Herne Hill Velodrome
The Herne Hill Velodrome is a velodrome or track cycling venue in south London. It is one of the oldest cycling tracks in the world, having been built in 1891. It hosted the track cycling events in the 1948 Summer Olympics and was briefly the home of Crystal Palace F.C. in World War I. Between 1987, when the track at Paddington Recreation Ground was demolished, and 2011, when the London Velopark for the 2012 Summer Olympics opened, Herne Hill was the only track in London.

History
Herne Hill was originally named the London County Grounds,. The velodrome is named after the locality, being situated just off Burbage Road, in Herne Hill, part of the London Borough of Southwark. It was founded by George Hillier, an amateur racer, in 1891. From 1903 it was the venue for the Good Friday meeting (see External links below for Good Friday (film) by Maz Lewis) organised by the Southern Counties Cycle Union. World champions have performed at Good Friday meetings, which during the 1920s and 1930s attracted attendances of 10,000. National and world records have been established there ”“ Norwood Paragon's Frank Southall was a notable record-breaker in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In 1936 the tandem pairing from Addiscombe C.C. - Ernie Mills and Bill Paul set a 'world best' of 30-miles 793 yards, unpaced in one hour, although no tandem figures were recognised by the governing body at that time. The track was owned before the second world war by Alleyns College of God's Gift, in Dulwich. The National Cyclists Union leased it for 21 years from 25 March 1942. It had been damaged during the war when the site was used for a gun battery. The organising committee of the 1948 Olympic Games chose it as "the only suitable" track. It said "considerable work would have to be carried out to bring the arena, both from a competition and a spectator point of view, up to the required standard for Olympic events." The track was repaired, permanent stands were built - the only permanent construction work carried out by the Games organisers - and the approach roads and turnstiles were improved and extended. A temporary stand was built in the back straight for journalists, who had 12 telephone boxes to report to the world. A small scoreboard was also put up, which the crowd "fully appreciated." The National Cyclists' Union opened what became known as a professional circus there in May 1952, under the track's manager, John Dennis. The plan was to bring crowds to the track, making it profitable, and to establish professional racing in Britain. Among those who took professional licenses was a prominent road rider, Dave Bedwell The track had meetings featuring star internationals such as Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi, Reg Harris and Tom Simpson during the 1950s and 1960s. The future of the track then became less certain. A campaign was fought to retain it during the early 2000s following a dispute between the landlord, Dulwich Estate, and the leaseholder, Southwark Council. A feature, said the journalist Richard Williams, was "a lease long enough to make it worthwhile to undertake the necessary refurbishment of the grandstand, which is closed for safety reasons, and the 450”‘metre track itself." Bill Wright of British Cycling, formed by the merger of the National Cyclists Union with the British League of Racing Cyclists in the 1950s, said: "The problem is that the venue is underfunded and deteriorating, and desperately in need of refurbishment but cannot get the investment it needs unless landlords Dulwich Estate renew their lease, something Dulwich Estate is reluctant to do. The estate, which also owns the land of some of the area’s prestigious private schools such as Dulwich College and Alleyns, is legally required to get the best return on its investment for benefactors. However, it also has a commitment to community upkeep. A supporter of the campaign was Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins, who started racing at Herne Hill when he was 12. Herne Hill hosts regular training for local riders. Supporters see the velodrome playing a role in supporting track cyclists from the London area in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

Construction
Unlike a modern Olympic velodrome (which will have an inner circumference of 250m, and banking of about 45°), Herne Hill is a shallow concrete bowl measuring approximately 450m with the steepest banking 30°. The grandstand which still stands on the site (albeit now boarded up) is the original one dating from 1891. In the 1890s there was a cinder athletics track inside the cycle track, and tennis courts within that. The tennis courts later became the site of a football/rugby pitch, but the track centre is now only used for cyclo-cross races.

Football use
The Velodrome was home of Crystal Palace F.C. from 1914 until 1918, when the club then moved to The Nest opposite Selhurst Station. Crystal Palace were forced by the Admiralty to leave Crystal Palace Football Stadium and move to the Velodrome due to the Crystal Palace being commandeered for World War I training purposes. Typically Crystal Palace FC drew crowds of 3,000 ”“ 4,000. The FA Amateur Cup final in 1911, between Bromley and Bishop Auckland, was also played at Herne Hill as well as the Surrey Senior Cup finals in 1906 and 1909.