Birmingham Perry Barr (Aldridge Road) Greyhound Track
Perry Barr had been without greyhound racing since 1984 following the surprise sale of the Walsall Road stadium by Ladbrokes but during 1990 negotiations started to re-introduce the sport.
It could not be on the site of the former stadium because that had been demolished and built on but just across the Walsall road to the east was the Alexander Sports Ground that was situated on Aldridge Road. The Sports ground had been constructed way back in 1929, bizarrely enough just one year after the original Perry Barr stadium had opened.
The stadium was no longer used for athletics because the new Alexander Stadium in Perry Park served this purpose so when Maurice Buckland a former trainer head of a consortium called the Perry Barr Greyhound Racing Club suggested the idea of greyhound racing at the venue it was given planning permission.
The new build was completed quickly and on 16th October 1990 Birmingham had a second track in action (1° 53′ 55.091″W 52° 31′ 10.817″N). A host of trainers found attachments at the track over the following years; the great Geoff DeMulder guided Fearless Mustang to the Derby final as a Perry Barr trainer during the first Derby tilt for the new track.
The circumference of the track is 435 metres and the circuit had ample width with race distances of 275, 460, 500, 660, 710 and 895 metres. An Outside Sumner hare was used on Tuesday and Thursday race nights overseen by Racing Manager Gary Woodward. There were kennels for 82 hounds on site.
The former trainer from the previous Perry Barr Frank Baldwin took over as Racing Manager in 1991 and Zap won the Cesarewitch for Alan Honeyfield in 1992. Michael Bacon and Henry Tasker both enjoyed success whilst attached to Perry Barr.
Another Perry Barr hound made the Derby final in 1995, this time it was Heres Seanie trained by Pat Ryan that gave Perry Barr a remarkable start during their fledgling years, another change of Racing Manager saw Ian Hillis take over. Another Cesarewitch victory was claimed in 1998 by Fourth Ace (Barry Wileman and other notable wins included a Juvenile and Pall Mall.
The track was ticking along nicely with Maurice Buckland as General Manager, yet another Racing Manager Tim Hale took over. They even hosted their first big event from 1997-2002, following the closure of Hackney the Guineas was transferred to the Midlands venue before moving on to Nottingham.
Looking to put a halt on their shrinking empire the GRA under their parent company Wembley plc had plans to build a track in Liverpool but before this they took over the Perry Barr stadium. In May of that year a £4.2 million takeover was agreed with Perry Barr Greyhound Racing Club. Stephen Rea and Gary Woodward were brought in as the General and Racing Manager’s. After initial investment into the stadium the GRA brought the former classic race the Scurry Cup to the track following the closure of Catford. The prize money for the event took a serious hit during the transfer of the competition.
The stadium was fortunate to host two trainers championships in 2005 and 2012 and in between the Scurry was moved to sister track Belle Vue and the rekindled Birmingham Cup was discontinued in 2009 leaving Perry Barr with no major event to boast about.
The track today uses an outside Swaffham hare and is a regular on the BAGS service overseen by Racing Manager Martin Seal. GRA under new parent company Risk Capital ran into financial difficulties and unpaid loans resulted in NAMA (Irelands National Asset Management Agency) taking control of the GRA. In 2013 a long term lease was secured with NAMA by a management team led by GRA Managing Director Clive Feltham to run the track.
Thoughts returned to racing in 2014, July brought a major trophy after Mileheight Alba lifted the William Hill Classic; trainer Pat Rosney represented Perry Barr during this period of 2014.