The early years

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 VC Thompson, who was also the first Honorary 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 Park 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 move to ice

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.

Around this period the club became more interested in competing on ice. In the 1929/30 season the club made its headquarters the Golders Green Ice Rink, although it still had a very strong roller speed section. At the end of the 1930/31 season the Golders Green Rink closed, leaving 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 Palais).

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 their headquarters, and were very happy that the name of Aldwych be retained, a decision which they never regretted. The club remained there for the next 58 years until Richmond closed in January 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 Aldwych Speed Club.

During the final days at Richmond, the club successfully made arrangements with the management of Basingstoke Ice Rink to make our headquarters there. However, 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.

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.

Supporters Club

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 trips to away fixtures, social functions, and occasional financial assistance to the club.

Winter Olympic Games

The club has sent members to many Winter Olympic Games. The first was Leonard Stewart in 1928 at the second Winter Olympic Games in St Moritz. The next club members to go were in 1948 again in St Moritz. Before 1992 all the skaters competed in long track speed skating. In 1992 Great Britain had competitors in both long track and short track, though Aldwych members only competed in short track that year. The best period for the club was in the 1990s and 2000s with seven club members representing Great Britain (many more than once) from 1992 to 2010. Nicky Gooch competed at four games and won Britain's first short track medal (bronze) in the 500m at Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. Up until 2022 a total of 16 Aldwych members have represented Great Britain at the Winter Olympic Games.

Global Club Cup

In the 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 and USA, as well as Europe. Aldwych finished in 2nd place out of an entry of over 39 clubs entered with over 200 skaters competing. The intention was that the competition would be a biennial event. However, there were only two more occasions when it happened. Aldwych Speed Club attended both of these competitions.

Youth Olympic Games and European Youth Olympic Festival

The European Youth Olympic Festival has run every two years since 1993. Depending on the venue, some years there is short track speed skating, some years there is not. Long track speed skating has only featured once in 2001 when there were no British long trackers. Most times when short track has been featured, at least one skater from Aldwych has taken part.

The Youth Olympic Games has taken place three times. In 2012 in Innsbruck, Austria, Aydin Djemal won a silver medal in the Mixed NOC Relay in short track. In 2020 in Lausanne, Switzerland, Olivia Weedon won a bronze medal in the short track Mixed NOC Relay and Theo Collins won a silver medal in the long track Mixed NOC Team Sprint.

Other international competitions

Aldwych skaters have taken part in the Star Class series of competitions. Skaters must achieve a qualifying time in order to compete in this series of three competitions in Western Europe. The top eight in each category from the series qualify to compete in the Europa Cup Final against the top eight skaters from Eastern Europe. Several Aldwych skaters have qualified for the Europa Cup Final.

Aldwych skaters have also taken part in many other international competitions such as the Alte Valtellina, Autumn Tournament, Opening Games, Munich Open, Alberto Nicolodi, Speculaas Cup, Easter Cup and Closing Games.

Many of the club's more senior skaters compete in international masters' competitions

British Championships

Aldwych Speed Club usually sends a large team of skaters to the British Short Track Championships. The club often wins several medals and has some winners in various categories.

Summer Camps

An annual summer camp and competition ran in Chamonix, France for 30 years with the last time being in 2011. Since 2012 the summer camp has been held in Oberstdorf, Germany. As well as short track ice training and competition, there is a mountain run, a triathlon or biathlon which has involved combinations of shooting, running, inline skating and kick-biking. There are social events for skaters and their families. This makes a fun family holiday. Most years many Aldwych families have attrended the summer camp.


The club celebrated its centenary in 2008 with a gala dinner and the publication of the book 'Go Fast, Turn Left'. At this time the club also decided that any members who competed in the Olympic Games would be Honorary Life Vice Presidents.

Long Track Speed Skating

With no 400m long track in Britain, skaters have to go abroad to train and compete. For many years long track languished in Britain with only a few skaters doing it for fun. In November 2014 a taster weekend was organised to try to revive interest in long track. This was a great success with several Aldwych skaters attending. There is a hardy band of Aldwych skaters who now travel to the Netherlands and Germany to train and compete in long track. Peter Riches, Theo Collins and Alexandra Snowdon have gone on to compete in Junior World Cup competitions. Several junior members have taken part in the Country Match against Norway, Finland and Sweden. Our master skaters also compete in long track. The club has won the trophy for Most Successful Club at the last four British Long Track Championships. There was a long time when Great Britain did not have any competitors in long track at the Olympic Games. In 2022 two skaters represented Team GB but they both live and train full time in the Netherlands.

Updated February 2022

Kay Collins

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