Shopping and Racing

Head to the Southside Shopping Centre (previously the Arndale Centre) at 8:15 on a Tuesday evening, and you'll find some shoppers buying in their dinner; some cinema-goers wandering up the escalators. In 1933, however, the site was home to the Wandsworth Stadium, a greyhound racing stadium seating an astonishing 20,000 people.

Greyhound races were held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:15 in the evening. Gamblers came from all over the city; but for locals, it was just part of the landscape.

Sylvia Webb remembers evenings when she was too young to be allowed in; but the stadium backed onto King George's Park, so she would sit on the grass and listen. The noise of the race and the shouting was phenomenal - and so was the swearing. The oddest part, though, was the sudden silence as a race ended.

The last dog race was held in June 1966.

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Picture by Matthew Robins
Story sources: interview by Caroline Ayerst with Sylvia Webb, member of Wandsworth's Parkinson's Group; Wandsworth Borough News 31/07/1931; Dorian Gerhold, 1998: Wandsworth Past.