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Harringay Arena, site of
Green Lanes, Harringay, Borough of Haringey, London, UK
associated engineer
Oscar Faber
date  February - October 1936
era  Modern  |  category  Stadium/Arena/Pool  |  reference  TQ318881
Harringay Arena was the brainchild of politician Brigadier General Alfred Critchley, who owned the neighbouring Harringay Stadium — used for greyhound and speedway racing. It was built in just eight months and housed an ice-hockey rink that could be covered over for other events. It was demolished in 1978 and the site is now a shopping complex.
Critchley (1890-1963) launched a new company — Harringay Arena Ltd — in 1929 to build and operate the arena, which was constructed in 1936 with funds from a share issue. The site has poor load-bearing ground, requiring the driving of piles to a depth of approximately 15m. To add to the difficulty, two tunnels of the Piccadilly Line underground railway run diagonally beneath the area.
Oscar Faber designed the starkly Modernist structure and, as his contemporary Owen Williams had done on several occasions, Faber acted as both engineer and architect. The building is an elongated octagon on plan, 97.5m long and 68.5m wide, covered by a steel framed roof. Comparisons have been made with Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto as the model for a town centre ice rink.
In keeping with the tenets of Modernism, the street frontages were featureless, being made from unadorned brick panels. The octagonal plan shape resulted from a rather crudely executed rectangular main structure with hemi-octagonal hipped lean-to additions at each end. The main spans were of plated steel lattice trusses that matched the pitch of the roof, but had arched bottom booms. This gave clear spans that allowed uninterrupted views of the events from any seat in the house.
The purpose-built ice-hockey rink had a capacity of 8,000 spectators and was surrounded by a terrace of 24 tiers of stepped seating. At the time ice hockey was popular and matches were played by, among others, the two local teams — Harringay Racers and Harringay Greyhounds.
For other, non-skating, events the ice was covered by a 60.4m long and 26.8m wide maplewood floor and the arena could then accommodate 10-11,000 onlookers. However, repeated complaints of ‘cold feet’ were inevitable when the ice rink was covered over for other uses. Harringay Arena hosted boxing matches (including five world title fights), concerts (including the London Music Festival in 1947 and 1948), ballets, circuses, basketball and wrestling for the 1948 summer Olympic Games, the Horse of the Year Show (1949-1958), international netball matches (from 1955), badminton and roller skating.
The arena lasted until 1958 as a venue for sporting and cultural events, but closed as ice hockey became less popular. After closing, it was used by Cavendish Foods for storage until it was demolished in 1978.
Architect: Oscar Faber
Contractor: Dorman Long & Co. Ltd
Research: ND
bibliography
"Oscar Faber, his work, his firm & afterwards" by John Faber, Quiller Press, London 1989
www.bbc.co.uk
www.british-history.ac.uk
Location

Harringay Arena, site of