Bradford Road, Batley Carr
Batley (or Batley Carr) first had a rink in 1875. It was an all wooden structure but was closed four years later after a disaster. Four people were killed and 45 seriously injured when a wooden balcony collapsed under the weight of hundreds of people who had crowded inside to listen to a heated eve of election political debate.
A second rink soon opened which gave it's name to Rink Street, but when this closed a third rink was erected just across the road in 1909 on the Bradford Road (discussed here). At that time it was acclaimed to be the best in the world, but didn't they all?!
In 1948 the rink became the first northern rink to host a major speed event. The Northern Counties, Men's One Mile British Championship and the Men's Relay Championship were held here that year. In the One Mile, unusually only three clubs were represented - North London, Alexandra Palace and Leicester. Both Broadway Cricklewood and Birmingham had been banned by the NSA for their association with the "alternative" governing body BFARS (British Federation of Amateur Roller Skating). Interestingly no northern clubs participated.
In 1949 that changed. In fact, 25 year old Geoff Wright from the Doncaster club won the Northern Counties and on 30th April he would place 4th in the Men's Five Mile Championship which was won by a young Denis Hill (Broadway Cricklewood).
Just a month later and the Batley rink was closed for good. On Tuesday 24th May 1949 the rink narrowly escaped disaster when the neighbouring Stanley Mill (a mill used in the rag trade) caught fire and the roof collapsed, but the relief only lasted for a few days. On Saturday 28th May, just four days later, the rink itself was gutted by fire and completely destroyed.
Batley rink had many admirers and drew thousands from neighbouring areas. A young Geoff Wright cut his speed skating teeth here and the NSA was just starting to expand past the southern and midland boundaries by using the rink for it's blue ribband speed event. There were great plans for the popular rink and who knows, it may well have featured in many more elite speed events had it not been for that fateful day in May 1949. But it was not to be as Batley suffered a premature end to it's life as a roller rink and resigned itself to the annals of roller speed skating history.