The Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, has re-opened Herne Hill Velodrome this morning, which after years of neglected has now been revived thanks to efforts of locals and British Cycling.
As the last surviving venue from the 1948 Olympics, the velodrome looked set for closure and demolition, but thanks to intervention and investment a ‘state of the art’ resurfacing and redevelopment of the Dulwich Estate site has now taken place.
Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics, said: “It is fitting that the year before London 2012 we are able to celebrate the refurbishment of the track at one of the key venues from the 1948 Games. As the popularity of cycling continues to grow, it is vital that people are provided with the facilities and opportunities to ride their bikes, be they young people starting out, serious racers, or others simply cycling to keep fit. Thanks to the new track that has been laid Herne Hill now takes its place as one of the country’s leading cycling facilities.”
Costing around £500,000, the project drew on funds from British Cycling through its Sport England investment and from a financial bequest left by the late Leonard Lyes – a life-long supporter of the Velodrome. Work began in July and the track’s revival was completed earlier this week.
Leading a ceremonial first lap at the track today was Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman MBE, who was accompanied by Brian Cookson and riders from the local area.
The project was planned and overseen by British Cycling’s National Facilities Manager Dave Cockram, and Facilities Officer Patrick Flanagan.
British Cycling President, Brian Cookson, said: “It’s fantastic to be here today and see the first of what we hope will be a number of improvements resulting directly from the new agreement between British Cycling and The Dulwich Estate. Getting a longer-term lease in place was essential in terms of our ability to invest in the new track and make best use of the generous donation from Leonard Lyes. I’m sure he’ll be looking down today with a smile on his face – we know Herne Hill was close to his heart and this new track will mean it can continue to bring the joy and excitement of cycling to the whole community for many years to come."
Herne Hill is home to the historic Good Friday Meeting – one of the most distinctive and atmospheric events in the cycling calendar. It is also the track on which triple Olympic Champion Bradley Wiggins first started racing at the age of 12.
The first major meet at the track since the track was re-laid takes place this Sunday with the Dave Creasy Memorial Meeting, kicking off at 11am.