The Herne Hill Velodrome
is a velodrome
or track cycling
venue in south London
. Built in 1891 (making it one of the oldest cycling tracks in the world), it hosted the track cycle racing events in the 1948 Summer Olympics
. Since the demolition of the track at Paddington
Recreation Ground in 1987 and pending the construction of a new velodrome in Stratford
for the 2012 Summer Olympics
, Herne Hill is the only track in London.
Originally named the London County Grounds, it takes its modern name from the locality, being situated in a park off Burbage Road, in Herne Hill, part of the London Borough of Southwark.
Unlike a modern Olympic velodrome (which will have an inner circumference of 250m, and banking of about 45°), Herne Hill is a shallow concrete bowl measuring approximately 450m with the steepest banking 30°.
The grandstand which still stands on the site (albeit now boarded up) is the original one dating from 1891. In the 1890's there was a cinder athletics track inside the cycle track, and tennis courts within that. The tennis courts later became the site of the current football/rugby pitch.
A campaign was fought to retain it during the early 2000s following a dispute between the landlord, Dulwich Estate
, and the leaseholder, Southwark Council. A supporter of the campaign was Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins
, who started racing at Herne Hill when he was 12.
Supporters see the velodrome playing a role in supporting track cyclists from the London area in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.
Herne Hill hosts regular training for local riders, and from 1903 was venue for the Good Friday meeting organised by the Southern Counties Cycle Union. World champions have performed at Good Friday meetings, which during the 1920s and 1930s attracted attendances of 10,000. National and world records have been established there - Norwood Paragon's Frank Southall was a notable record-breaker in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
In the centre of the track is a football
pitch. The Velodrome was home of Crystal Palace F.C.
from 1914 until 1918, when the club then moved to The Nest
opposite Selhurst Station. Crystal Palace were forced by the Admiralty to leave Crystal Palace Football Stadium
and move to the Velodrome due to the Crystal Palace being commandeered for WW1 training purposes. Typically Crystal Palace FC drew crowds of 3,000 - 4,000.
The amateur Football Cup final in 1911, between Bromley and Bishop Auckland, was also at Herne Hill.