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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 4th April 1843
Final meeting: Thursday 18th April 1867
Racing first took place in the Durham town of Birtley on Tuesday 4th April 1843. It was the brainchild of Mr Hunt and Mr Manners, who ran the Birtley Iron Company, and the course started near the Red Lion Inn and went towards Urpeth. Racing continued in the area until the final meeting in 1867, caused in the main because of the Team Valley Railway line cutting through the course. The final meeting on Thursday 18th April 1867 was organised in conjunction with the Harriers’ Hunt Committee, and the feature race, the Harriers’ Hunt Cup, went to Mr C Curay’s The Owl.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr Hunt, Mr Manners, Mr Butler
Principal Races Birtley Stakes, Harriers Hunt Cup

Tuesday 4th April 1843

Birtley Stakes
1. Albert owned by Mr Butler
The winner was ridden by Captain Broadley

Thursday 18th April 1867
The Harriers’ Hunt Cup over 3 miles
1. The Owl, bay gelding owned by Mr C Curay
2. Yellow Diamond, chestnut gelding owned by Mr W Miller
3. Sunflower, brown mare owned by Mr F W Richardson

Racing continued in the area until the final meeting in 1867, caused in the main because of the Team valley Railway line cutting through the course.

Course today

The land now is covered by a modern housing estate, Low Urpeth Farm, with Urpeth woods on the outskirts.

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

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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