From the Sydenham Town website::: ::: Re: Crystal Palace Speedway. by Rebelmc » 18 Sep 2011 18:28
This is an area of special interest for me, as a life long speedway follower and CP/Sydenham resident, to the extent that I wrote an extensive piece which I intended to post on this site, until a hard drive disaster meant I lost the lot.
Crystal Palace was actually very important in the early days of the sport, being one of the first London tracks to open on May 19 1928, with a crowd of 20000 turning up for the first meeting; the electric starting gate, which became the Worldwide standard, was invented by the CP promoter and the team featured Tom Farndon at one stage, reckoned to be one of the best riders ever to sit on a speedway bike.
At first, speedway wasn't a team sport and it relied on staging individual challenges for various amounts of prize money, with some fairly substantial sums on offer; Roger Frogley was a regular at CP, while his brother Buster was on the books at Wembley, so I believe the individual pictures date from one of these challenge matches in 1928. Fay Taylour was an extremely interesting character, who probably deserves a book all to herself.
The team shot is from CP's first year of league racing in 1929.
At the end of 1933, crowds were dropping at the CP grounds and about the only thing that was drawing decent numbers was the speedway, so the park trustees decided to try and capitalise on that and put the rent up, to something £1000 per week.
Promoter Fred Mockford didn't fancy that, so he folded his tent and moved the whole promotion to New Cross for 1934 and, apart from a handful of meetings run in 1939/40, that was the end for CP speedway.
I believe the track site was wrecked by becoming an anti aircraft gun implacement and, of course, it's now got a dirty great athletics stadium built on top of it.
There is a print of the front page of a speedway programme in the DWH, for a match featuring CP and Southampton.