After more than a century, the SCCU Good Friday Meeting is to move from Herne Hill Velodrome, the oldest surviving venue of the 1948 Olympics, to the London 2012 velodrome at Lee Valley VeloPark. The first edition at its new home will take place on Friday 18 April.
The event, organised and promoted by Bristow Events on behalf of the Southern Counties Cycling Union (SCCU), was first held in 1903 – making it three months older than the Tour de France.
But its outdoor venue means that it is vulnerable to the weather – in 2010, rain forced its cancellation, causing the SCCU to move the event to Manchester in 2011 to guarantee it could go ahead.
That was a blow to campaigners fighting to save the historic venue, although the following month it was announced that British Cycling had agreed a 15-year-lease with the site’s landlords.
The track has since been resurfaced and had floodlights installed and there are plans to build a new pavillion.
The Good Friday Meeting returned to Herne Hill in 2012 and again last year for what now turns out to have been the final time.
In a statement, the organisers said:
We know that many of our supporters at Herne Hill will be disappointed that they will not be making their annual pilgrimage to Burbage Road - and it will certainly be a very strange feeling for us to not be unlocking the gates at 6 o’clock in the morning – but after 110 years of forecast watching we will not be at the mercy of the British weather this year!
This decision has not been taken lightly. We’ve spent several months weighing up all of the options whilst constantly aiming to bring the best afternoon’s racing we can to our loyal supporters.
Herne Hill is a much-loved and highly respected venue and work to renovate and evolve into a multi-use facility is ongoing, taking it from strength to strength and elevating it far above its Victorian peers.
Whilst the Good Friday meeting is undoubtedly a part of the velodrome’s history we are aware that track racing has moved on over the years and the event also needs to evolve to meet the expectations of the new generation of enthusiasts and supporters.
With this in mind, we felt that it was appropriate to bring the meeting to an indoor venue.
Rest assured, Herne Hill will continue to be a home of world-class events and we fully intend to expand the number of outdoor-specific and continental-style events we promote at the venue, returning to the traditions and racing styles which the venue has hosted for over a century.
To our traditional supporters we say come with us, and to our new supporters we say welcome to some great racing!
More information about the 2014 Good Friday Meeting, including a link to book tickets, can be found here.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.