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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Deerfoot Ran Here
The location of one of the first British track races.
Location: Wick Road, Hackney Wick
Description: This is where the long running sports ground The White Lion Running Ground used to be. The pub's owner built it behind the public house in 1857 and the first proper meeting was held here on 28th December 1857.
It was said to have been 260 yards and about 12 feet wide and lasted until about 1873. The track was roughly egg-shaped with one very short bend with virtually square corners, a more rounded bend, a long straight parallel to the railway (which is still there and is the Homerton - Hackney Wick line) and another shorter straight at about 20 degrees to the other one.
Wick Road used to be called Wick Lane on which the pub was situated.
The White Lion pub existed in that name until about 1997, surviving the building of the flyover that now overshadows it. It became a club called Geneva's and then Silvar Link.
This venue was the location of some of the first track races in England. The American Red Indian runner Deerfoot competed here on 26th December 1862 in a 6 mile race against Edward Mills and again in 1863 in a ten mile race against the cream of the British runners.
Deerfoot broke the world record here for the greatest distance run in one hour. Despite beating many of the best British runners he became very popular with the crowds, and as many as 10,000 people flocked here to watch him run.
The last time Deerfoot raced here (and in Britain) was in May 1863, when John 'Gateshead Clipper' White, finally beat him. White ran the first six miles of the race in 29 minutes fifty seconds a British record which was not broken for over 70 years!