Whippet-racing tale stirred some memories

Cookson Country
Cookson Country

WELL it certainly seems to have had a lot of the ad-hoc about it. I’m talking about the whippet racing which used to take place on the field above Marsden Bay, which is now Lizard Lane caravan site.

Reader John Lightfoot was recalling it the other day, and I’ve also heard from one or two others. Peter Webber in Jarrow remembers racing taking place on Sundays in about 1959-1960: “At the top of the field near the entrance to the tunnel under Lizard Lane were five or six traps to hold the whippets.

“Behind the traps was a bike frame mounted upside down with a cable attached to it. This cable ran the length of the field down to the bottom, next to the Rattler railway line, then round a pulley wheel and back to the traps.

“On the end of the rope was a rabbit wrapped in rags. When the traps were opened, two men would furiously wind the rope by turning the pedals by hand.The whippet owners would be shouting for their dogs and would grab their animals before they savaged each other over the rabbit.

“I always stood at the top of field as I didn’t fancy getting bitten at the finish line, like a few of my mates did!”