John Hyam review in South London Press of ‘Shale Britannia’
13th July 2007
‘Shale Britannia’ – A Sideways Glance at Speedway’
Author: Jeff Scott
The book contains 245 colour photos taken at every track during 2005 and 2006. That allows the now-closed Wimbledon club to be featured. It has four photos – the outside of the stadium before a meeting (page 55), the empty entrance to the pits (page 56), and a general view of the track with a lone worker busy raking (page 70). The fourth photo on page 252 baffles me. It shows a plaque reading ‘Reg Potter stood here.’ I would love to know its location in the stadium.
This photo saga is a documentary-style look at ground level speedway. There are no photos of star riders, but plenty of stadium entrances, terraces, tractors, tyres and the fans. It is speedway photography in the raw, showing the sport’s warts. I regard it as a treasure trove of pictorial information, a much-needed addition to speedway literature.
To compile this unique book, Scott attended more than 200 meetings and travelled 40,000 miles. He said: “This is the story of a speedway meeting on any night or day at any track across the country.”
“It follows the same sequence: the first arrivals – spectators, riders and staff, the terraces filling, the activity in the pits, the bars and trackshop.”
“There are the races watched by breathless fans, the accidents, the victories and the loss. I’ve tried to capture speedway’s full glory, spectacle and atmosphere – the things that draw us all back endlessly to watch a speedway meeting.”
Scott has done just that. I shall constantly browse through my copy, as I do the family albums. This book is a must for all who love the grass roots appeal of speedway.
It’s a delightful documentation of a sport now entering its 80th season.