Herne Hill, why it's important to us all

Herne Hill, why it's important to us all

by SamShaw   October 4, 2012  

Track day at Herne Hill (from www.savethevelodrome.com)

Last night I watched a documentary that had been in my TV planner for a few weeks, I'd recorded it a while ago but struggled to find the time to watch, it was about Herne Hill velodrome.

I didn't really have much of a knowledge of Herne Hill, I was aware that it was an outdoor velodrome and that there was an ongoing campaign to save it but I didn't know what it needed saving from, nor did I care that much, so what if an old velodrome in London is going down the pan? They've got tons of great facilities, haven't they?

I mean, how can the loss of a velodrome affect cycling all that much, especially north of the border (or north of Watford gap for Londocentrics)?  Within minutes of watching the footage of Herne Hill I knew why it needed to be saved.  The place amazed me, nestled within housing, surrounded by mature broadleaf trees, quietly nostalgic about glories past and champions made.  This place is special; I wanted to go there immediately, I wanted to stand on its banking, pedal around it's 450m circuit, imagine I was at the 1948 olympics.  I've never been on a track before but this got me thinking I'd like to ride fixed and sprint on its recently refurbished tarmac.

If the place wasn't impressive enough, the volunteers were, these are the people that make cycling in Britain great, the time they give is invaluable, they're the caretakers of our past and the impetus for our future.  These are the people pushing for a complete redevelopment of the facility, it's a worthy cause.

Cycling's a sentimental sport, tales of great battles and hard-won victories are what ignites our passion, it doesn't matter if you live in Dulwich, Scotland or even if you've decided that the weather's too bad and you now live somewhere on the Mediterranean Riviera, we'd all suffer the loss of Herne Hill.

Read more about Herne Hill here  http://www.hernehillvelodrome.com/ and how to join the Save the Velodrome Campaign http://www.savethevelodrome.com/friends/

8 user comments

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I saw the same programme a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed it as well. Last time I went on a track was when I was 17 in the 70s, indoor near Southampton, still going I believe. Let's hope all the arguments about leases and whatnot get sorted out. Lived in West Dulwich too once, 80s, but didn't know it existed and didn't cycle so much in London anyway.

posted by Alan Tullett [1581 posts]
4th October 2012 - 22:10


What was the program called? I wonder if it made it north of the border? Thinking

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9369 posts]
4th October 2012 - 23:01



You're in luck Gkam84! Repeated on Tuesday 9th Oct, 9.30pm, it's on Eurosport.

Twitter: @velosam

SamShaw's picture

posted by SamShaw [324 posts]
5th October 2012 - 8:57


I know Herne Hill Velodrome well and it is like a time capsule in many ways. It's a great facility and historically, an important one. It has been allowed to become run down by the owner of the site and I could rattle on about the reasons for that. The stratospheric property values in the area mean the owner would rather have build property on the site. A band of enthusiasts has battled to keep the velodrome open and in use and, with support from local politicians, has managed to embarass the owner into being more pro-active about this historic site. The track ahs been resurfaced and is fantastic. But the buildings on-site are still in terrible condition and more money is required. For anyone who has the chance, a ride on the track at Herne Hill is highly recommended. And it won't cost the earth either.


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
5th October 2012 - 9:10


I must get down there at some point. We should be proud of places like this.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [1251 posts]
5th October 2012 - 14:37

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I also saw it a few weeks ago and was inspired by it too. To be honest it is not that far from me (20 miles or so) and shamefully I have not got off my arse to go over there I really must try harder.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [493 posts]
7th October 2012 - 18:13

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SamShaw wrote:

You're in luck Gkam84! Repeated on Tuesday 9th Oct, 9.30pm, it's on Eurosport.

Thanks Sam, I missed it the first time round as well, will set the Sky+ for that.
I grew up just round the corner from HH, rode there quite a bit. There was some kid called Bradley riding there at the time as well, what became of him... Wink

Monday Comp at HH, Tuesday at Palace, Wednesday Comp at HH, Thursday at the old Eastway - there was so much going on!

posted by crazy-legs [657 posts]
7th October 2012 - 19:36

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They do an introduction course. last sunday I done it with my cycling club the Southend Wheelers,If you've never ridden on a track before get booking! it was a good insight to riding on a track and riding fixed wheel in a group. If it was a little closer i'd definitely be a regular. They even supply a bike if you need one.

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posted by boffo [34 posts]
15th October 2012 - 19:38

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