WALTHAMSTOW Stadium is commonly associated with greyhounds but it was racing of a very different kind which helped draw the crowds in the postwar years, as DANIEL BINNS reports.

TODAY the Stow, in Chingford Road, Chingford, lies empty and derelict, a shadow of its previous incarnation as a dog racing arena.

Campaigners are in a perpetual fight to get it reopened, but new owner London and Quadrant are determined to push ahead with their plans for a housing estate.

But as many look back nostalgically at its 'glory days', it is often forgotten that motorbike 'speedway' and stock car racing also was once a key part of the grand arena's programme.

Speedway took off in the UK just down the road in High Beech, where its first ever race in 1928 drew a huge crowd of 3,000 people.

Its popularity widely exceeded organisers' expectations, and it wasn't long before the craze spread.

And so in 1934 the Chandler family, who owned Walthamstow Stadium, tapped into the growing market and the 'Walthamstow Wolves' team was born.

A special track 305 yards long made with decomposed granite was formed along the inside of the dog track and racing began with an opening victory against Wimbledon in August.

However a series of disappointing results and complaints from neighbours over the noise lead to the team being disbanded just a year later.

Many racers moved instead to take part in speedway at Lea Bridge Stadium in Leyton, which had also sprung up in response to the demand for the sport.

Despite the major disruption of World War Two, motorbike racing enjoyed a resurgence – along with bicycle speedway – and in 1949 the Wolves were reborn at Walthamstow Stadium.

However the previous struggles of the Wolves also returned and they were forced to wind down in 1951.

But a decade later in 1962 motor racing returned in the form of stockcars, which proved far more successful.

Regular races continued right up until 1968, but they were no match for the lure of dogs and gambling.

In the end, the greyhounds proved the most lasting and successful draw, pulling thousands of people to the stadium annually until its eventual closure in 2008.