a race is about to start at the Butts c1910

The Butts Cycle Track was Coventry’s premier cycle track having been in use from the late 1870s.

Historically, the area surrounding the track was first called the ‘Old Bull Fields’, but when this became enclosed through expansion and development, it became known as ‘The Butts’, later becoming a watch making area during the most part of the 19th century.

The site has a long tradition with sport and leisure – The Coventry & North Warwickshire Cricket Club first played there from 1851, and a running track added in the 1870s. Coventry Rugby Football Club also began here, before establishing themselves at Coundon Road in 1921.

Early records show that cycle racing began in Coventry in the early 1870s, with Tom Sabin of Allesley being recorded to have won a race at Allesley Park in 1874. The Butts was first used as a cycle track in 1879, some 10 years after the cycle trade had began in Coventry. At this period ‘Penny Farthing’ cycles were all the vogue, until the late 1880s when the safety cycle was favoured. Notable Coventry racers included F. W. Allard, Thomas Bayliss of Bayliss, Thomas & Co., Sam Brown, Teddy Oxborrow, Mauritz Schulte of Triumph, and Henry Sturmey amongst many others.

Coventry Technical College was built adjacent to the track in 1935, yet it continued to be used officially for cycling, running, football and other sports until the mid 1990s, when its future became in doubt.

The site now maintains its sporting heritage, and today forms part of the Butts Park Arena. Fittingly, is also home to Coventry Rugby Football Club, returning to the site where they first played in 1880.

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