London (Hendon) Greyhound Track
Although the stadium at Hendon did not open to greyhound racing until 1935 the actual area of Hendon had special links to the sport long before. On the 6th March 1876 the first attempt at mechanical racing took place on a 400 yards long course near the Welsh Harp in the London suburb of Hendon. This was fourteen years before the patent for circular tracks had been taken out and no less than fifty years before the first race at Belle Vue.
During 1934 an attempt to start racing greyhounds around the Hendon Cricket ground failed after the owners of the ground, the Wearmouth Coal Company Ltd rejected the proposal. However a suitable venue was soon found on spare land squeezed between the River Brent and North Circular Road directly east of the Midland main railway line.
The opening meeting was on 5th March 1935 and the stadium consisted of effectively one main grandstand building along the home straight. Despite only being small in size there was room for 6,000 spectators and business was prosperous for Hendon Stadium Ltd with totalisator turnover figures reaching up to £2 million.
The circumference of the track was a small 398 yards grass course with sharp bends. The hare system used was an ‘Outside Sumner’ and the main events in the early years of existence were the Calcutta Cup and Welsh Harp Cup. After the war Hendon and Hackney Wick merged to become the Hackney and Hendon Greyhounds Ltd Company. The resident kennels featured six ranges with each able to house up to fifty greyhounds; this resulted in ample facilities to serve both Hendon and Hackney. Paddocks sat next to each range and with modern cooking facilities and veterinary attention the kennel fees were 17s 6d for each greyhound.
In the early fifties Mr D G Lewis became the Racing Manager followed by Fred Whitehead becoming the Director of Racing for Hendon and Hackney. Lewis would switch to sister track Hackney with Michael Marks brought in to replace him. The pair would once again swap places in the sixties with Lewis returning to Hendon.
Hendon had little success on the open race circuit with the attached trainers being kept busy supplying runners for graded events for both Hackney and Hendon. Racing had settled down to two evenings a week (Monday and Saturday at 7.45pm) and amenities included a restaurant and five additional buffet and licensed bars.
In the sixties the principal events were called the North Circular Marathon, Burletta Stakes and L.V. Chairman’s Cup but these were soon overshadowed after Hendon was awarded the Guineas following the closure of Park Royal in 1969. With the end of Park Royal and New Cross their BAGS service fixtures were replaced by Hendon and Hackney.
Attached trainers in the sixties supplying the BAGS runners included Annetts, Reg Bosley, Colebrooke, Paddy Gordon, Hedley and Lionel Maxen, the same group of trainers that supplied the Hackney greyhounds.
Disaster struck in 1970 when businessman George Walker brother of boxing champion Billy Walker arranged a reverse takeover of Hackney and Hendon Greyhounds Stadium Ltd. This meant his private company bought a public company and the new merger resulted in a new company called Brent Walker. This was devastating for Hendon because one of actions that Walker had planned was the sale of the lucrative land where Hendon sat.
Bizarrely the stadium capacity underwent changes and was enlarged despite plans for the sale. Brent Walker duly sold the site as part of the UK’s first stand-alone shopping centre known as the Brent Cross shopping centre. The stadium finally closed on 30th June 1972, it was demolished with some of the land forming the new links to the M1 motorway and the rest being used as parking spaces for the previously mentioned shopping centre (0° 13′ 46.806″W 51° 34′ 22.487″N).