Page last updated at 04:53 GMT, Sunday, 17 August 2008 05:53 UK

Dog track hosts last planned race

Dogs are led out on Saturday night
Dogs are led out on the final night of racing at Walthamstow

Campaigners are still hoping for a reprieve for Walthamstow stadium, which hosted its last planned greyhound race on Saturday.

Supporters took a 15,000-strong petition against the closure to Walthamstow Town Hall, east London.

After 75 years of racing its owners sold the venue to housing developers.

New owner London and Quadrant Housing Trust said: "At the moment our intention is to continue with the development as planned."

The stadium was first opened in 1933 by William Chandler, who started out operating as an illegal street bookmaker.

In addition to its regular fans, it has hosted public figures such as Sir Winston Churchill and actors Lana Turner, Vinnie Jones and Brad Pitt.

But Mr Chandler's grandson Charles said operations had become "unsustainable".

Walthamstow Stadium campaigners
We need new housing, we need affordable housing, but at the end of the day we need other things as well
Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard

Attendances were down and the advent of high street and internet gambling meant people no longer placed bets in such great numbers with the bookies, tic-tacs and totes on its trackside pitches.

The stadium is understood to have been sold for between 20m and 30m.

A consortium has offered 1m on top of that figure to retain greyhound racing at the site, but the housing trust has already withdrawn the option of leasing the stadium.

Walthamstow MP Neil Gerrard said: "We need new housing, we need affordable housing, but at the end of the day we need other things as well."

He added: "The ideal outcome would be for the consortium to be able to buy the stadium back, keep on developing it and develop some different leisure uses there as well."

The housing trust takes ownership of the land on 1 September.


SEE ALSO
Final punt for famous dog track
15 Aug 08 |  London
In pictures: Walthamstow Stadium
15 Aug 08 |  In Pictures

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