New twist in tale of speedway stadium as Rugby councillors back call to investigate return of sport

A call to see if Brandon Stadium - the historic home of speedway and stock car racing in the region - could be brought back into use, has been backed by Rugby borough councillors.

After the recent rejection of the latest bid for housing on the site, Rugby borough councillors have backed a motion calling for a fresh look to see if Brandon Stadium's original use can be restored. Photo: Google Street View.
After the recent rejection of the latest bid for housing on the site, Rugby borough councillors have backed a motion calling for a fresh look to see if Brandon Stadium's original use can be restored. Photo: Google Street View.

A notice of motion was put forward at last week’s full council meeting by ward member Cllr Tony Gillias (Con, Revel and Binley Woods), an avid speedway fan who made his first visit to the track more than 50 years ago.

And campaigners keen to see it restored to its historic use were encouraged that the proposal was seconded by council leader Cllr Seb Lowe (Con, Coton and Boughton). He admitted he was not a speedway fan but added: “I am a huge fan of heritage and a huge fan of community. This suggests that we should explore what can be done and I think there is a sufficient groundswell of public opinion out there that suggests that this might be worth looking at and at least seriously consider whether it is a possibility. It will be a more meaningful debate once that information is back.”

Racing came to an end in 2016 when the stadium was purchased by Brandon Estates and a number of planning applications for housing at the abandoned site have been turned down by councillors.

The motion proposed by Cllr Gillias read: “This council recognises the importance of the sporting heritage within the borough, not only in respect to the game of rugby, but also to other long established and well supported sports associated with Brandon Stadium.

“We therefore request that, following the overwhelming public desire to reopen Brandon Stadium, this council explores options available to bring Brandon Stadium back into use and any likely public advantages to the local and wider communities, should this be achievable.”

Cllr Gillias said: “The council and its members are of course the custodians of the borough’s history and sporting heritage, particularly those sports and venues that have provided leisure and wellbeing for generations to partake, enjoy and support.

“Friendships are created in those sporting communities that last a lifetime. The wellbeing created cannot be found or created in any document or policy statement because it is deep in your hearts and minds and it is carried with us on our journey through life.”

Save Coventry Speedway and Stox Campaign Group also have a planning application awaiting determination by Rugby Borough Council to demonstrate there is a vision should Brandon Estates decide to sell the stadium.

Jeff Davies, from the group, told the Advertiser: “The application was submitted, in part, to demonstrate there was an alternative to the proposals, which would not only see the stadium reinstated for motorsports but would also enhance it with provision aimed at the local community.

“The proposals seek approval to change the use of three existing buildings by converting the bar beneath the grandstand into a gymnasium (with a climbing wall and physio rooms), the former dog kennel building into a new catering and bar outlet and one of the hangars into a speedway and stock car museum.

“These changes formed part of a masterplan which would also see the dog track converted to a cycle track and the speedway track infield converted to an equine surface for equestrian events. We hope it will be considered at committee very soon.”