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Herne Hill Velodrome re-opens following the last phase of refurbishment

Joseph Delves
30 Mar 2017

Unveiling of the pavilion completes historic venue’s long restoration

The historic velodrome that hosted the post-war Olympics in 1948 and was where a young Bradley Wiggins learned his craft, has re-opened. Originally constructed in 1891 the venue in South London is one of the world's earliest velodromes.

Over the years its banking has played host to cycling greats including Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi and Tom Simpson. However, having endured a century of waxing and waning fortunes, by the turn of the millennium the track was dilapidated and its future under serious threat.

Unable to secure a lease long enough to make investing in the venue’s restoration viable, the track looked set to fall victim to developers.

Thankfully a vigorous campaign on the part of local users along with many pro riders who had grown up riding the track, including Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton, succeeded in securing Herne Hill's future.

British Cycling committed £500,000 to the initial project, while a financial bequest by Leonard Lyes, a lifelong supporter of Herne Hill helped get the track back into shape, just in time to take advantage of the cycling boom and the build up to the 2012 Olympics.

With a 99 year lease in place Herne Hill was saved for another century.

Since then home club Velo Club Londres and other users have worked to make a huge success of the venue. Yet while the track was refurbished, the pavilion, containing covered spectating area and changing rooms remained fenced off.

Its advanced state of decay forced riders to get ready in the portable toilet cabins or mobile storage containers.

This final piece fell into place today with the re-opening of the brand new Hopkins Architects designed Exodus Travels Pavilion.

Along with £90,000 raised via crowd funding, grants from Sport England, the London Marathon Trust, Southwark Council and £100,000 from the Mayor of London’s Sports Facilities Fund, the pavilion was made possible.

Including changing facilities and coaches' room, along with covered outdoor seating and a new meeting room featuring views over the track, six original cast iron columns from the 1890's have also been incorporated into the design.

Herne Hill’s gently sloping 450 metre track is a world away from the high-tech and vertiginously steep indoor track built across town to host the 2012 Olympics.

Although old fashioned by comparison it’s the ideal place to learn the craft of track cycling and a great place to spectate. Riders wanting to give it a go can find more information on events and how to get on track here: hernehillvelodrome.com

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