INDEX 26 March 2009
The last days of The Stow
A video about the last days of The Stow, the iconic Walthamstow dog track, is to be screened in the East End Film Festival.

Dogs Gone captures many of the sights and sounds of what has been widely described as the best
greyhound stadium in the world, in glorious sunshine on summer evenings prior to the closure in August 2008.

Video maker Jonathan Brind, a former Waltham Forest Guardian journalist who also chaired Waltham Forest Council’s planning committee in the 1980s, interviewed trainers, cleaners, bookies, greyhound rehomers, punters, security staff and many others, capturing the authentic feel of this greatly missed facility.

The East End Film Festival, which runs from April 23-30, features Dogs Gone in the video advertising the festival and uses an image from it to promote its East End True Life Stories event.

Dogs Gone is to be screened at Cineworld West India Quay, on Wednesday April 29 at 9.15 p.m.

Mr Brind, who lives in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, said: “I am very proud to be part of the festival. Everyone calls The Stow an iconic landmark and it is a tragedy that it has disappeared. Hopefully the publicity generated will encourage people to look at this issue again so that the site is not left to rot.”

Dogs Gone shows the protests of the Save Our Stow campaign, as well as the extraordinary last night, when some of the crowd refused to go home and many clambered on the track.

There should have been 14 races that night but the mechanical hare refused to run for one of the events. So there were only 13. Unlucky for the greyhound industry.

The challenge greyhound racing faces is to attract a new, young audience when there are so many attractions competing for the leisure pound. Strangely, The Stow seemed to have captured the affection of that 20 something crowd, thanks to initiatives like Charlie Chan’s nightclub. But that did not save The Stow from closure.

Last Christmas the site was covered by a huge marquee, capable to holding perhaps 10,000 people. This was erected by the Kingsway International Christian Centre.

Despite the tent, the track remains (it was boarded over rather than being razed). What will happen next, given the state of the economy in general and the housing market in particular, is anyone’s guess.
NOTES TO EDITOR: There was something that made London's East End special for dog racing. There used to be loads of tracks in the area. The Stow, Walthamstow Dogs, was the last but the 75 year old stadium was the best in the world, with a huge fan base. There are several groups on Facebook devoted to it and one has more than 10,000 members... Dog racing seemed as traditional as jellied eels, warm beer, flat caps or fish and chips. The Stow was a lot more than that and even had its own night club, Charlie Chans. So it was a huge shock when the Chandler family, who owned and ran it for the entire 75 years it operated, announced that The Stow was to close. The last meeting was held on August 16, 2008. This video features some of the beautiful sights and unforgettable sounds of the old place. It was made in the months leading up to the closure when huge crowds packed out the place.
26 March 2009INDEX