The Aldwych Speed club was founded as a roller speed skating club Christmas 1908, at the Aldwych Roller Skating Rink in the Strand, London. It is the oldest speed skating club in Great Britain. (it is also the oldest Short Track Club in Europe.) The two most prominent founder members being Mr. W.Soper, and Mr V.C.Thompson, who was also the first Hon Secretary.

In 1911, the Aldwych Rink closed and the club moved to the Empress Hall, Earls Court, which in those days was a roller rink. This residence was very short lived, as within a month of the club moving there that rink also closed. The club then moved to the Holland Part Roller Rink where it stayed for 16 years until that rink closed in 1928, with a break only in the war years 1914-1918.

The 1928/29 season found the club without a home or indeed any training facilities, but members still entered all National Championships and open events. During the 1927/28 season some of the members pioneered indoor racing on the ice, at Westminster Ice rink. In 1928 an Aldwych member L.Stewart, was the first to represent Great Britain in the Ice Speed Skating events (Long track) in the Winter Olympics in St Moritz.

Around this period the club became more interested in competing on ice and in the 1929/30 season the club made its headquarters the Golders Green Ice Rink, although it still had a very strong roller Speed sections. At the end of the 1930/31 season the Golders Green Rink closed, leaving the Aldwych to transfer to The Ice-Drome, Richmond. This too closed the following season, making the club homeless again. There followed a period in which all racing had to be conducted as away fixtures, whilst efforts were made to find a new home. During this time the management of the Hammersmith Ice Drome offered the club a permanent home provided the club changed its name to Hammersmith Speed Club. A special meeting was called and the matter discussed. A vote was taken with the result that 100% of those present were against a change of name. Shortly after this the Hammersmith Rink closed later to become famous as a Dance Hall (Hammersmith Palas).

At the beginning of the 1934/35 season the Richmond Rink opened again, under the name of Sportsdrome. The management invited the club to once again make Richmond the headquarters, and were very happy that the name of Aldwych be retained, a decision which they never regretted, and the club remained there for the next 58 years until Richmond closed in January in 1992. Such was the esteem that the club was held that the Richmond museum staged a special exhibition in 1992 embracing the history of Richmond Rink and the Aldwych Speed Club.

During the final days at Richmond Club successfully made arrangements with the management of Basingstoke Ice Rink to make our headquarters there but with the opening of the Guildford rink in 1993, the club successfully negotiated training facilities at the Spectrum and hopefully appear to be settled for the foreseeable future.

Aldwych supplied three of the five man team to represent G.B in the 1998 Winter Olympics, together with Alan Luke, the National Coach then, who is also a long standing Club member. The club has been represented in nearly all of the G.B. International team events and the Olympic Games. ( in Long Track & Short Track)

Nicky Gooch, 8 times British Champion was a second generation Aldwych member, and the first British skater to win a medal in the (Lilliehammer Games Norway 1994) in the 500m Short Track event. Another member, Debbie Palmer was 10 times British Ladies Champion, until Sarah Lindsay took the title. Sarah has maintained holding the title now to the present day (2007). Also in 1998. As a junior Leon Flack won the Junior Championship and went onto gaining the Senior championship leading into the 2002 Games and was a member of the Team GB for that Olympic Games along with David Allerdice also from the Aldwych. Along with Sarah Lindsay Debbie Palmer and Joanna Williams.

In autumn of 2001 the club attended the first Global Club Competition (An ISU event). The competition was held in Manheim Germany with clubs attending from around the world as far away as China, USA, as well as Europe. Aldwych finished in 2nd Place out of an entry of over 39 Clubs entered with over 200 skaters competing. Since then the club has supported the by annual event.

In the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City (US), all six of the competitors, three men and three ladies were Aldwych skaters, and it being Nick Gooch’s fourth Olympic Games. Again at the European Youth Olympic Festival of 2004, we had three junior boys and one junior girl in the team. In The 2006 Turin Winter Olympics we saw Sarah Lindsay being the first Aldwych female member to make top ten place, finishing 8th Place in the 500m.

In the late 1940’s through to the 1960’s the club had backing of a very strong supporters club, some 600 strong at its peak. They used to have a permanent kiosk in the rink, selling programmes, photos, badges, etc. They used to organise coach trip to away fixtures, social functions, and occasional financial assistance to the club. With so many names from the past, British Champions, record holders, and a few dozen candidates for the title of ‘best skater ever to leave a championship’,

Just about every British Championship and every British record, on both ice and rollers, has at some time or other been held by, Aldwych members. As long ago as 1940 the roller side of the club was dropped and the club concentrated on ice speed.

Over the years Aldwych members have won competitions at all levels, both national and international. From the very beginning in the 1908/1909 season J. Price won the British Amateur Championship at Crystal Palace Rink, the only championship then in existence then, to Ian Upcott winning the Junior Championship and Sarah Lindsay winning the Senior Ladies Championship 2007 and so the story goes on.

And thats the story up to the end of the 2007 season.

Come back soon for the next ten years...







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