Abbey Stadium, Lady Lane, Blunsdon, Nr Swindon, Wiltshire.
LOCATED————————————-On the B4534 just off the A419, half a mile south west of Blunsden village, four and a half miles north of Swindon.
ORIGINAL SITE——————————Farm grazing Land.
DATE VENUE OPENED——————-1949 for speedway.
Meaning other sports may have taken place prior to the arrival of Greyhound Racing.
FIRST MEETING—————————–November 1st 1952.
Greyhound Racing only.
LICENSED OR INDEPENDENT———-Switched from independent to NGRC in April 1968.
All venues covered would have to be licensed with the government, licensed suggested in this section would refer to tracks operating under NGRC Rules.
INSIDE OR OUTSIDE HARE TYPE——Outside Swaffham was inside Sumner up until 1984.
Please note that the Electric Hare suggested is only a guidance and would have been in operation for a certain amount of time at this venue. Although it is not necessarily guaranteed that it was operational all the time, as other types of lure may have been used and updated as time progressed.
DISTANCES———————————–274, 480, 510, 685 and 730 metres.
Please note that most racing venues distances had become varied throughout the years, the ones given above were at once point set and offers only a guidance to the track size.
Please note that alterations at most racing venues throughout its existence would see that the circumference of the track would vary, the one shown above offers only a guidance to the track size.
BIG RACE NAMES—————————The British Produde Stakes, Pride of the West and The Arc.
STADIUM SHARED WITH—————–Stock Car racing and Speedway.
LAST MEETING——————————Still going.
Greyhound Racing only.
STADIUM CLOSURE DATE—————N/A
Meaning other sports may have taken place after Greyhound Racing had ceased.
BUILT ON SITE——————————N/A
In some cases, structure’s that originally covered the venue after the stadium had been demolished, may have been themselves demolished too, so the one described is more likely to be the one which now presently covers the site.
EVIDENCE LEFT TODAY——————Still operational.
FURTHER COMMENTS——————-New stadium in the near future fingers crossed.
Another greyhound stadium still in operation today, is the one found in the small Wiltshire town of Blunsden, a town located almost five miles north of Swindon town centre. More recognised to the greyhound fraternity as the Abbey or Swindon Greyhound Stadium, it is situated close to the junction of the B4534 and A419 trunk road.
The stadium’s history suggests that it should be best described as a multi sports venue, with Greyhound Racing and Speedway having been its main attractions since almost the beginning. First signs of any sporting activities on the 20-acre section of farmland, began during early 1949, when a group of Speedway enthusiasts laid a basic Speedway track ready for its first event in July of that year.
By 1952 the site had become more established as a sporting venue, its spacious facilities being enough to encourage the Bristol Greyhound Racing Company to make an approach to promote Greyhound Racing and build a track around the perimeter of the Speedway circuit. The new venue would begin life as an independent track, and would consist of a very large circuit, with its running surface wide enough to stage six dog racing over distances of 324 and 525 yards, with the hounds chasing an inside Sumner type hare. Swindon’s first meeting came on the 1st of November 1952, on an evening that would attract more than two thousand patrons, who were there to witness a greyhound called “Don’t Care” win the first ever event over 324 yards.
Although Speedway and Greyhound Racing became the venue’s main attractions, it also featured other motor sports during the 1950’s such as Stock Car and Midget Car racing. The 1960’s saw a massive progression in the stadium’s history, developing into the shape that we know of today, firstly with the construction of a new glass fronted grandstand erected at a cost of £10,000. But more significantly came on the racing side, when the Swindon venue accepted an offer to join the NGRC in April 1968.
The track changed ownership during 1983, its new owners being the ADT company or more known to most as the Company behind British Car Auctions, who must have sent shivers through its regulars thinking that the stadium was about to close and to be redeveloped. But relief came when it was announced that the company was only interested in its huge car parking area, knowing that they could store as many as 4,000 vehicles on the site.
During 1997 the Abbey Stadium changed ownership once more, its new owners were the Bristol Stadia Group, who purchased the stadium for 1.2 million pounds, after selling their interest in Bristol’s Eastville Stadium to developers. But the new deal had seen Swindon sign a BAGS contract, taking over the role of the Eastville venue, which had closed during 1997.
Today, Swindon operates under the guidance of The William Hill Group, who’s sponsorship in open events attracts the best greyhounds around, such as The British Produce Stakes, The Pride of the West and also The Arc, an attractive scalp once run at London’s Walthamstow track which closed in 2008. It has a crowd capacity of 2,000 and a track circumference of 463 metres, creating distances of 275, 480, 510, 685 and 730 metres, with the hounds chasing the more recognised Swaffham type hare.
Over the last few years discussions have been taking place regarding the stadium’s future, with new housing development expected to be built on the site. Yet the news is not all gloom, although the Abbey Stadium still soldiers on, a replacement brand new stadium is already under construction close by, ready for its unveiling in the near future.
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