A social club, market and school in the north of Liverpool give no indication of what was there beforehand. All three were the site of greyhound tracks, a sport that was once extremely popular in the city but hasn’t taken place here for over forty years.
Back in the 1930s there were three tracks within the Liverpool city boundary, all situated within little more than a mile of each other. The first of these, Breck Park, opened in April 1927 in Townsend Lane, nine months after Britain’s first track at Belle Vue in Manchester. 8,000 attended the first meeting, with most bets being placed by way of lucky numbers although there were a few rumours going round about form.
The Daily Post of 25th April explained the sport in minute detail, describing how you attach a hare’s skin to ‘an electric contrivance that sends it scurrying round the course as if it were the real thing running for dear life. The dogs chase that thing round until the deceitful unfeeling animal has made an electric dive into an animal hole.’ This track suffered bomb damage in the 2nd World War and the site was cleared in 1948, the land now being occupied by the Edinburgh Park Dockers Club and Waterloo Dock FC.
In August 1927 the Stanley Track in Prescot Road, Fairfield, opened and remained in use until 1961. It was also used for speedway and was home of Liverpool Stanley rugby league club between 1934 and 1950, prior to them moving to Knotty Ash. The site of this track is now occupied by the fruit and vegetable market.
The last of the three tracks opened in 1932 on Lower Breck Road and was named White City. It was the most modern of the three in that it was completely undercover. This lasted ten years longer than the Stanley track, but went out with barely a whimper with the last races taking place on 6th October 1973 being attended by just 700 people. Manager Edward Baines explained to the local press that there would be no ceremony and they just wanted to go as quietly as possible. Eighty company greyhounds were moved to other tracks and the equipment was sold. St Margaret’s School now stands on the site.
At the start of the Millenium plans were drawn up by the Greyhound Racing Association to build a 2,000 seater track in Fazakerley to host racing three nights a week. However despite the planning department recommending approval the planning committee took on board the concerns of protesters including actress Annette Crosbie, who expressed concerns over noise pollution, traffic and animal welfare. The application was rejected and race goers have to continue travelling to Manchester instead.