by Lee Richardson
A photograph on the Wychwood’s Local History website prompted Lee Richardson to write this short biography of his relative, Ivan Wright. The photo shows the Wright family at harvest with John Francis Wright in the centre of the scene. John’s father was Ivan Wright, and a cousin of Lee’s grandfather.
Ivan Wright was born in 1887 in Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire. His father, Jack, was a native of Cheshire and in addition to being a farmer was also a greyhound trainer. It is through the greyhound connection that the family moved to Scotland. Jack Wright trained coursing greyhounds for Mr Leonard Pilkington of Cavens, Kirkbean and was appointed as farm manager to him.
Ivan Wright moved to London in the early part of the 20th century and joined the Metropolitan police force, in 1923 he married Edith Harris whilst serving as a constable in the city. They had one son, John Francis Wright born in 1925 in Romford, Essex.
The family association with coursing greyhounds goes back to Ivan’s grandfather who bred and trained dogs from the late 1870s onwards. Several of Ivan’s uncles and cousins successfully trained winners of the Waterloo Cup. Greyhound racing came to Britain from America in the late 1920s and according to the Greyhound Stud Book Ivan was listed as a public trainer of greyhounds whilst living at Ilford, Essex in 1935.
He appears to have retired from the force at some point and is listed in the 1939 register as living at the Kings Head, Chinnor, Oxfordshire with his family. Although they are the only people present at the address, his occupation is listed as Police Pensioner and not as Landlord. Three years earlier they had resided at The Royal Oak public house in the same area.
It is around this time that the family moved to Shipton Under Wychwood and the 1941 stud book lists Ivan Wright as living at Little Stock, Meadow Lane in the village. In addition to training greyhounds he is shown as owning several greyhounds.
Disaster befell the family with the loss of John Francis Wright in 1944 whilst in Maidstone, Kent training as an officer cadet with the Royal Corps of Signals. He had attended Burford Grammar School and is mentioned as one of the fallen alumni at Christchurch College, Oxford. He is buried at St Mary’s churchyard.
As was common with the ownership of greyhounds Ivan gave his dogs registered names that started with his own initials: Indian Wave, Imperial Wave, Inky Wave, etc. I can perhaps only speculate but I suspect that Ivan Wright trained greyhounds for the sport of racing and possibly took them to the Oxford greyhound track which opened in 1939.
Ivan continued to train greyhounds at Shipton Under Wychwood until around 1950, his younger brother, Hardy Wright, saw some success in this era and trained Waterloo Cup winning greyhounds at Cummertrees, near Annan.
Ivan Wright passed away in 1971, his death being registered in Banbury and his wife Edith Mary Wright nee Harris died in 1996, her death was registered in West Oxfordshire.