Charlton’s Hornfair Park BMX track: Fantastic or a flop?

A near-deserted Hornfair Park BMX track on Sunday afternoon (photo: Clare Griffiths)
A near-deserted Hornfair Park BMX track on Sunday afternoon (photo: Clare Griffiths)

A few years back, plans for a BMX track in Hornfair Park were wildly controversial. On one side, neighbours had slightly wild visions of young people up to no good. On the other, Greenwich Council was playing fast and loose in its eagerness to get the thing built.

Sound familiar?

Anyhow, a Charlton Champion chum took her son there on Sunday… and found it deserted. We’ve had anecdotal reports that the BMX track isn’t being used as much as it could be – others simply don’t know it’s there.

We do know there’s an established BMX club that uses it, but it’s hard to shake off the feeling that it’s becoming yet another poorly-promoted local facility.

But what do you think? Did the BMX track live up (or down) to your expectations? Will the Easter holiday see a surge in kids on bikes heading for the track? And with the skateboard park looking like becoming a reality in Charlton Park, what lessons can be learned from the BMX track? We’d like to know.

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16 thoughts on “Charlton’s Hornfair Park BMX track: Fantastic or a flop?

  1. Kevin March 22, 2016 / 14:22

    A track as opposed to ramps is a hard sell to kids and was never going to be that popular. However im sure if tge new plan for bowls and ramps is a success there will be much greater general use.

  2. Stuart Hopper March 22, 2016 / 15:16

    My friends kids won’t go there by themselves because of intimidation. The reasons why it’s not well used are exactly the reasons why we would have opposed the skatepark being put in Hornfair Park, especially next to the BMX track; there’s no integration with other facilities, or footfall. Undesirable elements take over the space. It’s a lottery for the kids when they go there. Plus the fencing around the outside make it even more secluded, and difficult to escape from in the event that the kids are victimised. Hence us being chuffed that the Skatepark is planned for Charlton Park. The site there will have sufficient community oversight, both from users within and the community without. This is all stuff they’ve put far more eloquently than I can in the stakeholder meetings for the skatepark.

  3. David Cutts March 22, 2016 / 16:48

    Erm … try going on a saturday morning when the club is in full swing. I take my kids there and even go round myself … nowt like seeing a 40 year old bloke killing a BMX. Not had any dodgy experiences myself and looking forward to the weather getting better so I finish off my BMX!

  4. simon reynolds March 23, 2016 / 14:46

    Pupils from Greenwich Free School have used the track and recently won a competition.

  5. clogsilk March 23, 2016 / 19:01

    I will just add that after I took this photo (and various other) a couple of slightly older lads came to use the track. They couldn’t have been kinder to my son, who is a challenge at the best of times. They humoured his attempts to race them and took time to explain how he could go faster on the track. No intimidation in sight.

  6. Lazarus March 24, 2016 / 09:27

    We could all go to the 02 Arena and take a picture when it is empty and ask the question, ‘why so empty?’….Only to return the next night to see it packed. I think looking at the sky in the picture may have something to do with it, it being a cold spring morning. Folkestone Gardens Skate park in Deptford has just had a upgrade from prefabricated poorly placed ramps to a concrete park, the criticism is it is to well used now. It would seem that those who are against will say whatever to stop the march of concrete! To busy, to empty, to noisy, to quiet, to many unsupervised children, to many adults. These are shared public spaces, a little compromise and consideration by all and they can become great community resources. Sometimes I wonder if the neigh-sayers were ever young? Get a grip, and go have some fun, get off your keyboards, spend less time in whining ‘Friends of’ groups and start being friends to people and not friends of inanimate objects.

    Can’t wait for the Charlton Park Skate facility, the muted sound of wood slapping against concrete coping is a far better sound that the harrumphing of a miserable joy stealer whining about kids having fun and the occasional discarded plastic bottle!

    • Darryl March 24, 2016 / 09:30

      The photo was taken in the middle of the afternoon – and as you’ll no doubt have read above, some more users turned up shortly after.

    • clogsilk March 24, 2016 / 09:34

      Who is whining? It was a bog standard afternoon, not boiling, not freezing. A handful of people used the track. It would’ve been nice to see more people using it, and I for one can’t wait for the skate park to arrive. My kids will love it I’m sure.

  7. Lazarus March 24, 2016 / 10:08

    Never said you were whining, just tired of the negative perception of these spaces. On any given day, morning or afternoon, sunny or cold you will find empty basketball courts, tennis courts, football pitches across this great city of ours, that is just the nature of public space, you can’t quantify a facilities success by how often it is or isn’t used, the fantastic BMX Race track in Burgess park in Southwark stands unused for much of it’s time, but on club nights and week end sessions both training and race meets it is buzzing with many young aspiring riders chasing their dreams of one day representing their country in the Olympics. Be very aware that their are those, (not you silk, obviously from your response) that will use every negative comment to feed their distorted narrative about these spaces.

  8. Steve March 25, 2016 / 20:27

    If you want intimidating, try Charlton Park every Wednesday lunchtime. Gangs of pensioners walking two and three -abreast (each armed with ski-poles) blocking the pavement and paths. They think they own the place. Property millionaires with mortgages paid off, proper pensions, free prescriptions and free travel on public transport. Hooligans! Give me a bunch of teenagers on skate boards any day.

  9. Joe Thorne March 29, 2016 / 12:52

    Well, well, well. Today I am a hard working person. Tomorrow I’ll be a filthy rich and blood sucking old person. What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours. I thought I had played by the rules in place all my life and had done my bit. I am told different now. My first gadgets and foreign holidays came when I was approaching my 40s and I paid interest on my mortgage at around 17.5%. Tomorrow my pitiful savings will do little to top up my income because quantitative easing means very little interest being paid (I think because of debts run up by those living beyond their means). I will be asset rich but cash poor. I would love to move out of a property that is too big and too expensive to maintain and down size. This is not on. With the explosion of extensions most properties are bigger than the one I live in. Bungalows? Two story houses? The only new builds on offer are flats with dodgy lifts on the flood plain. And just start looking into retirement complexes and find out the pitfalls there. I could always move to cardboard city and give my house to someone deserving, but I think I’ll add my bit to intergenerational envy and stay put and let the place fall down round me instead and go and annoy people in the park as I can’t afford the pub.

    • Darryl March 29, 2016 / 13:57

      Chill out, Joe, you could always ride a BMX, and then post a comment here about it.

  10. Angus Bearn April 4, 2016 / 19:49

    I’ve been, I loved it. And I’m 52 years old! These things are great. My granddaughter raced around, too. Two little kids beat me easily, but hey. The problem with the park is that there are no longer any park-keepers, that’s all. They would have stopped the vandalism, and made everyone feel safe. The worst feature of this brilliant little park? You can’t go jogging or cycling without some brute dog trying to eat you.

  11. Mik April 7, 2016 / 11:36

    If you want to see the track in full flow, pop along this Sunday from 12pm. The track is hosting races part of the London BMX series. Riders of all levels will be taking part, I’d urge anyone to go down and have a look at what BMX racing is all about. There will always be times when the track isn’t very busy, however there are certainly a large number of people who get great use and enjoyment from it.

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