Herne Hill Velodrome Grand Reopening
The track has been in a state of disrepair for some time, but thanks to a long-term agreement reached earlier this year between the landowners, The Dulwich Estate, and British Cycling, investment could be made in bringing the track up-to-date.
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."
The £500,000 project was funded by British Cycling through its Sport England investment and from a financial bequest left to British Cycling for use ‘in the pursuit of track cycling' by London resident and life-long supporter of the Herne Hill Velodrome, Leonard Lyes. Work began in July and has seen the track re-surfaced with a special velodrome-specific covering called ‘MasterTrack', developed in conjunction with Tarmac, as well as a new outer Safety Fence and Safety Zone run-off area inside the track.
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.
Wiggins said: "I have such fond memories of Herne Hill which played an important role in my development as a rider. I remember the buzz I got from racing there when I was younger and that really gave me the bug for the sport. It's fantastic to see Herne Hill benefiting from this investment - it's such an iconic facility not just for the local area but for the whole British cycling scene. I hope the new track means more young people head down to Herne Hill to learn the ropes, develop their skills and, who knows, start their journey towards Olympic success."
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 grand reopening at the track takes place this Sunday 11th with the Dave Creasy Memorial Meeting which starts at 11am.
Why not make a whole day of it this Sunday 11th? The Free Film Festival will be at Herne Hill Velodrome showing 'Breaking Away'. It's a free bicycle-powered cinema and the show begins at 8.30pm with a chance to ride around the newly laid Velodrome track on your bicycle between 6.45pm - 8pm.
Meanwhile, the fundraising efforts of the Save the Velodrome Campaign provides further optimism that the resurfacing marks the start of wide-ranging improvements at the facility as a whole. Herne Hill Velodrome Trust have received in excess of £15,000 in donations so far. Thank you to all who have kindly donated. If you'd like to donate please find further information and their campaign video here.