1928 Open meetings - 1st meeting 20th August, 1928
1929 English Dirt-track League and Open.
Robert Sinclair Milne, born in St Helens, was a turf accountant in Silverwell Street, Bolton, when he and his associates decided to convert the old colliery site at Raikes into a centre for the new sport of greyhound racing. Perhaps the best known story about the eccentric Sinclair Milne concerned the occasion when he challenged bookmaker John Hamer to a sprint for a prize of 100 guineas.
The two men tossed a coin to decide the athletics track lanes for the following morning's race. This enabled Sinclair Milne to arrange for his opponent's lane to be dug up and watered a little before the race, which the future greyhound boss won with great glee.
Celebrities to visit Raikes Park in the early years included Gracie Fields, the jockey Steve Donoghue and somebody called "Daredevil Peggy," who set fire to herself and dived 80ft into a tank of water.
Seven dirt-track meetings were held at Raikes Park in 1928, on a red shale track that had been constructed inside the greyhound course (the 1st greyhound meeting was staged on 10th December 1927, and was to last there for a further 69 years). The promoters using the title of The Lancashire Dirt-Track Racing Association Ltd. were M. F. Edwards and A. Horrocks who were motor dealers in Bolton. A crowd of over 6,000 were in attendance for the Open meeting on 20 August 1928, when Norman Dawson won the Senior Cup.
W. D. Meagher, Chairman of the Northern Dirt-track Owners Association, and a director at the Preston and Leeds tracks, took over complete control of the course in 1929. A crowd of over 4,000 attended the first meeting of the 1929 season on March 23rd. A total of only 4 meetings were staged in 1929 (on 23rd & 29th March and 6th & 20th April). The final meeting of the four was Bolton's one and only English Dirt-track League match, versus Preston, which they won 36-24. Bolton subsequently resigned from the League with their fixtures being taken over by Hanley.
It was reported that Jack Gordon was anxious to obtain a licence to run speedway at the venue in 1951, but nothing came to fruition. Raikes Park later passed into the hands of Sinclair Milne's twin nephews, Tom and Alec Atherton, who ran it in a colourful manner until a takeover in 1979 by brothers Philip and Sydney Ordman from Manchester, and was run mainly as a greyhound and stock car racing venue. In March 1990 the track was saved from redevelopment when a government inspector agreed with the stadium regulars and bookmakers who fought proposals to turn the site into a retail park. The inspector, Mr Robert Watson said "In my judgement it's use makes a marked contribution to the recreational life of the town and the wider area."
Later, younger members of the Ordman family took over the running, and invested more than £750,000 in the track including a comfortable restaurant and new kennels associated with the decision to embrace the NGRC. All of this effort came to nothing when, faced with losing the permission to run stock cars at the end of 1996, the track management announced the closure on 30th October 1996. With the track later demolished the site was redeveloped for car showrooms for BMW & Porsche.