It might look like a typical grey and blustery March morning in the capital but the sight of cyclists whirring their way around this 450m loop of asphalt in South London is still something special to be savoured.
Tomorrow, March 30, the brand new pavilion at Herne Hill Velodrome will officially be opened, bringing to a close a restoration project that has lasted over 12 years and saved this historic venue from the risk of closure.
The original pavilion, from which six of these cast iron pillars have been taken, restored and re-used in the new building, was built in the 1890s when the track was first laid down.
Following the 1948 Olympic Games, the venue played host to the likes of Tom Simpson, Reg Harris, Fausto Coppi and Alberto Contador. It helped nourish the young careers of Bradley Wiggins and Laura Kenny, two of Britain’s most decorated athletes.
Declining fortunes in the 1990s and 2000s saw the neglected old grandstand close and the lease on the venue expire.
However the efforts of the local club, VC Londres, and the local community of cyclists saved the venue from obscurity, helping to negotiate a longer term lease and paving the way for renovations including a new track surface, new floodlights and a multi-use area in the track centre.
£750,000 of National Lottery funding went into the new grandstand, which is sponsored by Exodus Travels and houses changing rooms, offices, club rooms and a kitchen.
Use of the track has doubled since 2012, attracting a new wave of riders. One of them is Rouleur contributor Ned Boulting, who you may be able to spot enjoying a midweek spin.
“It has been a long journey, but I am immensely proud of how the community came together, matched by the generosity of our funders, the project team and the local residents,” said Hillary Peachey, chair of the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust.
“The professionalism of my trustees, and dedication of the volunteers and track users, will keep Herne Hill Velodrome a sustainable venue well into the next century.”
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