The Herne Hill Velodrome is a velodrome or track cycling venue in Herne Hill, 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 Football Club during 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.
Structures and Facilities:
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.
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.