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Tyne and Wear HER(4246): Gosforth, High Gosforth Park Racecourse - Details

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Newcastle, the stand, Newcastle racecourse



Gosforth, High Gosforth Park Racecourse

North Gosforth



Racing Sports Site


Early Modern



Charles Perkins and Fife John Scott promoted horse racing on the Town Moor. In 1880 they bought the 807 acre High Gosforth Park estate from Thomas Eustace Smith and then sold it to the High Gosforth Park Company, set up to create a new racecourse and pleasure park. The racecourse on the Town Moor was largely unenclosed, allowing free access to races for the general public. By the end of the 19th century, changes were taking place in racing, with fully enclosed racecourses being built, where all race goers paid an entrance fee which could be fed back into the sport for prize money. A grandstand was built onto the south side of Gosforth House. It was built by John Waddell & Sons of Edinburgh. Originally the grandstand extended eastwards beyond the house, but now only the western section survives. A smaller detached stand had been designed by William Parnell for the Town Moor racecourse in 1867 but was re-erected at the rear of Gosforth House's west wing. It remained in use until the Second World War. In March 1881 the High Gosforth Park Company opened the site for coursing (the pursuit of hares by greyhounds) within an enclosed 52 acre ground. Thirty kennels were built and 200 hares brought in. Greyhound coursing ceased in 1890. The opening horse race was held on 10 April 1882. A cycle track was laid in 1882. Visitors could skate and boat on the lake. From around 1885 to the 1920s trotting races were staged on a track in front of the main stand. A fire in 1915 damaged the stand and a new brick based stand was built around 1921 east of the house. There was another fire in 1962. Two new stands were opened in April 1965 on either side of the surviving section of the main stand. The racecourse has courses for flat racing and hurdles. The combination of a grade 2* listed country house and a grade 2 listed grandstand is almost certainly unique in British horse racing. In 1994 the estate was bought by Northern Racing. Corporate and exhibition facilities have been improved at a cost of £11 million. There are now some 30 race meetings a year. The highlight is a three day festival in late June, known as Race Week, when the Town Moor Hoppings take place and the Northumberland Plate or Pitmen's Derby (first held on the Town Moor in 1833) is staged. This is a flat race on a two mile circuit, for horses three years old and over. The winning owner receives a silver salver embossed with the Duke of Northumberland's Percy lion emblem. Ladies Day is held in July.




<< HER 4246 >> 2nd edition Ordnance Survey map, 1898, 6 inch scale, Northumberland, 88, NE; J. Ross 1995, A Day at the Races Kenton Local History Society, Bulletin No. 7, p 5-15; Archaeological Services Durham University, 2013, Newcastle Race Course at High Gosforth Park, North Gosforth, Tyne and Wear - archaeological desk based assessment; Pearson, Lynn, 2010, Played in Tyne and Wear - Charting the heritage of people at play, pp 50-57

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