London - Hare & Hounds Leyton
282 Lea Bridge Road : E10 7LD
London - Hare & Hounds  Leyton : Map credit National Library of Scotland London - Hare & Hounds  Leyton : Image credit Vince Taylor The Hare and Hounds public house dates from 1861 and there was a field next to the pub that was used for sports, mainly running and pedestrianism. In June 1885, the Hare and Hounds was advertising their grass, 382 yards track, to be used for sports meetings. From 1890, there were bicycle races on the grass track, but these were nearly always part a very small part of an athletics meeting.

The first bicycle race at the Hare and Hounds was on April 12th 1890, when the Aldenham Institute Harriers held their sports meeting and included one and three miles bicycle handicap races. There were a lot of sports meetings at the ground for the next five years, but not many bicycle races.

Cycling on May 2nd 1896 reported "The new track which is being laid alongside the Hare and Hounds in the Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, will be completed next week. It measures six laps to the mile, is surfaced with cement, is well banked, and is from 18 to 22 feet wide." There were further reports that there were three tracks at the ground, an inner one of cinder, the middle of grass and the outer was "a cemented cycle track, well banked up."

It seems very unusual that a small, rather unimportant sports ground should have a banked cement track, and this merits further investigation. The summer of 1896 saw a number of bicycle races at the Hare and Hounds.

On Good Friday, Clark's Jolly Fellows Sports were held and it was reported that "The greater number of the events were open to the customers of Mr W Clark's coffee and dining rooms in various parts of London." The sports included a two miles bicycle handicap race for members of the Forest Artisan Cycling Club and the event attracted a crowd of 3,000 holiday makers.

There were quite a lot of sports meetings at the Hare and Hounds in the summer of 1896, but very few with bicycle races, those events that did include bicycle races include the South Essex Athletic and Cycling Club meeting and The Good Intent (Hospital) Aid Society summer fete.

On Mondays 7th and 14th September 1896, there were meetings of the Tom Connors Licensed Victuallers, at which the cream of UK women's bicycle racing competed in a 2 miles ladies handicap and a 5 miles ladies scratch race*. The men's events were a 2 miles handicap and 5 and 10 miles scratch races.

After this encouraging start, bicycle racing at the Hare and Hounds stopped suddenly at the end of 1896 and the last bicycle race held there was probably on October 17th 1896 at the Barclay and Fry's (printers) athletic meeting which included a two miles bicycle handicap race.

Football was played at the Hare and Hounds ground from 1901 by Leyton FC and after over a hundred years of troubled existence, Leyton FC finally ceased to exist in 2011 following financial problems within the club. The Hare and Hounds ground still exists as a football ground, but it is currently derelict. The Hare and Hounds pub still exists as a popular local establishment.

* Rosa Blackburn, Miss Jamieson, Mlle Gavette, Miss Anderson, who raced in the Hare and Hounds meeting, had all competed at London six day races in the 1890s. (See reference [k]). Miss Blackburn rode at the Aquarium. (See reference [583]).

Refs     : [581] [582] [p]
Photos : Vince Taylor
Maps    : National Library of Scotland