We are proud to bring you a constant stream of the best and brightest entertainment news each day... but we are also proud of our reports on London past. In this series, we join up our talents and take a look at London entertainments that no longer exist, and the closest equivalent available today.
In Victorian London, roller-hockey was huge. Its popularity with Londoners is hardly surprising though, given that roller-skating was such a popular diversion at the time. Though the roller-skate seems an icon of the 1950s and then the 1970s, the first recorded use was in 1743 – in London during a stage performance. By 1876 there were an estimated 50 rinks in London, including the Lava Rink, which came complete with “magma from Mt. Vesuvius” (it stood opposite where Denmark Hill station (SE5 8BB) is today). It was a boom time for roller-skating as the toe stop was patented the same year, which means for 133 years Londoners loved roller-skating even though the trend was literally unstoppable! It wasn’t long before roller-hockey took off, with regular teams and faithful crowds lapping it all up.
Where are they now?
Surprisingly, you can play and watch inline hockey (the other name of the game) in Battersea, Beckenham, Plumstead and Hounslow (visit London Skaters for more). The National Roller Hockey Association of England (founded in 1896) is still going strong, and you can learn more about upcoming matches here. The Salvation Army hall (W1C 2DJ) near Oxford Circus rests were a rink once stood, and Sadler’s Wells (EC1R 4TN) was formerly a skating rink. Of course there’s always roller disco, held every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Renaissance Rooms in Vauxhall. Or for something a bit more rough and tumble, check out the latest match of the London Rollergirls (pictured), the Capital’s very own female-only roller derby association (and a popular fixture at the Londonist). The grrrls have a match this Saturday 6 December at the Tottenham Green Leisure Centre (N15 4JA) – between the delightfully-named Suffra Jets and Steam Rollers.
Words by Tim Benzie