Sunday, 17 August 2008

Walthamstow Dog Track

Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium finally closed this weekend, after seventy five years of life.
I managed to visit the famous & iconic venue last month, and here are my snaps.
I'm not a big fan of the dogs, but it is a sport I enjoy now and again. I used to pop along to my old, now sadly demolished local one, at Catford, three or four times a year. This was my first-and only-trip to Walthamstow. There was a big crowd here on the evening I went. And they got bigger as the closure date loomed. Everyone from east London, Essex & beyond, wanting 'one last night' at 'The Stow'.

If you don't mind dog racing, but don't bother going, then pop along to your local track a few times a year. It really will make the difference between survival & oblivion for the sport.

You will find a number of photos duplicated on here, especially of the huge scoreboard, & the frontage from outside. I make no apologies for this. Once they are gone they are gone forever. Whilst it is probably the most photographed thing in the history of dog racing in the capital, it would not have felt right for me not to take a number of pictures of it. I've tried to capture the flavour of the meeting, by paying to get into the more expensive grandstand side, then asking to move to the far side, which was the cheaper 'popular' side. I pretended 'my old man' was meeting me, & hed' gone in the cheaper side by mistake. The bloke on the gate let me through, even though there were 'no transfers' between the two sections.



The famous frontage.



And a little closer.





Still a predominantly white & working class crowd, it does attract some locals from across the multi-cultural make up of the population that is London.



Well I did tell you I took a few of this! I won't bother pointing it out anymore, you should know what it is by now!



This is the 'scoreboard' on the reverse. Again this will feature in a number of pictures.



At many larger dog tracks there are glass fronted bar and restaurants. Obviously what the punters want, but call me old fashioned, I just can't watch the dogs from inside.



Before walking down the main side I walked round behind the track, & this was my first view of the popular side. The fence was to stop people going from both & forth between the toe differently priced sides.



I took this snap through the fence.



Turning back, and you can see a childrens' play area. Dog racing is cheap, fun, and somewhere safe to take the whole family for a night out.



This a view from the corner, up on an open smoking balcony, outside a bar area, over to the main side.



This kiosk was closed. I would guess it's quite an old sign, probably from the seventies, or eighties.







This is more like it! If horse racing is the sport of kings, then going to the dogs is for the working class masses.



The reason you pay more on the main side...you get a view of the finishing line.



And,for most races, the exciting start as they come out of the traps.



As you can see here you don't have to be stuck behind glass.



The serious betting goes on with the bookmakers down at trackside.







And so I went round to the popular side. I loved this sign in the centre of the stand.



A look back across to the main side. you clearly get no views of the finish at all. But there are telly replays in all the bars, if you want to watch them.



A look along the popular side, from the far end.



There is no spectator access behind the far end. I presume this is the kennels area.



A few people sat here later on, but most punters flitted between the bars and the middle, to exit areas, of the stand.



A sign from inside. How I HATE track six! And never ever bet on it! I simply cannot bring myself to back anything in black & white stripes..which is hated t*****g & mitcham colours!



Down the stand, from the other end.



Bookies again at the front.



The dogs enjoy the hare at the finish.



If you blow all your savings at the dogs there's always that pot of gold to look for at the end of the rainbow!



No your eyes are not deceiving you. That is a horse at a dog track! One of the benficiaries of the meeting tonight was a retired race horse association.





Another look over to the main side, albeit not too clear, as it's into the sun.



The middle of the popular side is getting more crowded.



This leads to closed Tote windows, from more popular days, & the toilets; with the bars being up above.



The serious money changes hands here.





Another look down the popular side, which IS clearly popular!



Here's the bar & seating area inside.



With another view across.



Beer & betting. This geezer's clearly having a good night out.



One last look before I leave, truth is I'm not really here to bet, as I haven't go much spare cash to lose. My real purpose was simply to savour such a well known venue before it disappears for ever.So I'm not staying til the last race.



I leave through the popular side entrance.





And take a final few pictures of the sign, as it lights up, with the night drawing in.







I even try an 'arty farty' reflective couple, on the parked cars!









Farwell Walthamstow Dogs. consigned to the history books forever. I'm glad a had a brief 'one night stand' with you.

2 comments:

mberenis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

sorry i missed Walthamstow. I was in London doing a play when it closed. Read about it in the papers. Knew about it for years, first read about it in a Sam Shepard play that i actually got to act in years later. It is always a dark day when the past goes away.