Kennels at Walthamstow Stadium
Kennels to Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium. 1930s. Concrete construction with steeply pitched red tiled roofs. A splayed linear arrangement sited at the east end of the track.
EXTERIOR: To the centre is the tall tote board, which has a later face, flanked by original tall walls that curve down to the rear. Flanking and in front of this is the lower kennel range comprising individual kennels under pitched roofs. In front is a colonnade on single posts, those to centre with a pair of curved braces, and under corrugated roofs. At the end of each side wing that splays slightly forward, are end pavilions, these with steeply pitched octagonal roofs that kick out at the bottom and have prominent ribs with flashing. The windows in these are late-C20 replacements. The plinth has horizontal fluted detailing. Linking the end pavilions and enclosing the yard in front, is a low concrete wall.
INTERIORS: Not inspected, but the interiors appear to consist only of kennels, which open directly to the open courtyard.
HISTORY: The stadium was first built in 1931, on the site of the former Walthamstow Grange football club, by the Chandler family, who still own the successful enterprise. The complex has had a number of improvements and additions since it first opened, such as rebuilt spectator stands in the years just after construction, new glazed-in stands in 1965, and a new main entrance (to the north side) in 1969, but the notable frontage range (which is listed separately) remains as built in 1931. The kennels were built as part of this first phase. A license was obtained under the Parliamentary Totalisator Betting Act in 1934. The stands were rebuilt in 1934 and again in 1938, the latter being the date of the concrete south stand that survives, albeit altered. A photograph of 1952 for the Coronation shows the front lit up with neon lights in the same design as now, but with additional swags and reading, 'Long live Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II'. The complex underwent considerable updating in the 1980s, its second heyday. This is when the post-modern red tubular detailing was added, and the hospitality suites updated.
Greyhound racing evolved as a sport from the 1920s, out of hare and rabbit coursing, a much older leisure pursuit. It was the invention of an Oklahoma entrepreneur, O.P. Smith who invented the mechanical hare, and the idea came to England in 1925. The Belle Vue Greyhound Stadium in Manchester was the first facility established here, and another followed at White City in London. By 1939, there were 100 tracks in Britain, and London had at least ten. It was a hugely popular activity, and in 1946, attendance numbers rivalled those for football. The number of surviving tracks is much lower, and 56 operate in Britain today.
ASSESSMENT OF IMPORTANCE: These kennels form an integral part of the first phase of construction at Walthamstow Stadium, the best surviving and most architecturally interesting vintage greyhound stadium in the country. The kennels have special interest as purpose-built kennels that feature a mini tote board and eccentric pavilions, altogether in a similar Art Deco-inspired style and materials of the Entrance Range with Tote Board, which is listed separately. The stadium has special historic interest as the best surviving and most celebrated Inter-War greyhound stadium, a nationally loved building type expressive of developments in Inter-War mass culture and entertainment.
The Entrance Range including Tote Board to the west is listed separately.
Historic photographs in the collection of the Vestry House Museum, LB Waltham Forest.
'The Gamble that paid off' in The Walthamstow Guardian, 1st April 1955.
'The Stow is beating slump in dog racing' in Walthamstow Guardian, 21st Nov. 1969.
'Walthamstow Stadium celebrates 50 years of dog racing' in the Walthamstow Guardian. 23rd January 1981.
Genders, R. National Greyhound Racing Club book of Greyhound Racing (Pelham, 1990)
Inglis, S. Played in Manchester: The architectural heritage of a city at play. (English Heritage, 2004.
Cherry, B., O'Brien, C. and Pevsner, N. Buildings of England London 5: East (Yale University Press, 2005)