Closed UK Racecourses – 1
Sadly there are far too many closed racecourses in the UK. It looks like Kempton Park is set to be the latest to be lost to builders, who plan to replace the racecourse with a housing estate. This has caused anger from many within the horse racing community with big names such as Nicky Henderson and Tom Scudamore voicing their anger.
However, this is just the latest in a long list of race courses which has been sold and replaced by houses or other types of buildings. Below we have gone through a few other big racecourses which were shut down over the years.
Castle Irwell, Salford
26 May 1847- 9 November, 1963
The Castle Irwell course lay in a very tight bend of the River Irwell in Salford. This made the course notorious for fog and heavy ground. The course was hugely popular being situated very close to Manchester city centre. The future of the course seemed very bright when a new state of the art stand was built in 1962, however a just one year later the course had been closed.
The course saw over 20,000 visitors on its final day of racing showing just how popular the course was. The racecourse was turned into a university student village, with the old grandstand (below) being converted into the student union. This was closed in 2015 before an arson attack in 2016 seriously damaged the building.
Bromford Bridge, Birmingham
14 June 1895- 21 June 1965
Bromford Bridge racecourse was another to be lost due to the UK’s 1960’s housing boom. It was located just 5 miles from Birmingham town centre (see below), making it easily accessible for thousands of punters, especially via the racecourses own railway station.
This racecourse had a lot of character, it had a bar which held a world record for being the worlds longest continuous bar and regularly held pop concerts. However, Birmingham Corporation wanted the course to build 1,900 houses as part of a slum clearance programme. The corporation paid £1.25 million for the land and now the only thing which still stands is a circular pathway round a green where the parade ring once stood (below).
Alexandra Park, London
30 June, 1868-8 September, 1970
The Alexandra Park racecourse was situated just 7 miles from the centre of London, again making it very accessible to the general public. It was famous for being an odd shape which saw it gain the nickname ‘The Frying Pan’. It boomed after WW2 regularly seeing crowds of over 10,000 at an evening meeting.
One of Alexandra Park’s biggest fans was racing pundit John McCririck, who claims he wants his ashes spreading there when he dies. He described the racecourse as having a unique atmosphere as many races started just in front of the grandstand so you could hear the jockeys.
Gatwick Racecourse, London
7 October 1891-21 April 1948
Another racecourse lost to the urbanisation of England was Gatwick racecourse where the international airport now stands.
Today the only visible reminders that there was once a racecourse at Gatwick is the Flying Horse pub in the South Terminal, as well as the bandstand which now stands in Crawley town centre (seen below).
The racecourse hosted substitute Grand Nationals 3 times during WW1 whilst Aintree was turned into an Army base. However, during WW2 Gatwick itself was used as an air base and there was only one meeting which ever took place post war. This was in 1948 and attracted a crowd of 20,000.
Below is a list of UK racecourses which have now been closed:
Aldershot Military Last meeting 1 April 1939
Alexandra Park Last meeting 8 September 1970
Beaufort Last meeting 14 April 1956
Birmingham Last meeting 21 June 1965 (Evening Meeting)
Blackpool (Clifton Park) Last meeting 26 April 1915
Bogside Last meeting 10 April 1965
Bournemouth Last meeting 10 April 1928
Bridgnorth Last meeting 20 May 1939
Bridgwater Last meeting 13 May 1904
Buckfastleigh Last meeting 27 August 1960
Bungay Last meeting 29 May 1939
Burgh-by-Sands Last meeting 16 April 1900
Cardiff Last meeting 27 April 1939
Carmarthen Last meeting 17 April 1914
Champion Lodge (Maldon) Last meeting 29 April 1903
Chelmsford Last meeting 29 April 1935
Colchester Last meeting 4 April 1904
Colwall Park Last meeting 25 May 1939
Cottenham Last meeting 7 May 1925
Cowbridge Last meeting 4 May 1939
Croxton Park Last meeting 2 April 1914
Dawlish Last meeting 20 September 1900
Derby Last meeting 9 August 1939
Dunbar Last meeting 22 March 1906
Gatwick Last meeting 15 June 1940
Harpenden Last meeting 7 May 1914
Hawthorn Hill Last meeting 4 April 1939
Hethersett Last meeting 4 May 1939
Hooton Park Last meeting 26 December 1914
Hull Last meeting 11 September 1909
Hurst Park Last meeting 10 October 1962
Keele Park Last meeting 12 May 1906
Lanark Last meeting 18 October 1977
Lewes Last meeting 14 September 1964
Lincoln Last meeting 21 May 1964
Maiden Erlegh Last meeting 12 April 1906
Malton Last meeting 4 February 1904
Manchester Last meeting 9 November 1963
Monmouth Last meeting 4 May 1933
Newmarket Steeplechases Last meeting 28 December 1905
Newport Last meeting 17 May 1948
Northampton Last meeting 31 March 1904
Oswestry and Llanymynech Last meeting 29 April 1939
Old Oswestry Racecourse Last meeting 1848
Paisley Last meeting 10 August 1906
Pershore Last meeting 1 May 1939
Picton Last meeting 11 April 1914
Plymouth Last meeting 5 September 1929
Portsmouth Park Last meeting 13 April 1914
Ross-on-Wye Last meeting 18 April 1904
Rothbury Last meeting 10 April 1965
Sheffield Last meeting 5 November 1901
Shincliffe Last meeting 6 May 1914
Shirley Park Last meeting 11 March 1940
Stockton Last meeting 16 June 1981
Tarporley Last meeting 26 April 1939
Tenby Last meeting 29 October 1936
Torquay Last meeting 25 March 1940
Totnes Last meeting 1 September 1938
Wenlock Last meeting 5 May 1939
Woore Last meeting 1 June 1963
Wye Last meeting 2 May 1974