Richmond Ice Rink
|Location||Clevedon Road, Twickenham, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames|
Richmond Ice Rink was an ice skating rink at Clevedon Road, Twickenham, formerly in Middlesex and now in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. When it opened, in 1928, it had the longest ice surface in any indoor rink in the world and it soon became the premier rink in London. The rink closed in 1992 and the building was demolished.
Richmond Ice Rink in a sense replaced a roller-skating rink at a very similar location. This had been built before the First World War on Cambridge Road, East Twickenham, part of the lands of the historic Cambridge House owned by the poet Richard Owen Cambridge and his son Archdeacon George Cambridge. The disused rink was bought in 1914 by the French industrialist Charles Pelabon for use as a munitions factory. He built four or five more workshops over the extensive site, and one of the last was the red-brick riverside building of 1915 which later became Richmond Ice Rink. From 1914-15 about 6,000 Belgian refugees, some of them injured soldiers, settled in the Twickenham and Richmond area after the Germans invaded their country and most of the bread-winners became workers at the factory. <Belgian Refugees in Richmond in the First World War | Helen Baker | 2014></Journal of the Richmond Local History Society | 35 | 7-17>
The new rink
After the war almost all the Belgian refugees returned home, but Charles Pelabon continued to use the site for general engineering until 1924. He then sold it to Charles Langdon, who had developed the ice rink at Hammersmith. He converted the factory into an ice rink which opened on 18 December 1928. All the skating clubs that had previously been based at the ice-rinks at Hammersmith and Earl's Court transferred to Richmond, making it the premier rink in London.
Joachim von Ribbentrop, appointed German Ambassador to Britain in 1936, bought a house next door to the ice rink; his hobby was ice dancing and he reputedly spent his evenings skating and socialising at the rink. He was appointed German foreign minister in 1938 and was later executed for war crimes following the Nuremberg Trials in 1946.
At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the rink was ordered to close but the American Embassy persuaded the British Government to allow it to reopen as many American servicemen had skated and played ice hockey at the rink.
Arnold Gerschwiler was head coach at the Richmond Ice Rink from 1938 and was made director in 1964 until its demolition in 1992. Betty Callaway, best known for coaching Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, the 1984 Olympic ice-skating champions, became a skating coach at the rink in 1950.
Richmond Ice Rink also was the home ice for several ice hockey teams. Richmond Flyers which played at premier league level in the British Hockey League was perhaps the most successful, under then coach Alec Goldstone.
Closure and demolition
The rink was sold in 1978 to a property developer, who kept it running until 1987, when it was bought by another property company, the London and Edinburgh Trust, then chaired by John Beckwith and his brother Peter, who intended to develop the site for luxury housing. The planning consent stipulated that the company had to construct a new rink on an alternative site in the borough. In 1989, Richmond upon Thames Council accepted £2.5 million as compensation and withdrew this condition.
In 1992, the rink closed and the building was demolished. No replacement rink has been built.
- The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Volunteer Support Group (2013). The Building of a Borough. London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. pp. 59–61.
- "Richmond Ice Rink: From "leisure centre" to luxury apartments in Twickenham". Twickenham Museum. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- "'The best ice rink in the world'". Richmond and Twickenham Times. 19 August 2005. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Gareth A Davies (14 February 2002). "Ice Skating: Richmond quintet find new homes have replaced their old haunt". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- Chris Blackhurst (28 July 1996). "Tory fund-raiser blamed for loss of town ice rink". The Independent on Sunday (London). Retrieved 28 April 2013.