GREYHOUNDS FOUND UNATTENDED IN A BUSY SHOPPING STREET.
In my view one of the most dissapointing features regarding greyhound racing venues is that little is reminded by its local council of their existence. Of all those venues that once existed throughout the last 90 odd years or so, virtually no town across the UK seems to have honoured their local track. Yet out of all the 200 towns or so it seems that the only town to have made an effort is Stockton-on-Tees. The town of Stockton-on-Tees is a busy industrial area located in the north east of England, clinging on to the southern fringes of Middlesborough.Their appreciation of the sport is found on one of their shopping streets, and it is there that three unattended hounds seem to skip merrily without any concern at all. OK they might seem happy enough, but their prescence has been there for many years, their cast iron bodies seemed to have coped well with the winter elements thrown at them from the North Sea winds. But the big question is what are they there for ?. Yes, Stockton did host greyhound racing after all, with a venue known as Belle Vue Park found roughly one mile north east of its town centre.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF BELLE VUE PARK.
Belle Vue Park had developed during the months following the end of the Second World War, on a site close to a meadow that was used for whippet racing during the early 1930’s known to the locals as Portrack Park.The newly prepared greyhound track lay around the perimeter of a football pitch, complete with an inside Sumner type hare system controlled from a hut situated within the infield of the track, similar to those venue’s found at Swansea and Auchinleck. Opening up as a flapping track, its first meeting came on the on 1st of June 1946, with races consisting of six hounds contesting over a 440 yards trip.The venue became popular with locals instantly, so popular that the greyhounds were often found parading up and down Stockton’s High Street by their owners, hours prior to them racing.The reason for their actions was so punters could judge themselves regarding the condition of the dog, whether good or bad which would hope to influence the betting on the race at the track later.It is because of these actions in the past that these events are still remembered today, with statues of three different coloured cast iron greyhounds clearly on view for the public to see.The Stadium’s success lasted for almost thirty years, but by the early 1970’s had become another target for developers, and closed around 1974. Eventually the site was bulldozed and disappeared beneath housing now known as Belle Vue Court, who’s access road acts as a pinpointer to were the spine of the track once lay.The location of the old track lies just off Norton Road, situated behind The Brown Jug Public House, which guides you down along Windmill Terrace and into Belle Vue Court. Sadly, nothing remains of the old venue, but there is one good thing is that the memories of the sport will never be forgotten as long as those three cast iron hounds remain unattended in the main street.