Gone to the dogs, obviously

Walthamstow dog track, by flickr person Cheeky_Monkey2007

So the news tells me they’re closing down Walthamstow dogs, and as I concentrate a bit harder I realise that Dusty7s told me yesterday and Londonist told me today. The move will be supported by some; it’ll also be bewailed by a legion of fans, attracted by the glitzy pink and green of its infamous neon, the waft of camel-coat smell, the aroma of hundreds of people losing ten pences.

I’m no supporter of greyhound racing: the humane aspect of it is bad enough, but I don’t like gambling a bit – it seems a sweeping, oversimplified thing to say that betting preys on the poor, but like chicken shops, in London the argument seems to be backed up by evidence.

Let it be said that impoverished folk enjoy fried chicken

I marvel constantly at the preponderance of betting shops, even on my local street I can walk past a betfair, William Hill and Ladbrokes, with betfred et al not far off. I don’t understand how they can sustain their trade, but they do. Apparently, it’s these convenience-gambling stores, along with the world wide interweb that are killing off the likes of Walthamstow Dogs.

So I don’t support the dogtrack itself in any way, but if the building goes, I’ll miss it. It’s an iconic structure, opened in 1933 and still owned by the same family. As I go on mammoth charity shop runs to Epping, I pass this before getting to Chingford and it’s an epic thing to see in this otherwise unspectacular, northern expanse of E17. I very much hope that the facade is saved, the red and white art deco facade and the air of faded glory, but the likelihood is – since the track has been sold to property developers – it’ll either be gobbled up in a swathe of identikit, Barrat-esque homes or a big fat retail park with a Dixons, a Comet, an Allied Carpets and a whole bunch of other shops that can be found up and down the country.

Sad day for architecture, East End nostalgics, film trivia buffs, then, happier day for anti-gambling campaigners and animal rights enthusiasts. Mixed emotions for me.


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