Springfield Park, Wigan – The four unknown cyclists

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The purpose of this article is threefold.


Firstly, to try and identify the cyclist in the photographs who are all believed to have competed at Springfield Park in the early 1900’s.  So if anyone out there can assist in naming any of them I would be very grateful if you would let me know.



Secondly, it is to collect all known information about the Springfield Park cyclists in one place.  Thirdly, to bring Wigan’s forgotten sporting legends to attention of the general public.




Photo 1 – Four unknown cyclist


The four cyclists in Photo 1 are unknown but it is probable that one of the cyclists is Thomas Sherratt as the photo was donated by one of his descendants; it is likely to have been taken in the early 1900’s.  The riders on the far left and far right look similar to the rider and the person in the striped vest in YOTAC’s John Lindsay Cooper photograph http://springfieldparkmemorial.weebly.com/1896-1919-the-early-years.html thus providing another possible connection with Springfield Park.


This newspaper extract indicates that there were a number of cyclists competing at Springfield Park in the early 1900’s but the most famous of them were probably Ben Jones and Thomas Sherratt.

Wigan Observer, 13 August 1904 – Wigan
Athletic Club Sports
On Wednesday evening the members’ sports in connection with Wigan Racing and Athletic Club were held at Springfield Park.  Despite the quality of the competition and interesting events which were down for decision there was only a meager attendance.  Nevertheless some good sport was witnessed, resulting as follows:

100 yards flat race handicap – Heat winners: Jolley, Wigan; Wright, Wigan; Jackson, Newtown; Jackson, Wigan; Hesketh, Newtown. Final: 1, Hesketh; 2, Jackson; 3, Jolley.

One lap cycle handicap – Heat winners: Jolley, Sherratt, Garvin, and Jones; fastest loser. Final: 1, Jolley; 2, Jones; 3, Garvin.

440 yards flat handicap – 1st heat: Passant; 2, Lowe.  2nd heat: 1, Jackson; 2, Smith: 3rd heat: 1, Shaw; Lemmon; 4th heat: 1, Hesketh; Melling.  Final: Passant, 1; Lemmon 2; Hesketh3.

One mile cycle open handicap – Winners of heats: Jolley, Tootil, Clarke, Sherratt. Final: 1, Jolley; 2, Clarke; 3, Tootil.


The last item was one of more than ordinary interest being a pursuit race between Ben Jones and T Sherratt, resulting in a victory for Jones by about 5 yards.


‘A History of Manchester Wheelers’ Club 1883 to 1983, by Jack Fletcher, indicates that both Ben Jones and Thomas Sherratt competed for the 110 guineas ‘Muratti Gold Vase’ which was a 10 Miles amateur unpaced race.  The results for the two Wigan riders are as follows:

1904 – Thomas Sherratt, Salford Harrriers, 3rd place

1905 – Ben Jones, Wigan AC, 2nd place
1906 – T Sherratt, 2nd place
1907 – B. Jones, Wigan, 1st place

1908 – T. Sherratt, Wigan, 1st place

1909 – B. Jones, Wigan, 1st place


It is also known Ben Jones and Thomas Sherratt competed and won other prestigious cycle races.  In 1907 Jones won the 1 mile and 10 miles Empire Championships. He surpassed this in 1908 because he won two gold medals and one silver Olympic medal at White City Stadium, London, games. 

Thomas Sherratt had the medal to prove he won the won the 1909 ‘Irish Cyclist Association Central District, 3 mile scratch race. It is also believed that he sold one of the cups he won to Syd Littler, the Wigan Athletic Chairman in the 1950’s, who donated it to Wigan Wheelers who still compete for it today.

Ben Jones
This link gives more detail on Jones http://thisnorthernsoul.co.uk/wp-content/uploads2/2011/03/d869cacec10d61af6e525bf23.jpguser-blogs/86-other-sports/1895.html

Thomas Sherratt
His birth was registered in Wigan in the Jan to March quarter of 1883.

1891 Census RG12/3067, Folio 107, Page 32.
Thomas, aged 8 resided at 17 Crippins Buildings, Bryn Gates, Wigan, along with his parents Thomas and Elizabeth and his siblings, Ellen 18, Ann 16, James14, William 10, Betsy 6, Martha 4 and Robert aged 8 months.

1901 Census RG13/3572, Folio48, Page 3.
Thomas aged 18 resided at 580 Beech Tree Houses, Bryn Gates, Wigan, with his brother James Sherratt, sister-in-law Lily and their family.  At this time his occupation was a ‘Coal Drawer’.

1911 Census
The document has not been examined but a search for Thomas Sherratt, born 1883 shows there is a person of this name residing in Ashton-in-Makerfield.

Thomas Sherratt later went on to marry Elizabeth Roe and they had 5 children: Rowland 1904; Robert 1908; Thomas 1910; 1vy 1913 and Elsie 1914.  Elizabeth, Rowland and Robert are also listed on the 1911 census.

Thomas, born 1883, had an accident at Bryn Hall colliery on the 20th of March 1920 and subsequently died on the 6th of April 1920, it is presumed he died as a result of the accident.

William Clarke
Wiganworld 1920 Local Chronicle – Death of Mr. William Clarke, Ince, Licensee and former Racing Cyclist, aged 41 years. http://www.wiganworld.co.uk/stuff/chronology8.php?opt=chrono&yr=1920

This is confirmed by the following newspaper entry.

Wigan Observer, Tuesday 11 May 1920 – Ex-Local Racing Cyclists DeathThe death took place on Sunday of Mr William Clarke licensee of the Railway Hotel, Ince, an event which caused keen regret amongst a large circle of friends.  The deceased, who was 41 years of age, buried his wife three months ago, and there were no children. He was a member of the Antiquity Lodge of Freemasons, and at one time was a prominent and successful racing cyclist, carrying off many premier prizes locally and on other tracks.  The funeral takes place on tomorrow (Wednesday), the service being at St Mary’s Church, Ince at noon and the internment at In

ce Cemetery at 12.30.

So, as stated at the outset, if anyone knows the names of any of the four racing cyclists in Photo1 I would be very grateful if you would let me know.

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