Walthamstow Stadium

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Walthamstow Stadium
Walthamstow Stadium - geograph.org.uk - 18081.jpg
The front facade in 2005
LocationChingford Road, London, E4 8SJ
Coordinates 51°36′14″N0°00′57″E / 51.603759°N 0.015948°E / 51.603759; 0.015948
Date opened15 April 1933;89 years ago (1933-04-15)
Date closed16 August 2008;14 years ago (2008-08-16)
Race type Greyhound racing

Walthamstow Stadium was a greyhound racing track in the London Borough of Waltham Forest in east London. [1] It was regarded as the leading greyhound racing stadium in Britain following the closure of White City in 1984. [2] The stadium closed on 16 August 2008.


Greyhound racing

Inside Walthamstow Stadium in 2008 Walthamstow greyhound racing stadium - geograph.org.uk - 1904413.jpg
Inside Walthamstow Stadium in 2008

Crooked Billet

In the early part of the 20th century the Myrtle Grove sports ground was built and used by the Walthamstow Grange Football Club from 1908. [3] By 1929 the ground hosted greyhound racing for the first time and was known as the Crooked Billet Greyhound and whippet track (named after the nearby Crooked Billet public house). [4] The track was an independent track, unaffiliated to a governing body. [2] In 1931, William Chandler, a bookmaker by trade, decided to build on the existing independent track. Chandler also had shares in the Hackney Wick Stadium. [2]


It cost Chandler £24,000 to buy the site and the Art Deco parapet entrance was built in 1932 with the clock tower and totalisator board being designed by Thomas & Edge Ltd. builders of Woolwich. The grand official opening was on Monday 19 June 1933, opened by Jack Kid Berg [5] [6] and in which aviator Amy Johnson presented a trophy as a guest. [7]

Pre-war history

From 1931 to 1943 the stadium underwent three major rebuilds as Chandler strived for the perfect stadium. The kennels and paddock were situated between the third and fourth bends with a veterinary room and trainers room at either end. Between the first and second bends was the Senior Club sandwiched by two stands. The back straight had one large covered stand but the home straight had another Senior Club which was located under the upstairs ballroom and dance band. There were two tea rooms and a wet and dry bar in the main grandstand and sixteen tote buildings. The track was 440 yards in circumference and was described as the slowest and most difficult course in London. The hare was an 'Inside Sumner' and there was an artesian well near the fourth bend used for watering the track. [8]

On 13 January 1938 the track raced under National Greyhound Racing Club rules for the first time. In 1941 the stadium introduced its first major competition, called 'The Test'. The trainers and greyhounds attached to Walthamstow were situated in kennels to the north called 'The Limes' in Sewardstone Road not far from Epping Forest. Walthamstow were unusual in the fact that they hired several female trainers at the time; a practice attributed to the influence of Frances Chandler (the wife of William's son Charles). Frances was a leading greyhound owner in the industry. [9] Female trainers employed during the period mentioned included Mrs F Deathbridge, Meg Fairbrass, Miss J Griffiths and Mrs B Lark. Wartime champion greyhound Ballynennan Moon won the Stewards Cup and broke the track record in 1942. [8]

Late 1940s

As the war ended the stadium hosted to Winston Churchill as he addressed 20,000 people when canvassing support for re-election. A major event called the Grand Prix was inaugurated in 1945 and later became a classic race. Towards the end of 1946 William 'Billy' Chandler died leaving equal shares of the business to his children. Charles became the new Managing Director, Victor snr (whose son is Victor Chandler) and Jack were concentrating on their bookmaking businesses and Ronnie was training greyhounds in Ireland. [2] The industry and Walthamstow experienced an extraordinary boom in business with tote turnover in excess of £7 million in 1946. [10]

In 1948 the track had their first English Greyhound Derby finalist in Doughery Boy and two more female trainers Noreen Collin and Miss K Sanderson joined in 1950. Joe Coral (founder of Coral Empire) stood as a track bookmaker before branching into betting offices in the sixties. [2] In 1952 the neon lighting greyhound sign was added to commemorate the 1952 Coronation, the same year the land which housed the Salisbury Hall Manor House (once owned by Henry VIII) was purchased by Chandler, demolished and used as the car park for the stadium. [2]

1950s and 1960s

Tom 'Paddy' Reilly, Dave Geggus and Barney O’Connor became three very prominent trainers at the track and in the industry; Reilly replaced Noreen Collin in 1953. Other trainers at the time were Jack Durkin, Kevin O'Neil and Reg 'String' Marsh. In 1963 the track introduced a closed circuit television system [11] and in 1965 chromotography (a drug testing unit) was first used at Walthamstow in their purpose built lab. In 1968 the bends were sanded and banked producing a much faster surface than all-grass. [12]


Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium c.1970 Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium c.1970.png
Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium c.1970

In 1971 a new stand with a restaurant and an escalator were added. [12] Charles Chandler (1976) and his brother Victor Chandler (1977) both died, bringing uncertainty as to the future of the company. Charles Chandler Jr. was made the new chairman and Percy Chandler the new managing director. Victor Chandler Jr. inherited a 20% stake but sold his share concentrating on the bookmaking business. The Greyhound Racing Association held a third share in the track but had to sell to alleviate their debts. Suddenly it became apparent that an interested party could acquire a 52% stake and have the controlling interest. Coral and Ladbrokes expressed an interest but Charles Jr., Percy and Frances Chandler spent over £400,000 to withstand the takeover attempts and buy the track outright. [2]


Walthamstow Stadium scoreboard W-stadium-scoreboard.jpg
Walthamstow Stadium scoreboard

Racing Manager (RM) Ray Spalding left to be replaced by Tony Smith in 1983 with Chris Page as assistant RM. Charley Chan's nightclub was built under the clock tower totalisator board in 1984 and a new generation of trainer included Jim Sherry, Dick Hawkes and Kenny Linzell. In 1986 one of the leading trainers in the country had just joined Oxford Stadium but switched to Walthamstow after receiving a late job offer. Less than a year later Baggs trained Signal Spark to the 1987 English Greyhound Derby crown, remarkably the first time the track had achieved the accolade. [13]

A fourth major event was introduced in 1987, called the Arc. After Barney O'Connor died in 1988 further trainer appointments included Ernie Gaskin Sr. in 1988 and John Coleman in 1989. Walthamstow became the leading track in Britain and in 1988 tote turnover figures were £16,355,089. [2]


Chris Page became Racing Manager and a second Derby triumph arrived when Slippy Blue won the 1990 event. Page recruited Linda Mullins who went on to win five Greyhound Trainer of the Year awards. The track earned their first Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service contract and John Coleman won the trainers championship. Another leading trainer called Paul Young arrived during 1996. [14] In 1998 the Racing Post sponsored the Racing Post Festival at the track. [15] Trainer Linda Jones was appointed in 1999,[ citation needed ] and would be Greyhound Trainer of the Year twice.

Final years

The front facade in 2006 W-stadium-main.jpg
The front facade in 2006

Linda Mullins retired with the trainers going to her son John, Ernie Gaskin Sr. retired in 2005 with the kennels being taken over by his son Ernest Gaskin Jr. and Mark Wallis took over from Linda Jones. Despite the success the directors agreed to the sale of the company's freehold property to a development consortium led by Yoo Capital and K W Linfoot plc. Formal contracts were exchanged. The final race was held on Saturday 16 August at 11pm, the winner being trap two 'Mountjoy Diamond'. [15]


Motor cycle speedway racing was staged at the Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium in Chingford Road in 1934 and between 1949 and 1951. Between 1949 and 1951 the team, known as the Walthamstow Wolves, raced in the National League Second Division with moderate success. The team included ex-England international George Newton. At that time all the other London clubs, Wembley, Wimbledon, West Ham, Harringay and New Cross raced in the First Division. The sport left the stadium in the 1950s owing to declining attendance and complaints of noise from local residents. The track was covered in tarmac for easier maintenance of the dog track.[ citation needed ]

Stock car racing

Stock car racing took place at many greyhound and speedway tracks. Between 1962 and 1968 Walthamstow Stadium was home to BriSCA "Senior" F1 and "Junior" F2 stock cars.[ citation needed ]

On 29 March 1968 the Spedeworth promotion took over the running of racing at Walthamstow with their Superstox, Stock Car, Hot Rod, Banger and Midget Racing. The promotion continued there until the end of the 1974 racing season.[ citation needed ]

Decline and closure

Walthamstow Stadium front range neon lighting after full restoration in 2016 2016 Walthamstow Stadium A112 Chingford Mount Road London England.jpg
Walthamstow Stadium front range neon lighting after full restoration in 2016
Walthamstow Stadium front range in daylight (2017) Walthamstow Stadium, Chingford Mount Road, Waltham Forest, England.jpg
Walthamstow Stadium front range in daylight (2017)

In 1984 a nightclub called Charlie Chan's was opened within the foundations of the clocktower. It closed permanently in November 2007. It could be said that if a person from the East End of London refers to "going down the dogs", they were probably going to the dog track at Walthamstow or Romford Greyhound Stadium. There were once 33 greyhound tracks in London, but only Romford and Crayford remain, after Catford closed in 2003 and Wimbledon in 2017.

The directors of Walthamstow Stadium Limited have agreed to the sale of the company's freehold property at Walthamstow Stadium to a development consortium led by London and Quadrant. They claim falling profits and attendances forced the sale. Formal contracts have been exchanged and completion is expected on or before 1 September 2008. The final race was held during Meeting 152 on Saturday 16 August 2008 at 23:00, the winner being No. 2 'Mountjoy Diamond'. Numerous attempts to buy or lease the stadium back from developers have been made but have so far been unsuccessful. [16] On 8 May 2012 the application for housing on the site was approved by four votes to three. [17] On 30 October 2012 Mayor of London Boris Johnson approved the plans for housing. [18] The stadium buildings were demolished and were replaced with 292 new homes, but the Grade II-listed front facade remains.

In February 2016 the 1930s neon lights were turned on for the first time since the stadium's closure in 2008, following a £100,000 restoration. [19] [20]


The Grand Prix

The Arc

The Test

Steward's Cup

The Circuit

Extended content
1944 Ballyhennessy Seal Lone Seal – Canadian GloryStan Martin (Wimbledon) 28.594-11fTrack record
1945 Rushton RangerHarry Spoor (New Cross) 29.38100-7
1946 Gullane IdolStanley Biss (Clapton) 28.9411-8f
1947 Trev's Perfection Trev's Despatch-Friar TuckFred Trevillion (Private)28.805-2
1948 Funny MickRuby Border – Olives IdolBob Burls (Wembley) 28.689-4
1949 Black CoffeeE Harding (Charlton) 29.057-2
1950 Kismet DFred Trevillion (Private)28.954-1
1956 Grand RejectBill Fear (Walthamstow)28.4810-11f
1957 Local SwallowGaltee Cleo – Put Your Shoes on LucyTom Paddy Reilly (Walthamstow)28.565-1
1958 Kilcaskin Kern Magourna Reject - PavonaTony Dennis (Private)28.388-13f
1959 Town KingSmall Town – Orphan Princess Leslie Reynolds (Wembley) 28.286-4f
1960 Dunstown PaddyChampion Prince – Geffs LinnettTom Paddy Reilly (Walthamstow)28.574-6f
1962 Geddys QueenieFourth of July – Selected MissDave Geggus (Walthamstow)28.03
1963 WestparkHi There - FaoideTom Paddy Reilly (Walthamstow)27.60
1966 Peculiar Way George Curtis (Portsmouth)
1971 CobblerMonalee Champion – YurituniDave Geggus (Walthamstow)29.114-7f
1972 Say LittleAlbany – Newhouse BlueColin McNally (Perry Barr) 28.854-5f
1973 Kenneallys MoorMoordyke Spot – Kenneallys TuneClare Orton (Wimbledon) 29.405-1
1974 Leaders ChampionMonalee Champion – Little LeaderDave Geggus (Walthamstow)29.053-1
1975 FalbanMove Gas – Monlena DollyCharlie Coyle (Private)29.361-1f
1976 Knocktoo BillKilbelin Style – She Is LandingDave Geggus (Walthamstow)29.0911-8f
1977 Huberts ConsortMortor Light – Harmony LinkTom Paddy Reilly (Walthamstow)29.178-11f
1978 Pigeon FlyerMel's Pupil – Majorca YankTom Reilly (Walthamstow)29.146-1
1979 It's StylishKilbelin Style – Ashfield LadyJohn Sherry (Walthamstow)29.104-1
1980 Lift ComingSunvalley Star – Brilliant MindDick Hawkes (Walthamstow)28.824-5f
1981 Deel Joker [21] Free Speech – Leaping LadyJohn Gibbons (Crayford) 28.754-11f
1982 Rikasso HikerGlenore Hiker – Lady MyrtownTheo Mentzis (Milton Keynes) 28.953-1
1983 Raceway MickBallintee Star – Tullamaine Moon Adam Jackson (Wembley) 28.901-1f
1984 Kylemore ChampLindas Champion – Airglooney LassTerry Duggan (Romford) 29.029-4f
1985 Ballintubber One [22] Killaclug Jet – Ballintubber Peg Kenny Linzell (Walthamstow)29.137-2
1986 Hot Sauce YankeeSand Man – Westpark GoldieDerek Knight (Brighton) 28.764-6f
1987 Flashy SirSand Man – Cherry Express Nick Savva (Milton Keynes) 28.807-2
1988 Round the BendGlatton Grange – Three Point Turn28.78
1989 Yes SpeedyCurryhills Fox - Yes Mam John McGee Sr. (Private)28.69
1990 Make MagicManorville Sand – Roses Spots Ernie Gaskin Sr. (Private)28.5311-10f
1991 Ridgedale GoldDaleys Gold – Nalced BeautyPaul Garland (Oxford) 28.855-2
1992 Barbarian PrinceMoral Support – Barbary DollMick Douglass (Rye House) 28.857-1
1993 Lyons DoubleCastlelyons Gem – Lyons LadyDonna Pickett (Canterbury) 29.304-1
1994 Connells Cross [23] Adraville Bridge – Ballydrisheen Ernie Gaskin Sr. (Walthamstow)28.557-1
1995 Countrywide FoxGreenpark Fox – Quare Wish John Coleman (Walthamstow)29.004-5f
1996 Forward VentureSlaneyside Hare – Rose VentureChris Duggan (Walthamstow)28.7011-4
1997 Velvet TomSummerhill Gift – Velvet CoatDavid Firmager (Private)28.865-2f
1998 Knockrour CasperMoaning Lad – Why Stella Ernie Gaskin Sr. (Walthamstow)28.947-1
1999 CeekayCry Dalcash – Supa Plan Linda Mullins (Walthamstow)28.905-2
2000 Mumble SwerveDruids Wally - Rhincrew Diane Linda Jones (Walthamstow)28.688-1
2001 Blue GoonerStaplers Jo – Code DancerJohn Mullins (Walthamstow)28.775-4f
2002 Palacemews LadRoanokee – Lisnak SlippyJohn Mullins (Walthamstow)29.025-2
2003 Lozzas DreamHe Knows – Jumbos MothDerek Knight (Hove) 29.005-4f
2004 Margan BluebellConcorde Direct – Tobys Girl Linda Jones (Walthamstow)28.977-4
2005 Kindred RebelTop Honcho – Cleanaway SheilaMick Puzey (Walthamstow)28.677-1
2006 Cobra StrikingBrett Lee – Miss TetleyErnest Gaskin Jr. (Private)28.926-4f
2007 Jazz HurricaneTop Honcho – Lucy MayDerek Knight (Hove) 28.691-1f

1944-1974 (525 yards), 1951-1955 (not held), 1975-2007 (475m)

Track records

Pre Metric records

Extended content
500 Ballyhennessy Seal 28.59 1944Circuit Final
500Shaggy Lass28.5513.12.1945
525 Ballynennan Moon 29.7921.11.1942
525Ballyoulster Deemster29.7610.1951 Grand Prix heats
525Rushton Smutty29.7410.1951 Grand Prix heats
525Olivers Lad29.7310.1951 Grand Prix second round
525Rushton Smutty29.7010.1951 Grand Prix semi-finals
525Duet Leader [24] 29.241956
525Some Cheatha28.9509.1968
525Say Little28.831972
700Stylish Nancy40.9229.11.1945
700Kilbelin Dancer40.811948
700The Fixer40.0904.08.1962
700Switch Hitter40.0508.1968
700Hong Kong Bay39.9109.1968
700Cash For Dan39.881970
700Breachs Buzzard39.781971
880Hiver Whitenose52.541968
880Hiver Whitenose52.131968
880Todos Liza51.5807.10.1968 Test heats
525 HFrating Dan31.0110.04.1943
525 HBaytown Blackbird30.521946
525 HLisnalong Hero30.0601.05.1965
700 HDogstown Queen41.3328.08.1965

Post Metric records

Extended content
235Often Hungry14.2312.11.1987
235Ard Boxer14.2312.03.1988
235Farncombe Black [25] 14.1625.08.1988
235Horseshoe Ping14.1416.09.2006
235Horseshoe Ping14.1417.11.2007
415Roseville Fergie25.0618.08.1987
415Close Enough25.0319.06.1990
415Roslo Speedy24.9909.07.1994
415Kilmacsimon Wave24.8814.09.1995
430Thank You Madam25.7120.08.2005
430Milldean Flash25.7016.08.2008
435Glover Hill Boy25.9701.08.1996
435Union Decree25.7119.11.1998
475Blissful Hero28.721978
475Deel Joker [21] 28.5418.07.1981Circuit heats
475Connells Cross28.5509.07.1994
475Star of Tyrone28.4919.03.1995
475Westmead Chick28.4911.06.1995
475Pennys Worth28.4219.02.2005 The Arc second round
475Jazz Hurricane28.4220.01.2007
475Barnfield On Air28.1504.09.2007
640Paradise Spectre39.5010.1977
640 Ballyregan Bob 39.4028.05.1985 Test heats
640Westmead Move39.3511.10.1986
640Westmead Call39.3006.08.1987
640Waltham Abbey39.1803.08.1989
640Silver Glow39.4131.05.1994
640Spring Rose39.0505.10.1996 Grand Prix Final
640Palace Issue39.0023.11.1999
640Never Can Tell39.4730.04.2005
640Star of Dromin39.4316.06.2005
640Star of Dromin39.2409.07.2005
640Fear Robben39.2116.09.2006
640Spiridon Louis39.1907.08.2008
640Butterbridge Ali39.1616.08.2008
820Todos Liza [26] 51.581981
820Sail On Valerie51.241989
820Clonbrin Basket51.2119.07.1990
820Smart Decision51.5909.07.1994
820Long Island Jim51.5002.11.1995
835Star of Dromin52.6520.08.2005
835Star of Dromin52.4606.04.2006
835Bubbly Kate52.1904.09.2007
840Handy Score52.9515.02.1997
840Redwood Sara52.1207.08.1997
880Yankees Shadow55.9911.10.1986
880Lilac Wonder55.6201.08.1991
880Clonbrin Basket55.3012.10.1991
880Decoy Lnyx55.6508.10.1994
880Star of Dromin55.7815.10.2005
880Ebony Ocean55.5304.09.2007
1045Silver Mask67.3709.06.1987
1045Wheres Dunait68.6105.30.1994
1045Smart Decision68.0012.08.1995
1045Handy Score67.9019.11.1998
1045Betathan Pebbles67.5015.10.2005
475 HThanet Queen28.8930.07.1981
475 HNever A Smile29.7923.02.1991
475 HHerbie Lambug29.7013.04.1991
475 HUnbelievable29.3717.04.1991
475 HDeerpark Jim29.1213.07.1991
475 HHeavenly Dream28.9619.05.1994
475 HGlown Fox28.9206.06.1997
475 HBlue Meadow Lad28.7530.05.2005
640 HFotospur Champ40.1812.10.1991
640 HFreewheel Kylo40.4908.10.1994
640 HHeros Morsel40.4408.03.1997
640 HEl Tenor40.3909.03.1999
640 HFallowfield40.6102.04.2005
640 HKilleen Tom40.3130.04.2005
640 HSizzlers Bossman40.2709.06.2005
640 HSizzlers Bossman39.7809.07.2005

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    Coordinates: 51°36′14″N0°00′57″W / 51.60376°N 0.01595°W / 51.60376; -0.01595