New Club House at Hillingdon
Story posted July 20; by Stuart Benstead, Photos Gerry McManus
Having waited for 11 years for a proper clubhouse, a large group of users of the Hillingdon cycle circuit were present to celebrate the official opening by the Mayor, Cllr David Yarrow on Tuesday, 13 July. Many were veterans who, in any case, would meet for a social ride around the circuit on a Tuesday morning, along with members of the Slipstreamers children’s club, Minet Ladies Club, and the London Nordic Ski Club that is a regular user of the circuit.
Then, of course, there was a big turn out of the volunteer officials of the nine organisations forming the Users Group that runs the circuit completely on a volunteer basis and has done so since its construction when there were absolutely no facilities at all other than the roadway. But then, this ‘just do it’ attitude had prevailed for four years earlier when the adjoining Hayes by-pass, then unopened and awaiting completion at the far end, was the forerunner to the present circuit and successful weekly race meetings were held with the youth and junior competitors including Bradley Wiggins, Roger Hammond and Tony Gibb.
The present circuit is now operating most of the year on a seven-day basis for a wide variety of non-motorised sports. There are already well over 200 booked events with exclusive use of the circuit each year, plus casual use at all other times by all types of cyclists. The new clubhouse with its state of the art facilities will undoubtedly increase its attraction to new organisers and participants who rightfully expect cycle sport to be competitive with its facilities with the likes of health, golf, football and cricket clubs.
The Mayor pointed out that this was an actual opening, rather than just a formal one and that evening the first race meeting using the clubroom had 120 competitors across all ages and abilities, include 30 children under-16. The excellent turnout of Borough councilors all showed great enthusiasm for the circuit and the encouragement of cycling in general. It turned out that the deputy mayor, Cllr Mary O’Connor, had participated in a London to Paris charity ride two years ago and had used the circuit as part of her preparation. She was complimentary to the encouragement she had received at the circuit from club cyclists using the circuit at the same time.
The funding for the project came by the provision of £350,000 from Hillingdon Council, matched by Sport England through the British Cycling Federation and by £20,000 contributed by the cycle circuit Users Group to make a £720,000 total. Before planning could take place however, the Hillingdon Community Trust had provided £12,500 towards the Feasibility Study that was an essential stage towards achieving planning consent. Subsequently the Trust provided £7,500 to provide the furniture and equipment for the running of the clubhouse.
It consists of a clubroom with a light catering facility, office, toilets, changing rooms, First Aid room and a classroom for coaching courses or concurrent use for meetings separate from the main clubroom, plus a storage area. Broadband is being connected and there will be the facility for Power Point presentations.
The intended main changing rooms with showers remain those in the adjacent Goals 5-a-side Soccer Centre. To have a further shower block within the new clubhouse would have increased the cost to a totally unachievable level and also intruded into Minet Park, a Green Belt site, just too much. Mainly, the changing rooms in the clubhouse are to fulfill the need for youth events when it is perceived that the majority, who are likely to live locally, prefer to return home for a shower.
Chairman of the Users Group, Stuart Benstead, comments: “We are deeply grateful for the support we have received for this project from the Council, particularly Cllr Henry Higgins and his staff. Then there is the Hillingdon Slipstreamers children’s club where membership is stretched to its limits. In fact not only did the club provide all the Hillingdon Team riders in the recent London Youth Games, they also provided most of the riders for several adjoining boroughs".
“From the beginning 11 years ago, we are proud of the way our team of volunteers have built up the use of the circuit by thousands of cyclists from Olympic Gold Medalist Bradley Wiggins across the abilities to the Minet Ladies Club where many of the members have had to be taught to ride a bike."
“Our next targets for development are the construction of two short roads to link the existing circuit into a format that provides two smaller circuits that will enable the children’s club to expand by using different circuits for different age groups. The, probably in the longer term in these recessionary times, we still aspire to an outdoor banked 250m track.”