Good Friday Meeting leaves Herne Hill after 111 years for velodrome at Lee Valley VeloPark

Historic event swaps one iconic Olympic venue in London for another (rain-free) one

by Simon_MacMichael   March 18, 2014  

SCCU Good Friday Meeting logo

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.

8 user comments

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I'm sorry to hear that it's moved from the characterful and historic Herne Hill site to a redeveloped industrial area somewhere in East London.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2233 posts]
18th March 2014 - 11:35

26 Likes

Yes, its moved to an area where there is heaps of parking for the competitors and if that's full some very secure bike parking. NOT.

How are competitors supposed to lug bikes, turbos, spare wheels, kit
etc to the venue. They don't all belong to team sky and can rock up in shorts and just put on their shoes and the rest is done for them.

Oh, they could arrive by tube at Westfield and walk the half mile with it all if it wasn't for the fact they can't take it all on the tube in the first place.

What fun.

posted by duc888 [38 posts]
18th March 2014 - 13:27

17 Likes

Don't get me wrong - the Stratford Velodrome is a lovely building and the atmosphere was superb during London 2012. As with Bespoked, though, I feel like something irreplaceable will be lost from grass-roots cycling if these events happen in what is basically a sports centre, albeit a posh one.

posted by Yennings [224 posts]
18th March 2014 - 16:17

22 Likes

Completely shocked ! But I am sure the organisers have thought hard about this. I wish them luck.

Can't see any prices yet on the website, I hope it's not too expensive to watch. How many riders are allowed to race at the velodrome as well ? Don't riders have to take a few courses first before they can race on the velodrome ?

It will be a big thing not having to worry about the weather. But some how can't help thinking we've lost something really important.
THAT'S CHANGE FOR YOU Worried

Rupert's picture

posted by Rupert [100 posts]
18th March 2014 - 16:18

9 Likes

I put my name to the 'Save Herne Hill' campaign to preserve the history, the Easter meet being quoted as too much to lose, why did I bother!

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [963 posts]
18th March 2014 - 22:01

4 Likes

antonio wrote:
I put my name to the 'Save Herne Hill' campaign to preserve the history, the Easter meet being quoted as too much to lose, why did I bother!

Herne Hill is still there. I went past today. I haven't ridden there for a while but maybe I should put that on my to do list for this year. It has become much more popular in the last couple of years and the sessions are pretty busy now. This has its issues and someone I know was injured recently due to an incident with a newbie rider but is healing up at least.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2233 posts]
19th March 2014 - 10:14

14 Likes

I thought you might like to know a bit of background to the decision to move to the Lee Valley Velodrome from Herne Hill. Historically we used to "lose" about one meeting in ten to rain or adverse weather. Recently it's been about one in four (climate change?), that doesn't mean the meeting is canceled every time just that there are fewer spectators. This year the rain has seriously affected the surroundings to the track, it couldn't really be confirmed that the trackside would be suitable for spectators on the back and ends of the track. In addition there would be little parking for riders cars. Thus sadly it was decided to move to the new location.
We are just ordinary club members trying to keep a historic meeting going, any losses can be considerable and are funded out of our own pockets. We still hope to return to Herne Hill.

posted by Ant34 [1 posts]
20th March 2014 - 11:39

3 Likes

Oh well that all seems pretty fair to me, good luck with the event at the Olympic Velodrome or rather the Lee Valley Velodrome.

Rupert's picture

posted by Rupert [100 posts]
20th March 2014 - 14:05

2 Likes