Post War
Newcastle Riders
 

1945 to 1951 Part 1

 
 

Syd Littlewood     Charlie Spinks     Norman Evans     Rol & Maurice Stobbart     Ken Le Breton    Johnny Hunt

 
 
Track action started up again on Tyneside after the war but only at Brough Park.  The Whitley Bay and Gosforth Speedways were by now nothing more than fading memories.  Johnnie Hoskins reopened Brough in 1945 and the track operated under an open license.  League racing returned from 1946.
I confess to not knowing much about many of the 40's and 50's Newcastle riders, because I did not start supporting as a young lad until 1961.  I am unearthing bits of information and an odd picture here and there so rest assured this site will be constantly updated until I decide to get out more!
 

My uncle, George Ince has come to the rescue and supplied the site with a number of his pictures and memories of this period, Thanks Georgie!

 

 
 
Newcastle "Harts"
Cycle Speedway Team
 
Picture courtesy of Georgie Ince
 
Could this be the first Cycle Speedway Team in Newcastle? This is the Harts Cycle Speedway Team from the 1940's.  Left to Right: unknown, Billy Miller, Billy Bird, with my uncle George Ince in the middle.  Anyone recognise any of the  lads faces? 
Jim "Nosey" Parker has been in touch That's Jim in the white Jersey. he says George Moody is the first on the left, He became a Jeweller and lives in Felixstowe, The little one in front is Alex Temple who emigrated to South Africa.  Far right is B Gill
 

 
 
"My Uncle"
George Ince's Photos
 
Uncle Georgie was handy with a camera and took the following shots himself
 
 
 
The two pictures above, are from Brough Park pits 1946. Above left Jeff Lloyd and the Newcastle Captain Norman Evans is above right. Another shot of Norman Evans below left, trademark cigarette in mouth and the picture at bottom right shows a massive crowd all the way around the stadium.
 
 
   
1940's and 50's riders apparently turned up for meetings in suits, white shirts and ties and long raincoats, so these pitside shots make identification of the riders difficult. They all look like promoters!
 
 
   
Australian Ron Johnson above left.  American Wilbur Lamoreaux above right.  Bottom left: Aussie Syd Littlewood and bottom right Canadian Eric Chitty: 
 
 
 
 
 
Above left: Newcastle Promoter John S Hoskins (light coloured suit) and rider Wilf Jay.  Above right not able to put names to all four but second from left is Oliver Hart and the guy with back to camera is Alec Grant.
 

 
 
American Wilbur Lamoreaux With Fans,
Billy Smith (Left) &
Jim Parker
 
 

 Both lads are sporting speedway lapel badges and all three look like they have Brylcremed their hair.  The photo was sent in by "young" Jim now 75.  It would be great to hear from Billy Smith

 
Jim Parker says: Hi John I haven't visited the site for a while...so much new stuff...wonderful memories poured back tonight...many thanks for all your efforts.....for the record...it was Johnny Hunt always...I never knew him to use Jacky as a first name...I was so involved with him spending time in the Brough Park garages  helping to clean his leathers and his bike...I remember the crash he had and the injuries he suffered....his arm was in a support for a long time.....Ern Brecknell was also well known to me...he lodged with a Mrs Rogerson in Grace Street which was next to Brough Park....you mention attendances.....Gala night was very special once a year event...it was ticket only evening....because people turned up without a ticket  one year I was given satchell and sent to  stand outside the Grace Street entrance taking money for tickets....I handed over a bulging bag of money to a Miss McQueen...who ran the office for Johnny Hoskins......I was often in the Kiosks around Brough Parks selling programmes, badges and bars and photos of the team.......dear oh dear....my wasted youth....if your uncle,George Ince, is still going strong....give him my regards...Jim Parker
 

 
Johnny Hunt aka
Jack/Jackie Hunt

 
Courtesy of Bob Andrews 
 
 

Johnny Hunt being presented with a shield in Lower Hutt, New Zealand.  Jack/Johnny Hunt rode for Newcastle Diamonds in 1947. He is frequently called Jack, Jackie, John or Johnny.  His family know him as Johnny so I will try to call him that too. 
His Granddaughter Kyra Hunt says: I have contacted my uncle in New Zealand and he has confirmed that my Grandfather was known as Jackie Hunt in England when he was racing. I have only known my Pop  as Johnny/John Hunt. He is going to send me his photo album with all his memorabilia from his racing days in England during the 40s and 50s They included all his team mates as well. If you are interested I can forward them onto you .
John Skinner says: If you will send me scans of the pictures I will do a large pictorial tribute to him on the website

 
 
Johnny In This Diamonds Team 
 
 
 
Johnny Hunt, fourth from the left 
 
 
 Courtesy John Hunter via Dave Rowland 
 
Johnny Hunt aboard a great looking JAP.  His tank decal calls the machine the " Hunt Special".  I don't know anything about Jack/Johnny or his bike so if you can say if Jack was a ace engineer and his bike was an improvement on an already pretty good product I would love to hear from you John 
 
 
 

The rider in the middle wearing the black clothing is Danny Caulder and the guy doing all the work is New Zealander, Jack Hunt.  An unusual shot of a bike turned upside down to work on.  I suppose these guys know best but wouldn't the fuel and oil spill out?

 

 
 
Charlie Spinks
 
 

Jim Parker's photo of Charlie Spinks

 

 
 

Syd Littlewood

 
 

Syd Littlewood - A Newcastle rider 1939 and 1946

 
Tony Webb writes: The career of  Australia,  Norwich and Newcastle leg trailing star  Syd Littlewood  began on the dirt tracks and grass tracks of Victoria  in 1936.  Syd who was born in 1914, had an early love of motorcycling in general. After he completed his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner he embarked on a 17 year career as a professional speedway rider. Syd was always insistent that his name was spelt Syd and not Sid. After obtaining rides in Melbourne in 1937 he made the overland trek to Western Australia to begin his voyage to England in March 1938. On the way from Victoria to the West he raced at Adelaide and Claremont in Perth. It was to be 12 years before he would see his homeland again.
 
On arrival in England he was signed by Max Grosskruetz for the Norwich Stars where he made his home base.  His first meeting in the Norwich colours was at Birmingham on  Saturday April 23  when he scored 2 paid three from 2 rides. In that first season he had 4 home meetings and 8 away meetings as reserve and was a regular in the second half events at the Firs. he also appeared in the 1938 World championship round on June 4 but failed to score.  In his last meeting for Norwich on November 5th he won the Eastern Counties Championship and Willmott Cup,  which today is proudly displayed at his son Trevor’s home in Brisbane. A rewarding climax to his first year in England.
 

1939 saw Syd join the Newcastle Diamonds team in the same division as Norwich. Syd had a regular team place with his new team and in July Norwich supporters saw just how much Syd had improved as he was in the team that won the English Trophy final at the expense of the Stars. Syd scored 7 in each leg of the final as his team edged home winners by 84-82. Newcastle were at the top of the League table when racing stopped for the duration of the war. 

 
On the outbreak of war which curtailed the 1939 season, with Newcastle heading the division.  Syd’s attempt to join the Australian forces was denied due to the fact his engineering skills were required for the war effort in England. He spent the war years making secret equipment for submarines. Syd married a Norwich girl Gladys in 1940, their only son Trevor was born in Norwich in 1941
 
The war did not prevent some speedway action and reports indicate that  Syd rode for a Norwich team at Dick Case’s track at Rye House on June 29 and August 24 1941.  The first post-war meeting for Syd was an unofficial test match against Australia v England held at Odsal in August. He scored 2 points from the reserve position
 
In early 1946 the Speedway Control Board pooled all riders for allocation. Riders were also graded and paid according to their respective grade. As a number 4 grade  rider Syd was entitled the sum of fifteen shillings a start and the same amount per point. He was allocated back to Newcastle under the Johnny Hoskins promotion, Syd had a great respect for “Roaring Johnny” and held in high esteem
 
In 1946 Syd was again a regular in the Diamonds side and held his team place throughout that first post-war season. He scored 112 points in that season to give him the third heat leader position alongside Jeff Lloyd and Norman Evans. Also in the Diamonds team was fellow Queenslander Charlie Spinks. At the end of the year he returned to Norwich in an exchange deal for Wilf Jay.
 

Syd passed away aged 86 at  a Logan, Queensland nursing home on 24/11/2000, he is survived by his wife Gladys at 96 and his son Trevor.

 

This text: copyright Tony Webb 7/5/2007.  (Thank you Tony for allowing me to use this on the website)

 
 

Syd in 1939

 
 
   

1946: Syd on the right with Newcastle team mate Jeff Lloyd  Syd in Norwich colours, 1947: outside, battling it out with leg trailer Charlie Spinks

 

These above 3 photos were supplied by Gladys and Trevor Littlewood

 
`
Courtesy of Gordon Heiniger
 
 
Another couple of pictures of Syd (1946) Thanks go to Norwich fan Michael Kemp for supplying them
 

 
 

Charlie Spinks

 

Courtesy of Gordon Heiniger
 
 

A Newcastle Diamond in 1946: The Spectacular Charlie Spinks

 
 Charlie Spinks 
"Dare Devil Charlie"
 

By Tony Webb

 
Tony Webb writes: One of the original pioneer riders who travelled to England in 1928, Charlie was still thrilling the Ekka faithful two decades later with his all action style.
 
Charlie Charles Augusta Spinks was born in  Singleton NSW 9/4/1904..He moved to Toowoomba Queensland in 1925 and worked as a bricklayer. Charlie was seriously injured at Maryborough early in his career on the 7.2.192, he recovered to ride in the first meeting at the Ekka on 16/10/1926.  Charlie gained an A  class pilots licence in early 1929. He hit the headlines in October of that year when he was rescued from the sea at Coffs Harbour after the plane he was delivering to Brisbane ditched in the ocean.. Charlie rode at Newcastle, Lismore  Maitland , Cessnock and Werribe Park Toowoomba before travelling to UK in 1928.with the A J Hunting party
 
Charlie raced in open meetings around the London tracks in 1928, returning to Brisbane in December for the Davies park season. He linked with Exeter in the 1929 Southern league,  Coming back to London in 1930 he joined the ill fated Lea Bridge team. After a successful 1930/31 season back in Brisbane he arrived back at Lea Bridge to find  the the track was outlawed due to the promoters introducing on track betting. Charlie rode for the Overseas in an un-official international at West Ham scoring 2 points, then rode a few meetings for Southampton before joining West ham where he remained until 1939. He appeared in an Overseas side at West Ham in 1937 scoring 2 points then in  a Dominions team for 3 matches in 1938. Served in the UK during World War Two. He was one of four  Queensland based Australians who spent the war years in  UK, the other three were Bert Spencer, Bluey Thorpe and Syd Littlewood. Charlie was in the RAF,.After the war he was one of a party of 12 riders who travelled to Germany to race  on the BAOR tracks , There have been reports that he rode in the war time meetings at Belle Vue,  but to date I have not seen evidence of that. He was named as a third grade rider at a pound a point, a pound a start, in the the 1946 Speedway Control board allocation and posted to Bradford but in fact joined Newcastle, although he did race for an un-official Australian team against England at Bradford in October 1945. Returned to Australia at the end of 1946 where he remained until 1948 when Johnnie Hoskins his old boss at West Ham recalled him to help out again at Newcastle. This was his last season in UK.  On his return to the Ekka he showed the fans he was still a class act by winning the final on his first appearance, beating Aub Lawson in his second meeting as well as breaking the track record. Charlie claimed in a press report that food supplies in Britain were so limited he had to  resort  to eating horse meat, he was glad to get back home to Australian tucker! 
 
For Australia he rode in the second test in 1930 and became a regular cap for Australia both at home and in the UK, riding in 28 matches. His best test score came at the end of his career in the 1950/51 series when he astounded his local fans with a 10 point score at the Ekka., not bad for a man in his forty sixth year.  Second in the Queensland titles in 1947 and third in  1949. Star Championship contender 1931. Retiring from racing in 1953, Charlie ran a taxi business in Brisbane until retirement to Victoria Point. Queensland in 1965 taking up fishing on the bay. He passed away in Brisbane 15/10/1987.
 
This text: copyright Tony Webb 7/5/2007.  (Thank you Tony for allowing me to use this on the website)
 
 
 
 

 
Charlie Spinks avoiding the fallen Syd Littlewood
 
 
1930 Charlie Spinks
 
 
Charlie Spinks at White City.  Picture taken around 1930.  He progressed from the early bikes, like this Douglas onto the Speedway JAPs which dominated the sport in 1946 when Charlie rode for the Diamonds.
 

 
 

Norman Evans

 
A Newcastle rider 1946, 47 & 1948.  Norman was 42 when he joined Newcastle in 1946. 
 
 
 
 
Norman in colour with the red and white race jacket.  It looks like Jeff Lloyd behind Norman
 
 
 
 
 
  
 

2 Shots of Norman taken before he joined Newcastle

 
 

Courtesy of Gordon Heiniger

 

 
 
Cumbria's Stobbart Bros

Rol & Maurice Stobbart

 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Ken Le Breton

 

The White Ghost

 
 
 
 
 

Ken le Breton photo supplied by Jim Parker.  A Newcastle rider, 1947 and 48 before promoter Johnny Hoskins pulled out of Newcastle and took most of the 1948 Newcastle team, Ken included, to ride for him at Glasgow Ashfield.

 
 
 

Poor quality photo.  I only included it as it was a rare colour shot and because it shows the red and white diamond.  Ken's best form came after he left Newcastle and was riding for Glasgow at Ashfield

 
 
Some of the photos came from my Australian friend Brian Darby a member of the Veteran speedway riders association of Australia and a professional Speedway Photographer too.  Other pictures were fromm Byker'ssGeorgee Inceeand put together this site probably has more of the White Ghost than any site in the worldd. This guy new how to dress for the occasion!This guy new how to dress for the occasion!  Ken's white leathers earned him his White Ghost nickname.  He rode for Newcastle under Johnnie Hoskins from 1947 until the end of the 1948 season. The other rider above is West Ham's Aub Lawson.
 
 
Courtesy John Hunter via Dave Rowland
 

Ken at Brough Park aboard a bike named Joan after his wife

 
 

Ken Le Breton  At The Sydney Sports Ground, In February 1948

 
 
 

Ken was one of Australia's finest riders.  He took his Diamond race jacket with him back to Australia and didn't it look good on him.  Ken moved to Ashfield, Glasgow in 1949 and his riding really took off, Glasgow saw the white ghost at his very best.

 
 
 
 
Oliver Hart &
Ken Le Breton 
 
 
 

One of Brian Darby's pictures: Thanks Brian great shot.  They are Oliver Hart and Ken Le Breton.  Ken's image was a photographers dream but he wasn't just a Fancy Dan he was a real gritty racer too.

 
 
A great photo of  "The White Ghost" in action
 
 

Ken At Home In Sydney

 
 
 
 
 

More of Brian Darby's pictures: Thanks Brian great shots of our White Ghost

 
 
 
Ken in his countries' colours 
 
 
Ken & The Jet Bikes! 
 
 
 
 

The above picture was supplied by Bill Walsh.  One can only wonder at the noise the jets may have made.  They would probably fail modern noise tests and health and safety would have something to say about them too.

 

Johnnie Hoskins decided to move his "assets", the Newcastle Diamonds, to Glasgow and took most of our 1948 team with him.  So the white ghost left Brough Park at the end of the 1948 season.

 
 
Extract From
"Who's Who"
 
 
 
The White Ghost and Red Devil! Thought you might find this piece from the 1949 who’s who interesting. As you can see Ken changed from being the "White Ghost" to the "Red Devil" at the end of 1948. I’ve attached a photo, below of him riding for Ashfield.  
 
 
 
I presume his top half was red?  Or did he ride completely in red too. 
 
 
Tragedy Strikes!
 
 
 
On 5th January 1951 Francis (Ken) Le Breton lost his life at his home track, the Sydney Sports Ground Speedway, during the 2nd Australia v England Test match of the 1950-51 season.  Ken collided with Englishman Eddie Rigg in the final turn of Heat 18 in a desperate effort to take 3rd place from Rigg.
The Australian White Ghost, Ken Le Breton, will always be associated with the Newcastle Diamonds.
 
 Ken Le Breton lost in deep thought?
 

Picture courtesy of George Ince : Ken Le Breton Deep in Thought?

 
Continue with more from this era? 1940's /50's part 2
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