Contents The Gallery Athletics The Straight 440
The first athletics track was laid out on sloping ground to the south of the present tennis courts. Although the upward and downward slopes on the bends did, in theory, cancel each other out, it was thought that optimum performance in the 440 yards race could only be achieved on the level. When the College hosted the County Sports in 1954 (or perhaps 1955 - see below), the visiting teams were astonished to find a quarter mile of straight track! Timing had to be achieved by triggering stop watches at the puff of smoke from the starting pistol; by the time the bang was heard, the runners were already well on their way.
Position of the track in relation to later facilities
Present day view from the starting line
Approximate position of the finishing line
It appears that there is some contention over the existence of this track. There was certainly a 'long straight track,' but was it 220 or 440 yards? When was it constructed? Does anyone have related College magazine articles or photos?
"I remember the straight 440 track, and I also remember that some trees were removed approximately halfway along its length so that it could be laid out. However, I think the date of 1954 must be wrong as I didn't start at WC until September 1954. The start was very close to site of the pavilion, just inside the drive which led up to Morley College."
"The 'approximate position of the finishing line' as defined in your photo is in fact the approximate finish of the 220 which of course was constructed first. The finish of the 440 was behind the photographer (me) in this instance, and finished between two Nissen huts one of which would have been a science lab, probably chemistry. I am sure this can be verified on a plan of the huts. The 220 was laid first and used with the oval."
"I am equally sure the 440 straight would have been laid especially for the County sports as the circular track would have been deemed unacceptable due to the heavy slope. I will try to find out when this meeting was held. It must have been 54 or 55. I won the 440 Youth (15 - 17yrs) and remember finishing and returning to side of track to clap the second chap home. Muz was none to pleased."
"My recollection of the 'Straight 440' is that it was a 440 yards track. I've attached a very rough diagram, not to "Daish" standard, but it may be of use. I think it started up by where the post and wire fence used to be, near the end of the wood, that separated the sports field from the Park. Much as your diagram on the web page. I don't think it went along in front of Morley Hall; that was reserved for the "jungle pitch", used by the "leftovers" team, which usually meant less than 11 per side. The starters had to walk the 440 yards to the start of course, not like a circular track where start and end are closer together. None of the old school plans cover the area concerned and OS maps are too small. I'm sure a few at the Reunion could help as well, some of them may have ran it."
Andy Seeley was at the 2004 Reunion and confirmed that the straight 440 DID exist - Ed.