January - April 1948  The early days
The Speedway Control Board grants licences to Hastings, Yarmouth and Poole to run Speedway Teams and Speedway meetings. The establishing of a speedway team in Hastings was brought about through the the "adverse effects" of the basic petrol ban on Arlington stadium near Hailsham which was the home of the Eastbourne Eagles. Eastbourne Eagles were proposing to make the Pilot Field in Elphinstone Road Hastings, their headquarters. The Pilot Field was a long established sports stadium with football as its main sport. It was carved out of a hill to the North but built up on the South and East side in order to form a very level playing area. A large stand had been built in 1928 on the South side of the stadium and it is in front of this stand that the starting gate was established. The entrance was at the South West corner. The hill and banking formed from carving out the playing surface made excellent natural terrace areas on the West and North of the stadium with a wooded area to the East and rising from the entrance on the West side of the stadium. The Pits were located in the North East corner of the stadium with a track to the North giving access from Elphinstone Road. The track was formed of cinders and the barriers were constructed of thick steel panels.
Agreement was reached and completed between the Hastings Town Clerk, Mr.N.P.Lester and Hastings Speedway Ltd. for the letting of the Pilot Field for the 1948 summer season for a term of 7 years to enable them to establish a speedway team. Terms of the let were agreed between Hastings Speedway Ltd., Hastings Corporation and Hastings Football Club. The team would be formed of the 1947 Eastbourne Eagles team who had won the National Speedway League Division 3 title during that year. The name was not settled but three names had been proposed;- The Hastings Warriors, The Hastings Lions and The Hastings Pirates. In the end none of these proposals were taken up and the team became known as The Hastings Saxons. The team would compete in Division 3 of the National Speedway League under the management of ex-Wimbledon rider Charles Dugard and well-known track specialist Mr."Spud" Murphy. March-April\tab The speedway track was built by Rutherford's of Battle, East Sussex. (The author's father being one of those who worked for the company and was employed shovelling cinders)


Hastings Speedway opened by the mayor of Hastings Alderman F.W.Chambers. The conditions were perfect and around 5,000 people turned up to watch Hastings Saxons beat Stoke by 44 points to 39. Among those watching this first meeting was Cllr. George Steele, a director of Hastings Speedway Ltd., who had done so much towards the introduction of the sport to Hastings. The Speedway Control Board had stated that in their opinion, it was one of the finest tracks in the country. Despite this, the directors of Hastings Speedway stated that they were by no means satisfied with facilities and that they were already looking at the acquisition of floodlights and proper terracing on the grass banks.

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Summary of the first meeting.

Main Meeting Result : Hastings 44 (Jock Grierson, Wally Green both Maximum 12 - Ken Tidbury 9) Stoke 33 (Dave Anderson 9, Gill Blake 7)

Fastest heat : Wally Green (79.6 secs.)

Other Results following main meeting :

"Future Stars" scratch race :

Heat 1 - 1.Dug Smith 2.Pete Mold 3.Matt Leonard (89.4 secs)

Heat 2 - 1.Ken Smith 2. Harry Collins 3.Ken Middleditch (88.2 secs)

St.Leonards Scurry : 1. Wally Green 2.Gill Blake 3.Jock Grierson (82.2 secs)

The officials of Hastings Speedway on the opening night were;- Promoter : Mr C.Dugard - Manager and Clerk to the course : Mr.G.Sellens - A.C.U Steward : Mr.A.G.Pickering - A.C.U. Judge-Timekeeper : Mr.A.A.Jempson - Track Superintendent : Mr.S.Murphy - Chief Pit Marshal : Mr.W.Thorne - Announcer : Mr.C.Long - Machine Examiner : Mr.E.Barnard - Medical Officer : Dr.F.W.Bedford Turner

This article appeared in the Hastings Observer follwoing the first meeting. To increase the size of the article so it can be read in full, double click on it.  




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