One of London’s most famous neon signs brought back to life
The culmination of a painstaking restoration project sees the landmark art deco Walthamstow Stadium facade lit for the first time in eight years.
It was known as Las Vegas at the end of the Victoria Line and has been used in pop videos and films, reproduced on posters and seen by millions of motorists speeding past it on the North Circular road. But the lights on the iconic 1930s art deco Walthamstow Stadium facade have been off for more than eight years, since the track closed down and the last greyhound left the building.
Now the neon has been painstakingly restored by a local craftsman, bringing it back to its former glory.
The first collection of shared ownership homes at Stadium Place is anticipated to launch this spring, and the spectacular neon sign will certainly help to put them on the map. Tucked away behind the facade, the development will include 99 shared ownership properties, incorporating maisonettes, houses and five wheelchair accessible homes.
Proposed facilities for this new community include a pre-school nursery, cafe, newsagent and play areas. The old dog kennels have been cleverly converted into sheds to accompany innovative ‘pocket allotments’. Properties will have a guide price of £415,000, with buyers able to purchase a minimum share of 25 per cent of the full market value.
As part of the planning deal L&Q were more than happy to retain the Grade II listed sign, but decided to go further, pouring £100,000 into the restoration of this much loved east London landmark. L&Q took advice from Historic England (formerly English Heritage) before starting the restoration. Claire Brady from Historic England said:
“The whole thing is an amazing art deco piece. We don’t have that much art deco architecture represented in England and this one is of the finest quality. It’s a wonderful piece of construction that is very much valued locally and nationally.
“L&Q have taken a responsible approach to this tote building in their outlook. They always asked for advice when they’ve needed it. When it has come to the heritage aspects and the repairs of the signage and tote building, they have actually explored options that are a bit more costly than a simple replacement.
“I think it was fantastic that they went down that road rather than seeking to replace it, and they took our advice on board when we gave it.”
Claire Brady, Historic Buildings and Areas Inspector, Historic England
The facade has been shrouded in scaffolding as the work has been carried out but on the 10th of February at 5pm the wrapping came off and the switch was flicked revealing the vivid colours of the beautifully restored neon. The team who worked on the project are delighted with the results. Architect Mary Davies said:
“I thought it was quite sad that the whole thing had been left to deteriorate the way that it had. But we have done a fabulous job of restoring it, it looks great. And it will always remain great. Now that there is a full time occupant on site it will be maintained forever.
“L&Q have done an excellent job. They are aware of what their responsibilities are they are fully prepared to go a little bit above and beyond. The clock for example, wasn’t going to be restored and now it is so I think it’s a great bonus.”
“I think the Stadium Place project as a whole is so diverse. There are so many things that are built into this project that people are unaware of like flood prevention. Also, the whole project has five different construction types, plus listed buildings, and pocket allotments so it creates a truly sustainable place to live.”
Mary Davies, Senior Architectural Technologist at HTA Design ALP
L&Q’s shared ownership properties are built to an exceptionally high standard and are designed to help first time buyers onto the property ladder in popular areas of London. See Stadium Place for more details and to register your interest.
Councillor Khevyn Limbajee, Waltham Forest Council Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
“This development will ensure more high quality housing is made available to our residents in line with our ambition to see 12,000 new homes built in the borough by 2020. Meeting the need for homes is a key priority and for anyone who loves Walthamstow – and what could be better than to move into a property in the iconic dog stadium?“
Jerome Geoghegan, L&Q’s Group Director, Development and Sales, added:
“I’m delighted we have been able to restore this iconic facade to its full glory. It will now be an outstanding local landmark for everyone who comes to live in this exciting new development, as well as to people throughout the country who remember its powerful image from the past. It has been a pleasure to work with such dedicated partners to make this happen for all of us.”
Quick Walthamstow Stadium facts:
Famous female aviator Amy Johnson opened the stadium in 1933
The neon was installed in 1951 in time to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952
320 pieces of glass were used in the restoration of the sign
The front and back cover of the Blur album Parklife were shot at the stadium
David Beckham’s first job was as a glass collector at the stadium
Walthamstow has a history of connection with neon, being home to the internationally recognised neon gallery God’s Own Junkyard.
The Walthamstow Stadium neon restoration
The neon was restored by local craftsman Andy Cook, of Linton Signs, at his workshop in Chingford, Essex, just a few miles from the stadium.
Andy first worked on repairs to the Walthamstow Stadium neon 20 years ago as an apprentice. But he was excited about this opportunity to restore it to how it would have looked when it was first switched on in 1951.
“I think to have it restored is a far better than having it made new because you would have lost the history of it – it kind of tells you a little story, how those days everything was lead-coated afterwards to to give it longevity.
“Everything had to be documented and photographed. Then L&Q showed historic England and we would get the go-ahead to go onto the next letter and so on.”
Andy Cook, neon craftsman.