Going to the Dogs: Walthamstow Stadium remembered
Wednesday 07 October 2009
When the iconic neon lights of Walthamstow Stadium flickered off for the final time last summer, a little bit of Britain's dog racing history disappeared off the map.
For more than 70 years the Chandler family had run the art deco racetrack in north-east London, despite a dwindling audience as punters gradually turned away from dog racing.
Back in its day the "Stow" could pull in 50 million visitors a year. At the time of its closure, "Las Vegas at the end of the Victoria line" could still draw thousands to its Friday and Saturday night races, but taxation changes, spiralling running costs and the extended opening hours of betting shops soon forced the Chandlers to close their beloved stadium.
At least 450 people lost their jobs whilst Walthamstow lost one of the few assets it had to attract visitors from outside the area. The tracks closure also had a profound effect on the capital's dog racing scene. Where once London boasted 33 greyhound tracks, Wimbledon is now the only race venue still operating in the capital.
Local photographer Katherine Green documented the final days of Walthamstow as its closure loomed ever closer. "I grew up in Walthamstow and my school backed onto the dog racing track so it was always in the background of my childhood," she said. "I'd always wanted to photograph it but for some reason kept away – there was part of me that almost thought I wouldn't be welcomed."
"When it was announced that the track was going to be shut down I knew I had to give them a ring and they gave me instant access."
A new exhibition of her photos titled "Going to the Dogs" is currently showing at Vestry House Museum, London, until 27 November.
"There's a great mixture of people turning up to the exhibition," she says. "Some are born and bred dog racing lovers, others are photography enthusiasts. Others just want to come along and have a look at a bit of our history."
'Going to the Dogs' is open Wednesday to Sunday 10am-5pm until 27 November. For more information, visit katherinegreen.co.uk
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