It’s been a long wait – over a decade – but the long-suffering riders at the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit in West London have finally got a clubhouse to be proud of.
The £715,000 timber-clad building was officially opened by the Mayor of Hillingdon, Councillor David Yarrow yesterday morning, to applause from riders – lured from their training on the 0.93-mile circuit by the offer of free cakes, coffee – and officials.
It’s state-of-the-art – Dyson Dryers in the toilets.
But most important of all, they have now a decent place to display the portrait of their inspirational hero, triple Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins who raced here as a schoolboy.
“This – the name’s quite a mouthful – this Hillingdon-cycle-circuit-clubhouse-in-the-Minet-Country-Park”… said the Mayor after due pause to study his notes…”is another example of the council’s continuing commitment to develop the sporting and recreational facilities available to our residents.”
“The clubhouse has been developed over the last 10 to 12 months and I would like to thank all parties involved in the delivery of the project in a such a short space of time.
“It includes state of the art facilities for indoor coaching, instruction at all levels, with specialised classrooms in addition to the main hall which provides the social area essential for all sports to encourage friendship likely to last a lifetime. A cycling club house has been a long awaited facility for the cycling community.
“It gives me great pleasure to declare the Clubhouse officially open…”
And he tugged the cord to reveal the wall plaque recording a proud moment in the Hillingdon circuit’s development, this cycling oasis in a congested part of London.
The man wearing the biggest smile was Stuart Benstead, chair of the Hillingdon Users Group.
“Now we can invite local schools to become involved here,” said Benstead. “Before, if the weather was bad, there was nowhere to go. Now, with this fabulous facility, we can take them in to the class rooms for coaching.”
As well as being fully used by the cycling clubs, with open events and a season-long league programme, the venue now attracts large numbers of the public who enjoy a wide range of facilities including in-line skating and Nordic skiing.
The Mayor reminded everyone how the clubhouse project was been achieved through a strong partnership between London Borough of Hillingdon, British Cycling and the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit Users Group.
He praised all the partners for making significant financial contributions towards the construction of this facility at a total cost of £715,000.
The creation of Hillingdon cycle circuit was driven by the late Chas Messenger and came from the need to find a replacement for Paddington Track in Maida Vale in London, destroyed in l987 by Westminster Council to make way for a dog exercise area.
In the first instance, Messenger got permission to use the unopened Hayes bypass for racing. It was March 1999 when the Hillingdon circuit was ready for use, on a once derelict site, formerly home to the largest car boot sale in the area.
But they may not have done it without the considerable influence of a local councillor, Paul Barker, who just happened to be a member of Westerley RC.
The creation of this circuit spawned the Hillingdon Slipstreamers youth racing club – which now has 200 members.
Hillingdon also pioneered winter road racing, which came about when senior riders were attracted by the prospect of traffic-free cycling.
For many years, riders and officials alike had to make do with container units for storage and make-shift changing facilities.
When the Goals Soccer Centre opened next door, arrangements were made for Hillingdon users to change and shower there.
Next thing on the cards is the creation of a 250-metre banked track – Paddington track mark II.
They’ve already done the feasibility study. If that happens, it will really bring the project full circle.
The Hillingdon Cycle Circuit Users Group comprises the following:
British Cycling West Thames Promotions
Hillingdon Slipstreamers children’s club
Hillingdon Triathlon Club
Imperial Racing Team
League of Veteran Racing Cyclists
London Nordic Ski Club
Minet Ladies Cycling Club