LAUREL AND HARDY PAY A VISIT TO DOG TRACK.
Yes its true the famous comedy duo of the 1930’s and 40’s did at one point became the centre of attention at Wigan’s Poolstock Greyhound Stadium. OK hands up, it was not to watch the greyhounds but there appearance was to promote the opening of Speedway Racing at the stadium. Both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were keen Speedway followers, and while on tour in the north west during the spring of 1947, accepted the offer to make an appearance at the opening meeting. That meeting took place on 4th of April with both Stan and Oliver, complete with their bowler hats, being driven around the circuit in an open top Jeep in front of very impressive estimated 5,000 onlookers. Although healthy crowds supported the Speedway well financially throughout the Summer of 1947, a dispute between the greyhound company and the Speedway promoters had seen the sport come to an end by October of that year. Speedway did make a return to Poolstock once again this time during 1960, but it was for just one season only. During the 1950’s Stock Car racing featured, but the sport failed miserably mainly due to lack of interest from the public. Greyhound Racing was the main attraction at Poolstock, and just to note that it must not be mistaken by another greyhound racing venue on the opposite side of the town, known as The Woodhouse Lane Stadium. Not surprisingly Poolstock Stadium was named after the district of Poolstock, in an area that was made up of vast amounts of terraced houses situated roughly three quarters of a mile south of Wigan town centre. The venue had been constructed on an abandoned cluster of garden allotments, and also the site of an old bowling club which lay adjacent to the River Douglas. Although more recognised as an independent track, Poolstock did stage events under rules similar to those of the NGRC, ready for its opening meeting on the 9th of March 1932. As for the racing side of things, the hounds contested on a narrow track, due to its width races were based on just five greyhounds only, with an inside Sumner type hare acting as the lure. Poolstock in its heyday could be best described as a big galloping track, mainly down to its long straights, with races being staged over distances of 314, 530 and 750 yards. Yet by the early 1970’s the stadium had become so run down, that it was certainly in need of some sort of cash investment. But its close proximity to the town centre had caught the imagination of developers which in turn witnessed the ten acre site being sold.
Sadly, Poolstock staged its final meeting on the 28th of February 1973, with anything of any value becoming sold off soon after. The site soon became target for vandals, with anything of value falling in to the hands of thieves. Nature played its part also, by totally overwhelming the site with weeds and shrubbery, and by 1977 the stadium lay in a totally derelict state. What was left of the venue became demolished, and by the end of the 1970’s new housing began to cover the site. Today it is very unlikely that you will find any evidence of the old Poolstock Stadium, as houses situated on either side of Baker Street, plus a handful on Ryton Close, now covers the entire site.