An activity possibly originating in Finland 400 yeara ago
Skating in the early days was informal, and of course needed the right conditions. We know that in 1878 a large number of workmen were summoned to clear Home Park and thousands turned to skating as the icy weather tightened its grip. In February 1912 the Surrey Comet reported the use of the Long Water in Home Park for skating. It stated that “there has been skating for 9 consecutive days. The Long Water has been thrown open to the public for the first time since 1895.” There was also an Exhibition of skating and waltzing by the World Amateur Champions. Staff from the Office of Works kept the surface swept and a charge of 6d was made. It also noted that the Queen’s River (that we call the Longford River) was frozen over and a considerable number of people were skating on it.
In East Twickenham in the early 1920s Claude Langdon conceived what might be described as the country’s first leisure centre – a sports hall, ice rink, tennis courts, a bowling green and restaurants – on a site in Clevedon Road. The site had been a roller-skating rink requisitioned during the First World War to build a factory making hand-grenades. This became derelict after hostilities ceased, and construction of a new rink took from 1924 to 1927
When the rink opened in 1928, the Hammersmith ice rink became the Palais and its skaters were given free tickets for the new Richmond rink. All the clubs that had been based at Hammersmith and Earls Court transferred to the new “Richmond” ice rink on the East Twickenham site, making it the premier rink in London. In 1978 the rink was sold to a property developer who kept it running until 1987, when it was bought by another property company. In 1992 the rink was closed, the building demolished and the site developed with housing.
Von Ribbentrop skated here. He was appointed Ambassador to the Court of St James in 1936. His hobby was ice dancing so he bought a house next door to the ice rink. He reputedly spent his evenings skating and socialising there.