London - Marble Rink and Athletic Grounds

143 Clapham Road : SW9 0HP London - Marble Rink and Athletic Grounds : Map credit National Library of Scotland London - Marble Rink and Athletic Grounds : Image credit Lambeth Landmark
The ‘Marble Rink' was opened by Mr Arthur T Timewell for outdoor roller skating on September 30th 1876. The rink area was eighteen thousand square feet, paved with marble slabs, rather than the more usual asphalt surface. The rink was in the grounds of Mr Timewell's house and cost him £8,000. The craze of ‘rinkomania' or roller skating had gone somewhat out of fashion at this time and it was publicly commented that the enterprise was unlikely to be profitable.

By 1880, the Marble Rink had become a member's club, with cards, billiards, dining and dressing rooms. The interest in roller skating had ceased and the club turned to promoting running and cycling events. The club set up an athletic ground with a floodlit cinder track, 220 yards around, for bicycle racing and running. The Sporting Life of March 6th 1880 announced "The public opening of the Marble Club Grounds (The Marble Rink, Clapham Road) will take place on Easter Monday when bicycle and tricycle races will be held."

At the opening meeting there was a 100 miles bicycle race on the cinder track between the champion rider David Stanton, Bradley Keen and E Fryer. Stanton was the only rider to complete the distance, which he managed in 6 hours 34 minutes.

The club held a five miles members handicap race and a two miles open handicap on May 30th 1880, but attendance at the event was disappointing.

On June 10th 1880, a new club called the Crusaders Bicycle Club was formed at the Marble Club, with an annual subscription of one guinea. Members had full use of the Marble Club facilities.

The Crusaders BC held a race meeting at the Club on August 21st 1880, at which there was a five miles club handicap race won R Vazie-Simons on a 53 inch wheel. The other competitor's wheel sizes were between 50 and 57 inches diameter. There was also a two miles open handicap event, which attracted twenty entries and was won by W Duffy of the Beaumont, off 130 yards in 7 min 3 sec.

On January 22nd 1881 there was a match race over fifty miles, between John Keen of Surbiton and David Stanton of Horsley Wood, for £25 a side. Keen won when Stanton gave up at 30 miles. This was probably the last bicycle racing at the Marble Club. There were a few more pedestrian contests there in 1881, but after that all sporting activity seemed to stop.

There was an advertisement in the May 1881 Wheel World for offering Marble Club membership at a cost one guinea per annum and members had exclusive use of the club facilities. The membership drive must not have been successful as the club seemed to be defunct by the end of 1881.

In 1903 the site was acquired by Sir Joseph Causton who built a print works there, which became known as the Printworks. In 1937 the building was acquired by Freeman's mail order catalogue company. The original Printworks building still exists and has been re-developed as housing and business units.

London - Marble Rink and Athletic Grounds : Image credit Lambeth Landmark
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Photos : Lambeth Landmark
Maps    : National Library of Scotland