The organizers had no idea how many spectators they could expect and it was intended to be contained within the track, but the large number of spectators spread everywhere. Admission was 6p (2½p) and with lunch at the King’s Oak for 3s (15p) or tea available at one of the local caterers, crowds flocked to the site, even climbing trees to get a better view. At its peak it drew 30,000 people.

This Is Local London: You can still see the bench.The bench can still be seen.

Writing in 1988, Syd Edmonds recalled his days as a champion Speedway driver, winning numerous trophies. While captaining the High Beech team, he set and held the 45 mph record. He received up to £5 for a track appearance and double that for international matches. His high-speed cornering—sliding the rear wheel to one side and stabilizing the other side of the machine with one leg—often led to accidents, but he warned spectators: “If competitors fall, they should be left on the ground. hands of the marshals Under no circumstances should the public invade the track”. Syd was lucky and got away relatively unscathed, but he knew about 25 riders he’d raced against who died in track accidents. In those days, horsemen wore only ripped jackets and flannel pants with knee pads, none of the protective clothing worn by later horsemen.

This is local London: Syd Edmonds in 1928.Sid Edmonds in 1928.

The sport soon became a national favorite and racing continued at High Beech until 1941, starting again after the war. By this time, the most sophisticated facilities were available in purpose-built locations, and High Beech declined. In February 1968, the Veteran Dirt Track Riders’ Association held one last special celebration with a parade of veteran stars and displays of trophies and other memorabilia.

This Is Local London - The race track shown on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch map, 1938 The race track shown on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch map, 1938

Then in 1970 the City of London Corporation, which actually owns the land, cleared the track and the Field Studies Center was built on the site as their contribution to the European Year of Conservation. It was planned as a self-contained unit for the study of flora and fauna to help school children and local people understand the importance of Epping Forest. It is managed by the Field Studies Council and originally served as a public information point on weekends. Then on 26 July 1993 the Epping Forestry Information Center was opened across the grounds to serve the public and allow the Field Studies Council to concentrate on their instruction. However, the old embankment that ran around the track’s perimeter can still be seen just inside the area’s fencing.

This Is Local London: The plaque on High Beach unveiled in June 1987 by members of the Speedway Veteran Cycling Association. The plaque at High Beach unveiled in June 1987 by members of the Speedway Veteran Cyclists Association.

Today there are 15 active stadiums in England, with events organized by British Speedway. In June 1987, members of the Speedway Veteran Riders Association, including Jack Barnet and Syd Edmonds, who rode in the early races, unveiled a plaque at the Information Centre.

  • Georgina Green has been involved with local history in Redbridge, Waltham Forest and the Epping Forest area for 40 years and is the author of several local history books. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2021.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *