Custom House Years

Home of the 'Appy Ammers'

West Ham Stadium

 

Infomation from ## Thanks to Newham Heritage Services!

The Main Gate

Photo thanks to Ian Dowling ##

The Stadium

Photo thanks to Reg Fearman

 

Photo Thanks to Graham Wyatt

 

 

Custom House from Above

Where it was

How it all started

How they got there

The Local Community

The War Years

Greyhound Racing

Stock Car Racing

Baseball

Football


 

Custom House from above

 

Custom House, a Speedway meeting at West Ham Stadium, from the west, 1947 - Britain from Above West Ham Football Stadium, Custom House, 1928 - Britain from Above Custom House, a Speedway meeting at West Ham Stadium, 1947 - Britain from Above Custom House, a Speedway meeting at West Ham Stadium, 1947 - Britain from Above Custom House, a Speedway meeting at West Ham Stadium, 1947 - Britain from Above Custom House, a Speedway meeting at West Ham Stadium, 1947 - Britain from Above Custom House, a Speedway meeting at West Ham Stadium, 1947 - Britain from Above

Where it was

 

Map of the Staduim 1930's

 

The West Ham Stadium was situated off of Prince Regent Lane, Custom House , London, E16

The possition of stadium, which is now demolished, is outlined on the modern map below!

The new roads constructed on the site of the old West Ham Stadium, are all named after charecters that where closely associated with the history of the Custom House Circuit 

 

Roads named after "Ammers"

Atkinson Road After Arthur Atkinson Rider/Manager

Croombs Road After Tommy Croombs Rider

Hoskins Close After Jonnie Hoskins Promoter/Manager

Lawson Close After Aub Lawson Rider

Wilkinson Road  After Bluey Wilkinson Rider/World Champion

Young Road After Jack Young Rider/World Champion


How it all started

 

Opening Meeting 28th July 1928


Robert Rogers uncovers the following information from Newham Heritage Library Services at Statford

  Dirt track Thrills

Activities at the new West Ham Stadium at Custom House commenced on Saturday (28th July 1928) by holding a Dirt-track Motor Cycle meeting, organised by the Dirt-track Speedways Ltd.

A large and enthusiastic crowd were treated to an excellent display of racing by some of the leading British, Australian and American Speedway riders.

Part of the stadium was still under construction and when completed, it will be undoubtedly be one of the finest in the Country. It is estimated that there will be accommodation for over 100,000 spectators and nearly half this number can be housed in the main double-deck stand.

There is a second stand on the opposite side of the ground, which can accommodate 20,000 people.

In the centre of the arena is a full size football ground which the new professional team, Thames Association will open in the southern league against Brighton on Thursday evening, August 30th.

Surrounding this is the Dirt Speedway track of 440yards, while beyond this runs a turf Greyhound racing track of 562 yards.

Two hundred dogs will be kennelled at the stadium in four blocks, each holding 50 dogs. Each block will have a paddock area of 850 square yards with Stores, Kitchen and Bedroom for Attendant with gas, water & electricity. In the vicinity of the stadium there will be a car park of five acres capable of accommodating 2400 cars.

There are 70x 750-watt lamps around the Greyhound Course, and a special type of Monorail train has been erected weighing only 500lb. This lightness will enable the Driver to retard or accelerate so easily that he will be able to keep the Hare with-in one yard of the Dogs.

Prior to the commencement of Saturdays speedway meeting, Alderman Jones M.P declared the stadium open, and there was present a number of members of West Ham Council, with Sir Louis Dane Chairman of the directors and Lady Dane.

Among the Aldermen and Councillors present were Alderman Thorn M.P, Alderman Godbold, and Councillors Torrington, Bush, Sturgess, Parker, Vincent, Scoulding, Mrs Cook and Mrs Parsons.

Alderman Jones, whose speech was broadcast around the Stadium through the Loud Speaker System, said that as Member of the Division in which that the Stadium and Sports ground had been erected, he hoped that it would add to the enjoyment and happiness of the people of the Neighbourhood.

They were not killjoys or spoilt sports in that area. There had been plenty of ups and downs and the trials and troubles of industrial difficulties, but they had lived through them all, and they could say without fear of contradiction that West Ham was one of the finest sporting Centres in Great Britain.

He was pleased to be called on to perform the opening ceremony at the Stadium, which was not to be confined to one Sport, but which would cater for various forms of amusement, and he hoped that when the final result was declared the Stadium would be recognised as one of the finest Sporting grounds in the country, and that good and clean sportsmen would be around them.

He had much pleasure in declaring the grounds open for the enjoyment of the public.

Dirt Track Speedway 

Most of the riders in the events which were decided had no opportunity for a practice spin, and for the first lap or so had to ride carefully, but once they had tried out the track, some thrilling racing was witnessed.

All the Star riders present included Paddy Dean (Australia), Lloyd `Sprouts` Elder (U.S.A), Irvine Jones (Australia), Billy Galloway (Australia), Ivor Creek (England), Art Pechar (U.S.A), Geoffrey `Buzz` Hibbard (Australia) and Gus Khun (England) took part in the West Ham Invitation Handicap, which followed the parade of riders.

There were some close finishes in the Heats and Semi-final before Paddy Dean beat Buzz Hibbard in the Final, completing the mile and a half in 2.30 min, equalising 36 Miles Per Hour. The West Ham Golden Gauntlet mile event however produced the most exciting racing as all riders started from Scratch.

Unfortunately Pechar and Kuhn had to retire from this after winning their heats owing to Machine Trouble, and the event was finally won by Elder in 1.31 min at 39.56 MPH, which was the fastest time of the day.

In a special match race, Ivor Creek won from Billy Galloway, his time being 1.38 min at 36.44 MPH over a mile

The results were;
West Ham Golden Gauntlet (1 Mile) Final,
1st Elder, 2nd Dean, 3rd Creek, time 1.31.

West Ham Invitation Handicap (1.5 Miles)
1st Dean, 2nd Hibbard, 3rd Creek, time 2.30.

One Mile Match Race Ivor Creek beat Billy Galloway by four lengths, time 1.38min.

A Complete Stadium

"It is a stadium in the fullest sense of the word, and we hope will provide a find opportunity for the people of this densely populated area to enjoy healthy sports and low charges”

Sir Louis Dane, Chairman of the Directors of the West Ham Greyhound Racing, Co, Ltd, made these observations in the course of a speech at the Luncheon given to the representatives of the Press at the Nottingham Arms on Wednesday.

"Primarily”, he said, "we are a Greyhound Racing Company and the Dogs are the most important and our first interest, but we do not propose to limit ourselves to that”.

On the site of the stadium there had been for many years a football ground and Whippet Racing Course. The company was particularly keen to keep the football going and the whippet racers were anxious to continue their sport.

They had also been meet by applications for Bowling Greens and Tennis Courts.

Fortunately there were ample opportunities for providing all of these pastimes and possibly Hockey, also if that caught on in the district.

There was also Dirt-track (Racing) and he thought that as the interest grew, it would prove very successful.

Altogether they had a comprehensive programme, and a wonderful stadium, and he hoped they would be able to live up to it.

At a future date they might be able to arrange for Boxing Contest, as that was a sport very much in favour in West Ham.

He considered that Alderman Jones who had opened the stadium was a `good sport`.

The Building is not yet quite completed, but despite difficulties, they were barely three months behind schedule.

The local Authority had treated them very well, and they seemed to be welcomed into the neighbourhood.

Mr Cundy, one of the Directors, expressed the view that the stadium would do a lot of good for a greatly neglected part of London.

Afterwards the Pressmen were given a private view of the stadium.

It was a hive of industry; a large number of workmen doing their best to prepare the stadium for Saturday opening meeting. There is still a good deal to be done, but completion is in site. Every thing is in readiness for the actual racing.

The dogs all appear to be in an excellent form and are eager for the fray. Barring hold-ups, the public should witness some fine sport during the holiday weekend.

Sir Louis Dane in conversation with our representative expressed great pleasure at the smartness of the Stadium, which was being erected. He considered that it was one of the finest in the Country, and was a credit to all concerned.

There will be a `closed` season in January and February.

Report from the Stratford Express on the 1st August 1928.

 

Thanks to Robert Rogers, Jenni Munroe-Collins of Newham Heritage Library Services at Statford & the speedway plus Website


 

 

How they got there!

Public Transport

Route 699 (Trolley-Bus) ##

The main form of transport to and from the stadium prior to the 1960's was the 699 trolley-bus, a pair of early ones are seen here on the left.

 

 

 

 This route served the stadium well, until the the route was withdrawn, in the early 60's. Trolleybus 622 seen here taken by W.J.Haynes in around 1960 at the Victoria and Albert Docks terminus of route 699. This route ran along Greengate Street was in fact the last to operate into the West Ham Depot.

 

 

Below is a list of Public Transport Facilities Given  in a Stock Car Programme of 1955

West end of London. 15 or 13 bus to Greengate, thence a 699 trolley-bus.

Upminster, Dagenham, Barking. Underground to Plaistow, thence a 699 trolley-bus.

Chigford, Walthamstow, Leyton. 699 trolley-bus.

Romford. 175 bus direct.

Finsbury Park, Becontree Heath. 106 bus direct.

Wansted, Camberwell, Southwark. 40 bus to Greengate, thence a 699 trolley-bus.

Southend, Greys, Tilbury. Train to Barking, thence Underground to Plaistow, thence a 699 trolley-bus.

Ilford. 25 bus to Statford Broadway, thence a 699 trolley-bus.

Epping, Ongar, Woodford. 25 bus to Stratford Broadway, thence a 699 trolley-bus.

South of the Thames. 108 bus through Blacwall Tunnel, thenc 175 or 106 bus to the stadium.

Central London. Underground to Plaistow, thence a 699 trolley-bus.

By Road


The Local Community

 

West Ham Stadium was situated in the heart of London’s Docklands district, in an area in the south of the former County Boroughs of West Ham & East Ham. The Royal Group of Docks was one of Britain’s major industrial areas and was the largest impounded dock water in the world. From the beginning of the 19th century a series of enclosed docks were built in London to accommodate the increasing numbers of ships and handle their cargoes in secure conditions. The Victoria Dock (closest to the stadium) was constructed in 1855 to accommodate new steam vessels.

With the arrival of the Docks, new industries also moved in along the riverside belt and several new towns sprung up to serve them. Silvertown, the Silver's rubber works, North Woolwich, Henley's electric telegraph works & Beckton, Gas Light & Coke Company's gas works. Hundreds of terraced houses were built to accommodate the growing population of the area who came from all parts of the country and abroad to find work. Lithuanians fled to the area away from persecution at home, the docks attracted Irish dockworkers, German chemists and sugar bakers with Scottish sugar workers from Greenock all worked at Lyle's.

Ships brought seamen, passengers & Cargoes from around the world and the smooth running of the docks relied on the skills of thousands of people ranging from dockers, clerks and women ship scrubbers to tobacco samplers and lightermen. The local economy was heavily dependant on the docks including of course West Ham Stadium.

Colmam Road 10th Feb 1937 ##

 

The Perimiter fence of the West Ham Stadium is seen on the left. Houses on the street were constructed in 1929-30 to accomodate people whose houses where demolished by the construction of the Silvertown Way!

 

 

 

                                                                                                     The Old Railway Tavern ##

Each dockland district had it's own complex and distinctive character especially during the period between the wars and at the birth of the Stadium. The Victoria Dock Road was one of the most cosmopolitan places in London. There were public houses every few yards. The old Railway Tavern 272 Victoria Dock Road (seen here) was at the corner of Freemasons Road. The local pubs were filled with dockworkers, factory workers and seamen and opened at 6 o'clock in the morning. They were not only a place of refreshment but also a source of information for the whole area.

 

 

 

 

Coloured Mens Institute ##

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                              Baxter Road ##

A Proccession from the Chuch of Accension at the festaval of the Ascension Passing Baxter Road!

 

 

 

###Images from The Archive Potographs Series Compiled by Howard Bloch.

 


The War Years

Bombers over Custom House

The Battle of Britain

A pair of Dornier 217s flying over Custom House in the autumn of 1940. This arial photo was taken by an attacking bomber and is held by the R.A.F., the stadium is near the centre of the picture!

 

29th March 1940 ##

The Mayor of West ham, Alderman Thomas Wooder opening the first speedway meeting after the outbreak of the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      West Ham 1940 Picture thanks to Graham Wyatt

  

Programme covers Meeting 2&4

Ron Butcher recalls:-

As a young school boy during the last war I was one of the few that was not evacuated from the East End. With my family we lived on a new estate adjacent to the Custom House track having been moved from the slum part of Canning Town one week before the out break of the war. Although the dog racing continued a little longer the speedway ceased. The Blitz came and went, one bomb on Saturday 7th September hit the pit bend terracing but apart from that an unexploded parachute mine landed two gardens away, my family survived unscathed.

Moving on to May 1944 a British mechanised unit entered the stadium main gate, most tanks moved in to the centre green and were camouflaged, from my Gran's front windows we looked down on the tents of the men who would employ us kids by keeping guards busy answering silly questions along Colman Road while others would take their letters to post.

Having got accustomed to the system and using runners to delay the guards who had rifles with fixed bayonets we were not prepared when one warm evening the men decided to post their own letters or rather more than that. First we were asked to open our front and back doors. and let them know when the guards were farthest away, by this time our gang of street tykes were accomplished guerrillas working behind the lines at least that it is what we thought.

As the results of our actions, at least thirty odd soldiers who should be confined to their camp were on the streets of Custom House but as, at this time all troops were incarcerated because D/Day was a few days off they stood out like a sore thumb and so quickly arrested. As for us lads and [girls] we kept a low profile for fear of being court marshalled.

A few days after D/Day at five a/m I stood at our front window waving off the tanks as they left from the east car park making their way to the Royal Docks, it was such a great site that it brought emotional tears to my eyes.

Less than ten years on I would fufill an ambition made as a seven year old in 1938 to ride a dirt bike around that illustrious track.

 

Baxter Road ##

A street party organised by residents to celebrate Victory In 1945

 

 

 

 



Greyhound Racing


The Dogs at Custom House



The West Ham Greyhound track was the largest in Britain at 562 yards (513 metres) long with 123 yard straights. It was so big that, standard races over 550 yards meant that the dogs didn't even have to run a complete lap! It was considered one of the fastest tracks in the country and at its peak held eight world records. The track was opened on the 4th of August 1928 in front of a crowd of 56000 people.

 

The track was unique because it had a turf track, laid on wood raised twelve inches above ground level. This added to the spectacle and virtually guaranteed racing whatever the weather. The huge track was lit by 70 x 750 watt lamps and had a special kind of Monorail train weighing only 500lbs which was used to carry the hare.

 

At its peak, West Ham paid host to as many as 30,000 punters per meeting who loved the galloping circuit which ensured the racing was almost trouble free and made it easier to predict results. This was, however, not always of benefit to local runners as it denied them any edge in open races.

The highlight to any West Ham greyhound season was the Classic, Cesarewitch which was originally run over 600 yards and won by some of the greats in its early years.

The legendary Mick the Miller (seen with his offspring), who won the race in 1930 and set a world record time in the heats. He had earlier made his 600 yard debut at the track. In 1931/2, Future Cutlet became the race's only dual winner. Later, in the fifties, both Pigalle Wonder (dead heat) and Mile Bush Pride were also successful. Another notable trophy competed for at West Ham was the Cambridgeshire.


At any one time, over 200dogs were kenneled at the stadium in four blocks and

As to its trainers, Stanley Biss, probably the greatest handler of bitches in the game first started out at West Ham in the 1930s, while Classic winning handler Tommy Johnston was also based there in the sixties.



 

Bob Rowe

Racing Manager, Leicester, Hall Green, White City, Wimbledon, Belle Vue & GRA senior racing manager.

"I got fixed up with the assistant's job at West Ham. What a track ! I feel sorry for those true greyhound fans of to-day that didn't witness such a marvellous venue. In my mind - and I have seen many of the 117 tracks licensed by the NGRC in the past fifty years - it was the best race-track of the lot. So vast in it's dimensions - the minimum distance of 550 yards started well to the right of the winning line - it was a grader's dream. And of course sand tracks hadn't surfaced by this time. Racing on grass was more spectacular and many of the tracks - West Ham and White City included - spared no expense always acquiring the very best peat-based turf from the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. I was at West Ham for six and a half years and enjoyed every minute. I often saw the Hammers at home and of course England's World Cup success was during this time..............courtesy of West Ham ! GRA bought the track around this time, together with Clapton but the Board's programme of "rationalisation" had just been introduced and the writing was on the wall." 





A short film about retired Greyhounds which may be of interest






Stock Car Racing


Stock Car Racing at Custom House




 Racing at Custom House in 1956

Programe covers

Baseball


Baseball at Custom House
 
 
 

Baseball at West Ham    Thanks to Project COBB 

 

Some West Ham Players

Roland Gladu

 Captain of the side

The "Babe Ruth of Canada"  

In one game in the states he hit three home runs. Played for Montreal in the International League, one of the principal teams of Nort America.

 

 

 

 


Pam Yvon

Pam Yvon was born in Quebec, December 25th, 1909. Hi folks christened him Pamphile, wich is probably the frence equivalent of Horace. He showed early intelligance in having it speedily shortend to Peter and Pam and during his early years was known as Peter Pan. When asked what he would really liked to be called, he replied,"thats all right, you can call anything you like, I wont object."

When ten years old his parents put him in boarding school. he attended the " brothers of Sacred Heart," a Catholic institution at Victoriaville, Quebec, from which he graduated at 16years of age, completing the course in two years under the usual term. From there he went to the Laval University for three years. Then into the Canadian Civil Service

Pam has a familyrelationship with the famous Quins, but unlike them, he comes of a small family, having only one sister and no brothers. He is also single.

He played the usual amount of baseball necessary for any growing lad, but at the age of about eighteen began to figure somewhat as a professional in the Quebec League. Later played in Massachusetts for and against Babe Ruth. In 1935 he returned nearer home and played for Sorel, Que. Sorel won 55 out of 67 games that summer. They won their league Championship and also beat in challenge games the touring teams from other countries, notably the Hawaiians from the south seas and Havana Reds and Cuban giants from the West Indies. Most Notable of all, however, was their defeat of the house of David team from the U.S.A. The House of David is famous for their baseball. They are a relegious body, and all members are forbidden to shave or cut their hair.

Besides being a baseball player, Pam was an Ice Hockey referee. Appreciating the dificulty of handling a game, he himself never questioned an umpires, right or wrong.


Bill Irvine

Born in Scotland and created one of Canada's best profesional girls baseball teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bert Rawlings

An English lad who was one of the prime movers of Baseball in London. He was also a champion Cyclist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Jerry Strong

Won the Canadian "Most Valuable Baseball Player Trophy in 1935"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Football

Football at Custom House
 

Thames AFC Kit


Thames Association Football Club was formed in 1928 play on a Saturday's by the buisnessmen who built the stadium to bring in extra income at the weekends.

 

The club started off in the Southern League Eastern Division. They finished 14th in their initial season (1928-1929) and in the following season(1929-30) moved up the table to finish 3rd. Due to there succseful season the team was elected to the Football League, Third Division for the (1930-1931) season taking the place of Merthyr Town. They did however, continue to field a team (a reserve side) In the Southern League for the (1930- 1931) season only.

 

 


Famous Players

Jimmy Dimmock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Len Davies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mosses Russell

 


Henry White

 

 

 


Eddie Perry