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Earliest meeting: March 1639
Final meeting: Wednesday 2nd April 1862
The Northumbrian town of Berwick-upon-Tweed is the most northerly town in England being less than 3 miles from the Scottish border. Although it is in England, it is included in this volume because much of the racing in the vicinity of the town was at Lamberton in Scotland. Berwick began as an Anglo-Saxon settlement, its name meaning ‘barley village’. The earliest reference to racing in the town was in a letter written by Henry, Lord Clifford in March 1639 refusing permission for a horse race match to take place for fear it would create unrest. Again in 1654 racing was planned, but Cromwell sent a number of troops to ensure the meeting did not take place. The first hard evidence of a meeting taking place was in April 1684 when three races were contested for the Berwick £20 Town Plate, the £30 Town Plate and the Smaller Town Plate. A condition of entry was that horses had to be stabled in Berwick fourteen days prior to the races. In the late 17th century Berwick was divided into the Westgait area and the Royal Burgh of North Berwick consisting of Eastgait and Trongait. A separate horse race meeting became established in North Berwick in 1695. The races were sponsored by the local Laird Sir Hew Dalrymple, along with the Town Council, taking place annually on the first Monday of January, known as Hansel Monday. The course was on the sands west of the Eil burn, offering spectators a splendid view from the top of the dunes.

I am grateful to Jim Herbert of the Berwick Time Lines for providing the extract shown below from the Newcastle Courant of Saturday 16th May 1724. It shows that a meeting did take place on Tuesday 23rd June 1724.

Much later a two day meeting took place in Berwick on Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th September 1770 when a Purse of Gold was offered each day. Race meetings were run intermittently for the next 90 years, although there was a period in the middle of the 19th century when no races took place because a local clergyman, the Reverend John Cairns, campaigned to get the meetings abandoned. He was so outspoken against the races that he tried to prevent the revival in 1852, yet a penultimate meeting was staged at Kimmergham Mains on Thursday 2nd May 1861. It was a splendid gathering, with her Grace, the Duchess of Roxburgh in attendance to witness Captain G Suttie’s Vintor win the Berwickshire Steeplechase.The final meeting, organised by the Berwickshire Hunt Committee, took place at Harcase Farm, near Duns, on Wednesday 2nd April 1862 when the Hunt Steeplechase proved to be particularly successful for Donald Campbell who occupied first and second with Flibbertygibbet and Telegraph. The later Scottish Grand National Hunt Steeplechase was won in impressive style by Mr J Usher’s Benvoirlich. In 1939 the Town Council drew up plans for racing to return to the area after a lapse of 77 years, but the project was rejected.
This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Sir David Baird, Sir G H Boswell, Captain Innes
Principal Races

Berwickshire Steeplechase, Berwick Purse of Gold, Berwick Town Plate

April 1686

Berwick Town Plate for £20
Berwick Town Plate for £30
Berwick Smaller Town Plate

Thursday 2nd May 1861
Berwick Harriers Hunt Cup
1. Cahirmee, bay gelding owned by Mr T Calder
2. Brunette, bay mare owned by Captain G Suttie
3. King Arthur, aged horse owned by Mr R Calder

The final meeting, organised by the Berwickshire Hunt Committee, took place at Harcase Farm , near Duns, on Wednesday 2nd April 1862.

Course today Initially on Berwick Common, and then at Kimmergham Mains.
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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