If a National Dog Racing Museum is to be opened in the UK, then we really need to act quickly! with so many private collections of greyhound memorabilia going to waste and numerous old trophies and salvers being melted down purely for scrap value, then we can all see that time's running out for racing historians and fans!
I believe that the best location for a Greyhound Racing Museum would be in London and therefore the previous decision to close Wimbledon Dog Stadium on the 25th March 2017 was extremely detrimental to our cause and yet another 'golden opportunity' to open a greyhound museum in London sadly missed!
This Museum should be built and housed inside a new state-of-the-art "Super-Track" which looking forward would ensure a secure future for British Greyhound Racing. Surely that's not too much to ask for our Sport?
As all 'Predictors' will know, it is only by studying the past can we visualise the future! Therefore, if we cast an eye back to the beginnings, we see that the first dog tracks in England opened in the mid to late 1920's. The famous White City Stadium, London we learn was reconstructed from the stadium originally built for the 1908 Olympic Games! We also see that in order to remain financially viable many tracks shared facilities with other sports such as athletics, cricket, cycling, football, horse and motor racing, rugby, show jumping, speedway etc.
I therefore urge, all concerned parties to please reconsider their plans for Wimbledon Stadium as there might still be a chance to "Save Our Stadium". If this means sharing facilities with AFC Wimbledon Football Club then so be it, surely this is a better solution for everyone! In the past, many football grounds held races very successfully, although old stadiums like Wembley were far too big and never specifically designed for modern-day dog racing! British architects and designers of Sports Stadiums should have produced and submitted new-plans to incorperate both sports in the same stadium. What is required is a world class circuit around 450 metres in circumference, 5 - 8 metres wide with heavily banked bends and ideal viewing facilities, would be a good starting point of conversation and agree that the new Derby distance of 500 metres is a good improvement for the sport!
Many thanks must go to everybody who attended and supported the "Show of Passion" held at City Hall 17/02/14 in their efforts to retain racing at Wimbledon and furthermore, I pledge my own support to Paschal Taggart in his bid to transform the stadium and keep dog racing alive in London! Special praise must go to Diane McLean the main organiser of the WWW - WE WANT WIMBLEDON campaign, as the "1928 Night of Passion" was later held at 'Plough Lane' 20/05/14 in recognition of the 86 years the track had been operating. Another big thank you goes to Paddy Ryan the former boss of Shelbourne Park who organised the follow up gathering "Show of Passion 2" held in Dublin on the eve of the 2014 Irish Derby final.
Towcester "gets another chance" as Henlow promoter Kevin Boothby re-opens the former home of the English Greyhound Derby 14/06/20.
Peterborough opened in 1945 by the Parker family becomes the latest closure due to Coronavirus and on-going economic situation 19/05/20.
Longford first opened in 1939 becomes the latest Irish track to close due to current economic conditions and outbreak of COVID-19 23/03/20.
Swindon after completion of new-circuit layout 14/08/19 Swindon Council approves building of new grandstand if proven viable 15/01/20.
Lifford following the Indecon Report the track is closed and put up for sale after IGB lifeline extension comes to an end October 2019.
Romford "London Road" redevelopment work is completed with track flipped over to other-side and new grandstand officially opened 06/09/19.
Drumbo Park Good News! as the Lisburn, County Antrim home of the Northern Irish Derby re-opens under new management 13/07/19.
Towcester Shocking News! as the home of the English Derby venue suddenly goes into administration and is closed forthwith 16/08/18.
Romford Great News! as Ladbrokes Coral announces plans to redevelop the track and modernise old Millennium Grandstand 09/03/18.
Derry "Brandywell Grounds" in Northern Ireland completes its stadium redevelopment project and is officially opened on the 22/02/18.
Mildenhall first opened by Dick Partridge in 1991 is forced to close with immediate effect due to financial reasons 15/01/18.
Hall Green, Birmingham, operating for nearly 90 years and once considered "the finest track in the Midlands" finally shuts its doors as Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) sadly announces sudden closure due to on-going financial circumstances, with the last ever meeting held 29/07/17.
Harold's Cross Shock News! as Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) informs it's Dublin 'sister-track' it will be sold-off and closed 13/02/17.
Coventry Stadium "Brandon" which had previously re-opened as an Independent Track is forced to shut it's doors again on the 16/01/16.
Towcester becomes the first new circuit to be built in the United Kingdom for 19 years, and staged its opening meeting on the 13/12/14.
Oxford Stadium "Sandy Lane" operating since 1939 ceased trading and joins the endless list of track closures in the last few years, 29/12/12.
Portsmouth Stadium "Target Road" which originally opened in 1930 and regularly featured five dog races held its last race on the 27/03/10.
Walthamstow Stadium "The Stow" first opened in 1933 by William Chandler and run ever since by the Chandler family sadly closed the doors 16/08/08. The shutting down of this iconic stadium was described quite rightly in the 'Racing Post' as another nail in the coffin for UK dog racing.
Out of an original 33 dog tracks in London - including 'flapping tracks' at Batersea, Brixton, Crooked Billet, Dagenham (Old), Edmonton, Greenford, Harlington Corner, Mitcham, Perry Hills, Sidcup, Southall, Stratford (Temple Mills), Welling and the 'straights' at Edgeware, Feltham and Hounsfield, plus the NGRC / GBGB Licensed tracks - Catford, Charlton, Clapton, Dagenham (New), Hackney, Harringay, Hendon, New Cross, Park Royal, Slough, Stamford Bridge, Wandsworth, Walthamstow, Watford, Wembley, West Ham, White City and Wimbledon are all now closed!
Since learning of the horrendous revelations concerning the 'Seaham Scandal' and the unlawful killing of innocent greyhounds, described in one BBC report as an 'open secret' running throughout our sport, I can confirm my own belief that a racing museum should be set up forthwith, with all future profits given back to the benefit of the greyhounds themselves in the form of welfare and rehoming of retired ex-racing dogs.
As a collector of memorabilia, I remain in full support of the Greyhound Racing Historical Society in their ultimate aim to create a modern greyhound museum based here in the United Kingdom. Prominent greyhound historians have formed this society to build a further foundation on which to promote and perpetuate the memory of famous coursing and track racing greyhounds of English and Irish descent.
Our desire is for all generations to actively participate and benefit from our own extensive research into the history of our sport, in the safe knowledge that many previously uncatologued collections could be housed under one roof as a permanent home and showpiece for everyone to enjoy. Many original artifacts and photographs were donated by owners and enthusiasts who have since passed away. This leaves my colleagues and I with a great moral responsibility to fulfil their wishes and unselfish desire to establish a lasting monument to the famous greyhounds and people associated with them.
Our objective is to show exhibits including films of old classic races, paintings, sculptures, various literature, old dog racecards, newspapers comprising from now defunct publications, famous photographs of greyhounds, owners, trainers, kennel staff, photo finishes, cigarette and postcards, NGRC / GBGB calendars etc. in the aim of creating an unparalelled greyhound racing libary, the facilities of which we hope to make available to all who wish to use it. The tangents are enumerable, to include the famous history of greyhound coursing and racing and the transition from course to track.
The opening and participation in this museum would not only show people's interest in the world of greyhound racing, but would allow them the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the sport and breed by meeting people who also shared their enthusiasm. The Society it is hoped in time would invite gallery talks by famous trainers, veterinary surgeons etc. and to hold special exhibition previews for Museum members, to which all would be invited.
This proud tradition of our English and Irish heritage is too valuable to defer any longer and we really do have a strong moral obligation to recognise the achievements of our late friends and animals! (extracts taken and adapted by kind permision from the late Chairman's address.)
If you would like more information on the Greyhound Museum Project please contact me.