Walthamstow Stadium was a greyhound racing track located in the London Borough of Waltham Forest in east London (grid reference ) and was one of a limited number of remaining greyhound race tracks operating in Greater London. The track closed in August 2008, despite assurances from the owners in December 2007 that no deal had been made to sell the track and that racing would continue for years.
It was a greyhound racing stadium for the purposes of entertainment, usually including gambling on the outcome of a race. The stadium was opened in 1933 by William Chandler and run by the Chandler family until it closed in 2008. It had a larger attendance and income from gambling than any other dog racing track in the UK, with capacity for over 5,000 spectators. It had five race meetings a week, during the day on Monday and Friday, and at night on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The first race started at 7:45 pm on Tuesday and Thursday, and at 7:30 pm on Saturday. The last race started at 10:30 pm on all three nights. Trials were held on Wednesdays and before racing. All meetings had 14 races except for the Friday meeting, which had 12. The most common races were over 475 and 640 metres, with occasional 430, 835 and 880 races for specialist greyhounds.
Twelve greyhound trainers were attached to the track. They were: Gary Baggs, Seamus Cahill, John Coleman, Paul Garland, Dickie Hawkes, Kelly Mullins, Mick Puzey, Peter Rich, Graham Sharp John Sherry and Mark Wallis. There were numerous major "open race" events, including the Arc, Stewards Cup, Puppy Stakes, The Grand Prix an original classic race and the Racing Post Festival. The track record holders were: Horseshoe Ping (14.14 seconds over 235 metres), Thankyoumadam (25.71 over 430), Barnfield on Air(28.15 over 475), Blue Meadow Lad (28.75 over 475 Hurdles), Spiridon Louis (39.19 over 640), Sizzlers Bossman (39.78 over 640 Hurdles), Star of Dromin (52.46 over 835 and 55.78 over 880) and Betathan Pebbles (67.50 over 1045).
Motor cycle speedway racing was staged at the Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium in Chingford Road in 1934 and between 1949 and 1951. Between 1949 and 1951 the team, known as the Walthamstow Wolves, raced in the National League Second Division with moderate success. The team featured ex-England international George Newton. At that time all the other London clubs, Wembley, Wimbledon, West Ham, Harringay and New Cross raced in the First Division. The sport left the stadium in the 1950s owing to declining attendance and complaints of noise from local residents. The track itself can still be seen but has been covered in tarmac for easier maintenance of the dog track.
Stock car racing
Stock car racing took place at many greyhound and speedway tracks. Between 1962 and 1968 Walthamstow Stadium was home to BriSCA "Senior" F1 and "Junior" F2 stock cars, raced by Londoners such as Rod Dore, Vic Ferriday, Maxie Bacon, Barry Brew, and more.
On 29 March 1968 the Spedeworth promotion took over the running of racing at Walthamstow with their Superstox, Stock Car, Hot Rod, Banger and Midget Racing. The promotion continued there until the end of the 1974 racing season.
Decline and closure
In 1984 a nightclub called Charlie Chan's was opened within the foundations of the clocktower. It closed permanently in November 2007. It could be said that if a person from the East End of London refers to "going down the dogs", they were probably going to the dog track at Walthamstow or Romford Greyhound Stadium. There were once 33 greyhound tracks in London, but only Romford, Wimbledon and Crayford remain, after Catford closed in 2003. The directors of Walthamstow Stadium Limited have agreed to the sale of the Company’s freehold property at Walthamstow Stadium to a development consortium led by London and Quadrant. Formal contracts have been exchanged and completion is expected on or before 1 September 2008. The final race was held during Meeting 152 on Saturday 16 August 2008 at 23:00, the winner being No. 2 'Mountjoy Diamond'. Numerous attempts to buy or lease the stadium back from developers have been made but have so far been unsuccessful. On 8 May 2012 the application for housing on the site was approved by four votes to three. On 30 October 2012 Mayor of London Boris Johnson approved the plans for housing.
In February 2016, the iconic 1930s neon lights were turned on for the first time since the stadium's closure in 2008, following a £100,000 restoration.
Uses in popular entertainment and famous facts
- The front and back cover of the Blur album Parklife were shot at the stadium
- The song "Holding back the years" by Simply Red was based on an overly friendly trainer who worked there.
- The track is referenced in the 2000 film Snatch
- The boy band East 17 filmed the video for their single "House of Love" outside the stadium.
- The stadium's neon sign is prominently featured in the video for Love on the Line by Blazin' Squad
- Used in An Education, a 2009 film.
- Used in Twenty Twelve, the 2012 BBC satire about the London 2012 Olympic Games
- David Beckham's first job was a glass collector at the stadium
- BBC News pictures of Walthamstow Stadium
- Satellite view of Walthamstow Stadium
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