Harringay Arena

Harringay Arena was a sporting and events venue on Green Lanes in Harringay, North London, England. Built in 1936, it lasted as a venue until 1958. The Arena was built and owned by Brigadier-General Alfred Critchley under the auspices of his private company, the Greyhound Racing Association Trust Ltd (GRA). A new company, Harringay Arena Limited, whose directors were also directors of the GRA, was incorporated in 1929 to build and manage the venue. The company raised funds for the venture via a stock and share issue in January 1936.[1] Designed by Dr. Oscar Faber,[2] the Arena was a stark modernist octagonal-shaped building which borrowed heavily from the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. It was erected adjacent to the Harringay Stadium in just eight months between February and October 1936. Its vast steel roof was constructed by Dorman Long & Co who had recently been responsible for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and completed the new Wembley Stadium in 2007. It had a seating capacity of almost 10,000 for ice hockey and slightly more for boxing. The actual arena was 198 feet (60 m) long by 88 feet (27 m) wide.[3] A removable maple floor could be laid over the ice for non-sporting events. This arrangement clearly proved troublesome. At an event shortly after its opening the Daily Herald reported that "claims that Harringay had solved its cold-feet problem were not quite substantiated. Cold air from the ice below the boards filtered through".[4] [edit]Sports venue Specifically designed as an ice hockey venue, it quickly became famous as a venue for both ice hockey and boxing. Up to the Second World War, ice hockey enjoyed its most popular era n the UK until a revival in the 1990s. Two local teams were formed for the Arena's opening, Harringay Racers and Harringay Greyhounds. On October 26, 1938, the first ice hockey game to be televised anywhere in the world was played at Harringay between the Racers and Streatham. A year later, WWII started and ice hockey matches were suspended. This interruption proved very damaging to the sport's popularity and post-war audiences remained thin for the remainder of the Arena's life. Boxing became firmly established at the Arena prior to the war. On April 7, 1938 Harringay was the venue for the first boxing match to be televised live when the full 15 rounds between Len Harvey v Jock McAvoy were broadcast. Following the war Harringay was a very successful boxing venue. During its 22 year life, it was home to five world title fights, a record for any British venue by the time the Arena ceased operating as a venue in 1958.[5] However famous the Arena became for boxing, commercial necessity led to a diversification into a wider range of events including: The basketball[6][7] and wrestling[8] events for the 1948 Summer Olympics.[9] All England Open Badminton Championships from 1947 to 1949.[10] Home of the Horse of the Year Show for its first ten years, from 1949 to 1958. In its final year at Harringay, the show featured in the first broadcast of the BBC's new Saturday afternoon sports programme Grandstand. Roller Speedway from 1939 until 1952, with a break during the War. In 1953, with the demise of roller speedway, the Arena hosted a Roller Derby match. Wrestling. Five-a-side football. Basketball. European Netball Championships from 1955.