The cycling track at Reading Palmer Park is one of the oldest tracks in the country; the original one, built at the turn of the century, was made of loose red shale – you used to slide sideways on the bankings!
The Reading Track League was started when the track was resurfaced in 1955. One of the instigators was Ron Pugsley who remained an official until his death in 1998. The Ron Pugsley Memorial Trophy is presented to the winner of the National Derny Paced Championships. This trophy to his memory was presented jointly by the Polytechnic CC and Reading CC.
In 1962 the “Reading Chronicle” hatched the idea of mixing different sports into one meeting and on a blazing hot June night that year Palmer Park’s biggest ever crowd watched athletics, cycling and professional five a side football.
In 1966 “Reading Chronicle” again sponsored a Gala Night with Reading Athletics Club and Reading Track League and again it was a success with some star athletes and cyclists and a large crowd.
A regular rider in the late 50’s and early 60’s was a John Woodburn who then held the 800yds Standing Start record and 4000 metres Pursuit record.
The velodrome was closed for the 2002 season following subsidence in places from the old chalk pits. Reading Borough Council had these filled and the track surface refurbished for the start of the 2003 season.
Upgrading to new safety standards meant the closure of the facility during the early part of the 2015 season, whilst 2016 saw another closure as the flood lighting was condemned. Reading Borough Council’s swift action in both cases ensured the closure was only temporary.
Following the installation of new fencing, financed by British Cycling, we are looking forward to a successful racing season in 2021.