar again under the name Redcar Bears.
 

 
Benny King Wilf Jay Leading
Alec Grant & Don Lawson
 
 
Eric Watson says: it is not Benny King leading, it is Wilf Jay.  John says: I stand corrected, thank you for helping me out
 
 

 
1949 Newcastle Magpies v
Cradley Heath Heathens
 
 
This is action from Brough Park 1949.  Seems Cradley Heath suffered from a lack of imagination as well as Newcastle as regards the race jackets and also the caption names the two "Heathens" but not the Newcastle rider.  Help me with this please is it Frank Hodgson?
Eric Watson says: -This is Brough Park in 1949 it is of Herby King (Newcastle) leading Alan Hunt (CH) while the rider in the middle by the fence is Bill Kemp (CH)
 

 
 

Will Lowther

 
 
Eric Watson has supplied an additional pen picture for Will see below:-
WILL LOWTHER. Born Gateshead 1913. A man of many tracks, Lowther started riding on grass at Tyneside and got his first ride on cinders at Bristol in 1934. He was afterwards identified with Harringay , New Cross, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Wimbledon, where in 1936 an injury to his spine  almost threatened to end his career. He was Captain of  Glasgow ‘Lions’ (yes Lions not Tigers) in 1939 and immediately prior to the War rode for Middlesbrough. Then after the War he re-joined Glasgow as Captain again and was their top points scorer in 1946 with 172 pts. In 1947 he got 253 League points (an average of 10. 4), and in 1948 totaled 403 pts for a % of 62. 3. In 1949 he scored 247 pts. In 1950 he moved to Newcastle and scored 134. 5 points. He moved to Motherwell in 1951 scoring a total of 120 pts and in 1952 a total of 166 pts. After that he must have retired as there no more information on him at all.
 

 
 

Will Lowther  Wal Morton

 
 
Col Greenwell says:  You have a large photo which you have named as Will Lowther. I really think it is Wal Morton, not Will. Anyone agree with me?  Email me if you agree with Col  John
Eric Watson says: I agree with Col Greenwell's statement below it - it is not Will Lowther but is definitely a photo of Wal Morton
John says:  oo-er! I don't know my Will from my Wal, thanks for putting me right with this photo
 

 

Wilf Jay

 
 
 
Wilf Jay and Derek Close in the N race jackets, what imagination whomever it was that decided to dispense with the diamond in favour of it had. Although It looked ok on a pair of novelty ear rings! pictured below.
 
 
 
 
 
Wilf Jay at full throttle 
 
 
 

Newcastle captain Norman Evans and Wilf Jay

 

 
 

Tommy Bateman

 
 
 
 
 
Tommy Bateman and Derek Close  
 
 
 

Tommy posing at an unknown venue

 

 
 

1948 Newcastle Diamonds

 
 Courtesy of Barry Stephenson
 
Philip Dalling says:  Peter Lloyd, Ken Le Breton,  Alec Grant,  Jack Hunt,  Johnnie Hoskins (promoter), Danny Calder, Norman Evans (on machine), Charlie Spinks, Crusty Pye,  Wilf Jay and Keith Gurtner.
 

 
 
 1948 Programme
Newcastle v Glasgow
 
 

 
 
Newcastle Magpies  1949 Programme
 
 
 
1949: Magpie Earrings
 

 
 
Ern Brecknell
 
 

 
 
1950 Newcastle Diamonds Team
 
 
 
A better quality photo of the pic shown above with the caption showing the riders names.  The two photos must have been taken a split second apart
 

 
 
Wilf Jay Leading From
Ern Brecknell  
 
 
Diamonds: Wilf Jay leading from Ern Brecknell The visiting riders are Stoke Potters, can anyone name the potters riders? John
 
 

 
 
1951 Programme
Newcastle Diamonds v Liverpool Chads
 
 

 
 
Derek Close
Newcastle 1949-51
 
 
 
 

1950 Derek Close Left & Tommy Bateman

 
 

 
 
  Ivan Stephenson's Photographs
 
Every now and then someone comes forward with photographs or memories from the Diamonds long history.  In this section Ivan Stephenson has supplied the Newcastle Speedway History website with a number of photos from his excellent collection.  Ivan was a well known figure at Brough Park working tirelessly pitside.  Some of his photos follow below: -
 
 
Brough Park 1946
 
 
Australian Syd Littlewood Newcastle 1946 he also rode for Newcastle in 1939.  Younger fans will not recognise Brough Park in this picture.  That is the back straight grandstand demolished many years ago.
 
 
Brough Park July 1948
 
 
Brough Park July 1948 Jack Parker Belle Vue, Will Lowther Glasgow and Jeff Lloyd, ex Newcastle Diamond 1946-48 
 
 
Brough Park 1949 
 
 

Brough Park 1949 Paddy Mills Norwich, Jack Hodgson Frank Hodgson Newcastle

 
 
Mike Tams 
 
 
Mike Tams Canada. Newcastle 1950-51 Southampton 1952-53.  
 
 
1946 Norman Evans Newcastle
 
 
Norman rode for the Diamonds as captain 1946-48.  The picture does not appear to have been taken at Brough Park and I do not recognise the track. If you can say where the photo was taken please email me John
 
 
1946-48 Australian
Charlie Spinks
 
 
Charlie Spinks Australian Newcastle Diamond Brough Park. (1946 1928 Lea Bridge,) (1932,36,38, West Ham,) (Newcastle Diamonds 1946-1948)  
 
 
1946 Will Lowther Glasgow & 
Norman Evans Newcastle
 
 
 
1946 Diamond Jeff Lloyd
 
 
Jeff Lloyd /Crystal Palace, Bristol 1939. Hall Green Birmingham 1938. Newcastle 1946. New Cross 1947-49. Harringay 1950-54.  
 
My thanks to Ivan Stephenson for supplying the above photographs
 

 
 

Red & White Diamonds

 
Not a lot of people know this but until 1961 Newcastle Diamonds had been in red and white (apart from their Newcastle Magpies year 1949, when they were black and white with a large N on their race jackets).  Pre 1960s, the world of photography was usually seen in monochrome.  Black and White photos did not show up a red race jacket at all and if you have seen old photos of Newcastle riders you will probably think our riders rode in black and white as they did until recent years 2014 etc., where the prominent race suit colour is blue.  In modern times it is unthinkable for us to be red and white like the enemy at the stadium of light.  
 
I have been trying for years to uncover colour pics pre 1961 to show the red n white diamonds jackets.  I have received some blurry images from 1948 of Newcastle riders wearing Red n White race jackets, shown below.  If anyone has any good colour pictures of our Red and White period riders please consider sharing them via this website.  If you have any photos email me here.  John
 
Jack Hunt and Wilf Jay
 
 
 Charlie Spinks, Norman Evans and Ken Le Breton
 
 

Max Grosskreutz, Wilf Jay and Jack Parker

 
These 6 blurry colour images are from Newcastle's 1948 Northumberland Cup meeting.  If you can help with any info from the meeting please send me an email.  John
 
 
Veteran rider Tag Allison showing the 1940s Diamonds body colour.  It seems red and white was used in 1938-39, 1946-48, 1950-51 and changed to a large N for the 1949 Magpies season with the change of promoter.  The familiar black and white diamond was seen for the first time in 1961
 

 
 

1951 Newcastle

 
 
Col Greenwell says: Hi John.  A few guesses for you.  First rider on the left. Son Mitchell. (leaning on bike). next to Son, Wal Morton....next to Wal, Don Wilkinson.....certainly Derek Close on bike.
 
 
So 1951 was the end for the Diamonds, 10 barren years followed without the sport in the City.  Thankfully the Brough Park Greyhounds Association kept the stadium in good repair making any speedway comeback a lot easier.  
 
Newcastle closed at the end of the 1951 season and did not re-open until Promoter, Mike Parker came along in 1961.  So the 1950's more or less passed by without any speedway on Tyneside. Can anyone tell us the reasons why? as the crowds were bigger in those days than they are now. So why was Newcastle a speedway free zone for most of the 1950's?
Update: the possible reason for the absence of speedway during the 1950's may have been due to the government introducing an "entertainment tax"? Can anyone confirm that this is why there was no speedway in Newcastle for 9 years?
 

Eric Watson says: Question : Was the Entertainment Tax the reason for no Speedway at Newcastle for 9 years (from 1952 to 1960) ?

1. To answer this I should like to give you my background experience to show that I have some sort of  answer for you. I first saw Speedway at the age of 12 in 1947, in my home town of Southampton, at Charlie Knott’s Banister Court Stadium, just two years after the War and with Food Rationing still in force. After 6 years (1939-1945) of Cinema entertainment, Speedway Racing was a ‘God’ send, with its ‘Thrills & Spills’ and the smell of Castrol R oil fumes. For 3 years up to 1950 we reveled in this fantastic new sport. But in 1950 it all changed, yes the Entertainment Tax of 45% in the £1, was to be a MAJOR contributory factor in Speedway’s decline for the next 10 years until 1960 when it was abolished. The Tax caused Gate Prices to almost double overnight – bringing a rapid fall in attendances, with the consequential closure of 24 Tracks between 1951 and 1958. Four Tracks closed down forever, 14 more didn’t re-open again until after 1960 when the Tax was stopped.  

 2. However it wasn’t entirely due to the Tax, the British Isles had a new form of entertainment to counter the sport of Speedway, in the form of Television and where previously TV sets had been very expensive and beyond the means of the working man, they were suddenly available to everyone to rent from Radio Rentals, for a reasonable weekly fee. So every one was viewing the new media in the comfort of their own homes. Another thing that didn’t help the lost Gate attendances, was that Petrol (rationed all through the War & for several years after the War) became de-rationed in May 1950, so allowing Families to use their Car again to travel long journeys all over the Country and on Holiday.

 3. At Newcastle the distress signals came all season and it was only the sensational riding of newly discovered Star Rider Derek Close that kept them in business. The 3rd New Management in as many seasons, were constantly demanding bigger crowds by July 1950, to be viable. Rumours of closure in August 1950 were denied – but they did sell popular veteran rider Frank Hodgson to Glasgow-White City.

 4. It was much the same in 1951 and Roy Dook was appointed as Team Manager. But the Team performance was so bad, that Roy put his leathers back on and started riding again. But the Speedway was virtually dead in Tyneside and any hope of revival went with the Transfer of Derek Close to Motherwell. Even with Close the Team performances were bad, with only Derek Close, Son Mitchell & Don Wilkinson escaping any criticism.

 5. A further nail in the coffin was that the Government increased the Entertainment Tax from 45% in the £1 to 52% in the £1, arguing that it was classified as a sport of speed rather than of skill. Needless to say Newcastle finished bottom of the 2nd Division National League table with only 15 points from 30 matches, winning 7 with 1 draw and 22 losses. They had 1039 Match points for them and 1472 Match points against them. This was so sad for a quality side like them. They were (when at their best) an exciting Team to watch and rode very well against Southampton ‘Saints’ at Banister Court (a Match I saw) in 1950 although ‘Saints’ won 53-31, the ‘Diamonds got their revenge back at Brough Park beating Southampton 46-38. In those days (at Southampton) the League Matches were over 14 Heats, with 6 Main Riders and 2 Reserves per side. Then a 2nd half of 6 to 7 Heats of Scratch Races, with 2 Heats always dedicated to Juniors/Novice Riders. 

6. I know this is no consolation but in 1951 Southampton closed down a lot earlier than your Newcastle did. ‘Saints’ only rode for 7 meetings before closure. Although we were lucky as we re-opened the following year in 1952 in a lower Division in the newly formed Southern League. We had 3 seasoned Riders plus a lot of Juniors & Novices in our side, which of course kept the cost of wages down, and running Speedway in a lower Division was also cheaper. I was amazed that we didn’t fail in that return year. But we developed a lot of good Riders that got better with each season. We lasted until our final closure in 1963. The Stadium plus Ice Rink Arena (with the Southampton ‘Vikings’ Ice Hockey Team) all closed down with site being sold for Housing Development. The closure was so unexpected because the year before in 1962, the ‘Saints’ had just won the National League Championship Title, with top Riders such as Barry Briggs, Bjorn Knutsson, Peter Vandenberg plus strong support riders Alby Golden, Cyril Roger and Dick Bradley. Sadly Southampton has now been without  Speedway Racing, Ice Skating & Ice Hockey for 46 years. If I want to see Speedway now I have to travel to Poole in Dorset or Swindon in Wiltshire.

 7. As to why you didn’t have Speedway in Newcastle for 9 years (1952-1960) I don’t know. I have given you the cause for closure (Tax & TV viewing) so I can only assume that because of the crippling Tax 52%  most of  the prospective Promoters, couldn’t persuade their Financial backers to open their purse strings and take a chance on the situation getting better – which of course it did in 1960, and by 1961 you were back in business. I am sure the Council would have supported any application to run Speedway again as would have the Speedway Control Board Authorities. Because after all the Brough Park Stadium was still there, intact and ready to go.  As the re-opening in 1997 by Promoters George English & Dave Rowlands proved when they opened up on behalf of ‘Newspeed Ltd’.

 8. I hope this throws some light on the topic for you, and allows you to put some snippets into the Web site to show why Newcastle was without Speedway for so long.

Best Regards,

Eric Watson

 

 
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