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Walthamstow *insert Going To The Dogs joke here*

By Craigie_B Last edited 108 months ago
Walthamstow *insert Going To The Dogs joke here*
dogracing190508.jpg

So, Walthamstow. Anyone been? This Londonista has never ventured to the top end of the Victoria Line, despite living at its southern-most outpost only a few years ago.

What is there to do in Walthamstow? It certainly has its claims to history - a local chap may have built the first British petrol-driven car, and socialist writer William Morris came from there too. But most people either associate the place with Walthamstow Stadium (and therefore with dog-racing) or with artwork for the Blur album Parklife (and, er, therefore with dog-racing) or with the film Snatch (you get the drift).

While Diamond Geezer's random borough tour will eventually reveal more to us, until then - Walthamstow is simply All About The Dogs.

Well, not for much longer. In August, the Walthamstow Stadium will close its doors permanently. Operating since 1933, it has reportedly seen the biggest crowds - and income - of any dog-racing track in the UK, but this has now faltered. Owners blame the 2001 gambling reforms, which saw attendances and profits tumble as people prefer to bet elsewhere (online; at home or in shops) rather than nab some reassuringly manky scampi & chips and watch the thing properly.

Londonist is not entirely convinced by this argument - times have clearly moved on, but we're not sure if this is just people's betting habits that are changing, or whether the consistent strength of protests at the treatment of greyhounds have affected prospective punters' views. And younger generations' leisure habits have shifted far away from their parents'. Also are we the only ones guessing that this is all maybe to hide the simple fact that a developer has just put in an amazingly profitable offer on an attractive up-and-coming site?

In any case, the sport is part of London's history - in both senses of the phrase. At the zenith of dog-racing there were 33 tracks in London, and now we may be down to just two. With the trade in serious decline, Londonist will be headed north next week to see this Grade II listed place work as it intended, as we are guessing that converting everything to luxury flats behind the famous facade won't quite be the same. Some dodgy scampi will be munched*, some confused bets will be placed and lost. As big dog fans, a hefty donation to the retired greyhounds charity will be made, too.

* From what we see, the quality of the nosh won't be securing a recommendation from Londonist's own whats for lunch crew before it shuts...

speeding hare pic taking from higgott's Flickrstream

Last Updated 20 May 2008

Ham

Oh no! thanks for the heads-up. As you say, an institution.