Cycling star Callum Skinner mourns loss of Meadowbank velodrome

Callum Skinner tweeted this picture from a visit to the former  Meadowbank velodrome during demolition.
Callum Skinner tweeted this picture from a visit to the former Meadowbank velodrome during demolition.
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one of the Capital’s sporting heroes has taken to social media to lament the loss of the venue he credits as being integral to the success of British cycling.

Callum Skinner posted pictures of the Meadowbank velodrome partially demolished and looking a far cry from the once bustling training facility that helped produce a string of Scottish sporting stars.

Track cyclist Callum, 26, who scooped his first gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, wrote: “Meadowbank Velodrome, Edinburgh. Currently minus a third of the track, mid demolition. This historic venue is finally meeting its end. Much of @BritishCycling @TeamGB @Team_Scotland success can be attributed in some part to this track.”

Built for the Commonwealth Games in 1970, Meadowbank was the first 250-metre timber track in the UK. A frequently-noted design flaw was the absence of a roof and it swiftly earned the nickname “Wellydrome” given the frequency with which racing was rained off because of the dangers of riding its steep banking in wet weather.

The venue was the scene of many cycling highlights, starting with the day when Edinburgh’s Brian Temple won a silver medal in the 10 mile event in 1970, making him Scotland’s first-ever Commonwealth cycling medallist.

In the 1980s it produced a stream of British champions, mainly thanks to the City of Edinburgh Racing Club, Meadowbank’s “home” club, with Eddie Alexander excelling on the international stage, too. Into the 1990s and Graeme Obree graced its boards; then there was Chris Hoy, Craig MacLean, Marco Librizzi, James McCallum, Kate Cullen, Callum Skinner, and many more.

Joining his fellow cyclist in mourning the downfall of the Meadowbank track, Sir Chris Hoy posted an atmospheric snap on social media taken by photographer Alan Dobbie. He captioned it: “Sad day. End of an era for Meadowbank Velodrome. So many memories, so many friendships all thanks to this place.”

Last year, Sir Chris visited the venue for the last time with his parents during a trip to the Edinburgh Book Festival. The pilgrimage to his home track where he trained from the age of 15, so vital to his career success, “brought back so many happy memories and sadness and a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality”.

The Save Meadowbank campaign has criticised Edinburgh Council for starting the demolition. Spokeswoman Heather Peacock said: “When Edinburgh Council’s planning sub-committee met on 29 June, it agreed a fresh consultation was required, starting from a clean slate with nothing ruled in and noting ruled out which includes the option of retaining a velodrome at Meadowbank. More specifically, it also agreed no work would be carried out until a full consultation had concluded and a masterplan agreed for the entire site.

“Yet last week the bulldozers moved in to knock down two outbuildings, remove flashing from the grandstand and then, on Friday, to start demolishing the velodrome.

“This is a massive breach of promise and puts in doubt the entire consultation, which is only just about to start.”