According to the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, dog racing is the sixth most popular spectator sport in the UK.
And if that is true it begs the question… where have all the greyhound tracks in the UK gone?
From its pomp in the 1940s, when 70 million people would frequent their local greyhound track per year, today just 19 venues remain on UK soil.
Changes in tastes, the ability to stream greyhound races online and a general apathy to the sport seem to be the main causes of the decline, as well as the fact that many dog tracks were found in prime locations – its always difficult to turn down a property developer that offers millions for your land.
So it’s sad but true: the number of greyhound tracks in the UK is the lowest it has been for the best part of a century. Instead of being miserable about that though, let’s look back fondly on some of the best known tracks and their history.
Where are the Remaining UK Greyhound Tracks?
As mentioned, there are just 19 tracks remaining in the UK that are registered with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain.
These can, largely, be categorised by geography:
London & The South
- Romford Stadium, London
- Crayford Stadium, London
- Harlow Stadium, Essex
- Brighton and Hove Stadium, Brighton
- Central Park Stadium, Sittingbourne
- Swindon Stadium, Swindon
- Perry Barr Stadium, Birmingham
- Monmore Green Stadium, Wolverhampton
- Nottingham Stadium, Nottingham
- Towcester Stadium, Towcester
- Henlow Stadium, Stondon
- Doncaster Stadium, Doncaster
- Kinsley Stadium, Kinsley
- Owlerton Stadium, Sheffield
- Yarmouth Stadium, Great Yarmouth
- Newcastle Stadium, Newcastle
- Pelaw Grange, Chester-le-Street
- Sunderland Stadium, Sunderland
- Shawfield Stadium, Shawfield
It should also said that there are three independent dog tracks that exist beyond the controls of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain: the Askern Stadium in Doncaster, the Thornton Stadium in Scotland and the Valley Stadium in the town of Ystrad Mynach in Wales.
Due to being unlicensed, these are known as ‘flapping tracks’.
How Many Greyhound Tracks Were There?
By even the most conservative of estimates, it’s believed that in excess of 200 greyhound tracks have closed in the past century.
The epicentre of those is in London (more on that shortly), but in truth few parts of England and the UK as a whole have escaped unscathed.
The Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester was one of northern England’s premier dog tracks. It opened its doors for the first time in 1926, hosting popular greyhound meetings ever since. Sadly, the track was sold to a property development firm in 2019, and that was the end of racing at the iconic venue.
Tourists would lap up greyhound racing at coastal tracks such as Blackpool and Skegness, and you can name any major town or city in England and you can almost guarantee at one time or another they had a dog track – Leeds, Derby, Leicester, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Gloucester and so on.
Even Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have felt the loss, with Swansea Stadium – now leased by a waste recycling firm – and the mammoth Celtic Park in Belfast just two of the biggest tracks to go.
What Happened to the Greyhound Tracks in London?
If you are willing to travel, you can still catch greyhound racing in London.
But in the twentieth century, it’s almost a certainty that a Londoner would have had a greyhound stadium within a stone’s throw of their home.
White City Stadium was one of the most famous to fall. This could seat 93,000 spectators, and as well as hosting World Cup football and the Olympics was the home of the Greyhound Derby for the best part of 60 years. It was demolished in 1985 to make way for the White City Place development, which was a former home of the BBC.
Harringay Stadium is another monument to greyhound racing in the capital – after 60 years, that land was sold to make way for houses and a Sainsbury’s store, and a similar fate has befallen the likes of Catford Stadium, Hyde Park, Dagenham and Hackney Wick, which would become the temporary home of the UK Media Centre for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Wimbledon Stadium opened its doors in 1928 and continued to race throughout the Second World War, before falling to an enemy that not even the armed forces could defeat – the ever onward-marching property development companies.
And, finally, who can forget Walthamstow Stadium, which was arguably the finest in the land in the 1980s and believed to be the origin of the phrase ‘gone to the dogs’. Sadly, Walthamstow did go the way of the dogs in 2008 – 75 years after opening for the first time.