Greyhound stadium went to the dogs after 42 years

For more than 40 years, Luton Town Football Club’s ground at Kenilworth Road wasn’t the town’s only sporting arena.

Aerial view 1961
Aerial view 1961

Luton Greyhound Stadium at Skimpot was a popular venue for dog race enthusiasts between 1931 and 1973.

But there had been a huge struggle to get planning permission for a track in the Luton area. A public inquiry was held in 1928 to settle the question of whether a stadium should be built on open land at Icknield Road, Limbury.

At that time Limbury was outside the Luton boundary. Luton Rural District Council opposed the idea and there was also fierce opposition from the Nonconformist churches, whose members felt that betting was immoral.

The project fell through and eventually a stadium was built on the corner of Skimpot Road and Dunstable Road.

It doubled as a 311-yard speedway track used by Luton riders known, not surprisingly, as the Hatters.

The circuit, mainly used as a training school for the Wembley team, ran for three years from 1934 before those involved cut their losses and pulled out as attendances fell away. Greyhound racing continued until 1973 when the stadium owners sold it to Ladbrokes, owners of neighbouring Cesars Palace nightclub.

The Luton News reported in 1974 that fans were willing to spend up to £150,000 to bring back dog racing and they and local residents campaigned against plans to build warehouse and industrial units and a new car park for Cesars Palace.

But the greyhound stadium was demolished and replaced by the Stadium Estate