In August 1905, the Kensal Rise Athletic Ground came into the possession of Mr W. Ecclestone (aka ‘Jolly Jumbo)’

The following article appeared in the Kilburn Times on 19th August 1905:

‘The Kensal Rise Athletic Ground, until last year the home of the Queen’s Park Rangers, has now changed hands again, and since it has come into the possession of that well-known promoter of sports meetings, Mr W. Ecclestone, of the “Coach and Horses,” Stonebridge, a new era of prosperity appears to have opened for the ground.

Mr Ecclestone, or as he is better known, Jolly Jumbo, has had his eye on this athletic ground since it was vacated by the Rangers, for situated as it is in such a thickly populated district, with easy travelling facilities from all parts, it is quite unique.

The ground is almost historical, and if the history of Kensal Rise ever came to be written, it would figure largely in it.

At one time, as the National Athletic Ground, it was much larger even than at the present time and extended to the Willesden Green Brickfields, but a good slice of it fell into the hands of the speculative builder, and there has been some talk of the acquisition of the remainder, for a public recreation ground.

The Rangers have won many a hard fought battle there, and it was here that the success of the team was established.

To turn it from a waste – as it was until lately – to an up-to-date and successful athletic ground, no more skilful or experienced hand could have been found than that of Mr Ecclestone, who has already engineered other successful ventures of the kind.

Since acquiring the ground he has spent a considerable sum in improving it, and bringing it up-to-date, by renovating the grandstand, erecting new enclosures, and especially improving the bicycle track.

In fact it is the intention of Jolly Jumbo to make the ground one of the best places of resort for sports and athletics throughout the country.

Applications for lettings are being booked now, and secretaries of athletic and football clubs who desire to rent the ground or part of it should write at once to Mr Ecclestone at the “Chequers,” Alperton, or at the “Coach and Horses,” Stonebridge.

On Saturday and Monday, September 9th and 11th, Mr Ecclestone has arranged that the fifth annual cabmen’s festival and sports carnival, in aid of the Willesden Cottage Hospital, shall be held at this ground, and judging by the splendid programme, full particulars of which will be found in our advertisement columns, this popular event promises to be the most successful ever organised by Jolly Jumbo.

There will be flat races, cycle races, special open events, and events for cabmen and ‘busmen only, whilst others will be open to members of the London Cabdrivers’ Athletic Club only.

There will be a grand football competition on Monday for teams within a radius of five miles of Kensal Rise, by permission of the London Football Association, and in addition there will be many other attractions.

Fine weather is all that is required to make the function an enjoyable and a successful one.’

Rangers had moved to the Agricultural Showground in Park Royal in the summer of 1904.

The following year saw Jolly Jumbo’s Boxing and Wrestling Carnival at the Park Royal stadium.

Steve Russell

(Thanks to Colin Woodley for sending me the article)