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passed from the London County Athletics Ground through various hands
including the RAF during the early part of the second World War, where it
was used as a barrage balloon base and left in very poor condition. The NCU
took it on in 1942 but some considerable work was needed to restore it,
however this was completed in time for the 1948 Olympics. The Greater
London Council took it on in the 1960s and for many years it ran as a venue
for school sports track cycling for the ILEA.

The Pavilion, however, was never really modernised. The 1991 track rebuild was
supposed to have been followed by a pavilion rebuild and an interesting track
lighting scheme, but unfortunately this coincided with the demise of the GLC
and ILEA and the site was passed to Southwark Council. With the best will
in the world, a regional cycling centre was not the highest priority of an inner
London borough council, and while I don’t think they actually wanted it to
close, there wasn’t a great deal in the way of investment. After all, it certainly
wasn’t a thriving business, and it was more of benefit to the regional cycling
community than to the population of Southwark.

In 2000, I started negotiations to build an off-road track on the land at the
back of the site, to start a youth section of De Laune, with three other De
Laune members at the time. Just as this was coming to fruition, the track
manager handed his notice in, and I applied for the job. To be fair there wasn’t
a great deal of competition for it – at the time I started work there, there
were just seven months remaining on the GLC’s original lease. I remember
talking to one of the regular coaches, Colin Denman, and saying to him “You
know what this place needs?” Quick as a flash, he replied “Oh yes, I know what
this place needs, and I’ve got the matches to light it with an’ all!” Such
drastic action wasn’t exactly what I had had in mind – however I soon saw
that he was right.

I was able to build the number of users on the site quite dramatically while I
worked there, but it was always a constant battle to keep the place running.
I put in purchase orders for cleaning materials, light bulbs and toilet rolls,
but they weren’t signed off for weeks sometimes, until toilets were in the
dark and I had to swap bulbs around the building. One spring the season

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