HACKNEY, Rayleigh, Romford, West Ham, proclaimed the red strip across the foot of the front page. The only other element of colour in the paper was the masthead -
The other pages of this quarto-
In the early 70s, when speedway enjoyed huge support in Britain and before the Internet swamped us with its sensory overload of news and comment of often dubious value, we relied upon the papers and magazines to keep us informed. The Fleet Street titles found space for speedway, the local newspapers featured the exploits of their neighbourhood teams and, of course, we bought the sport’s own publications, the Star, Express and Mail to learn the details and pore over the pictures.
It remains a testimony to the support and interest that speedway enjoyed in those simpler and less self-
As a comparison, 4p in 1971 might have bought you a quarter of a pint of beer, two-
But who was Donald Allen? He was a journalist for the Recorder Group newspapers in London and Essex. He also took the job of Press Officer for West Ham Speedway when Dave Lanning moved into the Team Manager’s role. It may even have been his report in the Newham Recorder that referred to a make of speedway machine as ‘Japanese’ when a fastidious sub-
From his home in Playfield Avenue, Collier Row, Romford, Donald Allen produced each six-
‘To those of us who have closely followed the affairs of West Ham speedway over the years,’ he wrote, ‘the contents in most respects, but not all, had a distinctly familiar ring about them.’ He concluded his piece optimistically, ‘No doubt the Stratford Express -
As Hammers fans will be well aware, 1971 proved to be their final season. Custom House was demolished in October 1972.
Allen sold his publications at West Ham on Tuesday evenings and Romford on Thursdays, and an updated edition would be produced for the following night’s meeting at Hackney and at Rayleigh on Sunday.
In 1972, with the disappearance of the Hammers and with Romford moving from their Essex base and briefly taking up residence in Custom House under the name West Ham Bombers, the circulation of Speedway Stop Press changed slightly. By the time of its 50th edition, it was being sold at West Ham on Tuesdays, Ipswich and Wimbledon on Thursdays, Hackney on Fridays and Rayleigh on Saturdays. The 1972 examples shown in our pictures are the Late London editions sold at Waterden Road which include the previous Thursday’s results from Ipswich.
Speedway Stop Press may look a little primitive to a modern eye but it was better written than most Internet sources are today. It was up to date, had the look of immediacy about it and still smelled of printer’s ink when you bought it. I suspect there would still be a market for local publications of that kind if there still existed small groups of tracks in close proximity, as used to be the case in London and the South East.
In addition to local stories from the London and Essex tracks, match reports and league tables, Speedway Stop Press was packed with features such as Speedway Spotlight, Fixtures & Form and News Digest.
In 1972, the format changed to foolscap size, the single colour on the cover was lost and the price went up to 5p
Stop Press’s six closely-