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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 1st October 1754
Final meeting: Monday 4th April 1904
The historic town of Colchester in Essex first held races as early as Tuesday 1st October 1754, although racing at that time consisted mainly of matches. Colchester lays claims to being the oldest town in Britain and was, for some time, the capital of Roman Britain when known as Camulodunum. It also boasts an impressive 11th Century Castle with a Norman keep. Races became more regular and more widely reported in the middle of the 19th century on a racecourse built for the use of the military on Middlewick Farm, despite the land being owned by the Government. The course consisted of 6 fences and a brook to act as a water jump, but also provided the comfort of a grandstand for ease of viewing the proceedings. In 1889 the meeting was relocated to Reed Hall, about a mile and a half from the Railway Station. The left-handed course had a circumference of a mile and a half but was prone to heavy going when it rained. Nevertheless, racing continued at the venue for 15 years before the final meeting on Monday 4th April 1904.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Captain Vernon, Mr C de Crespigny, Mr Catling

Principal Races

Middlewick Cup, East Essex Hunt Cup, King’s Dragoon Cup

Tuesday 1st - Wednesday 2nd October 1754

Tuesday 1st October 1754 Colchester Fifty Pounds Purse
1. Mother Prat owned by Mr Wanley
2. Chance owned by Captain Vernon
3. Sparkler owned by Mr Richard Roan
4. Basto owned by Mr William Croft

Wednesday 2nd October 1754 Colchester Hunters Stakes
1. Mahumet owned by Mr Blake
2. Venture owned by Mr Libbis
3. Driver owned by Mr Clark

Tuesday 24th - Thursday 26th June 1755

Tuesday 24th June 1755 Colchester Fifty Pounds Purse
1. Daizey owned by Mr Purcivall
2. Chance owned by Captain Vernon
3. Rose owned by Mr Martin
4. Chance owned by Mr Shawe
5. Frolick owned by Mr Bishop

Wednesday 25th June 1755 Ladies Give and Take Purse
1. Cade owned by Captain Vernon
2. Dart owned by Mr Palmer
3. Ragged Arse owned by Mr Price

Thursday 26th June 1755 Fifty Pounds Hunters Purse
1. Nimrod owned by Mr Burlton
2. Bounce owned by Mr Leath
3. Favourite owned by Mr Bootbby
4. Tartar owned by Mr Wilcox
5. Badsticks owned by Mr Maskill
6. Chance owned by Mr Libbis
7. Miss Partner owned by Mr Robinson

Monday 6th April 1862
Colchester Garrison Stakes
1. The Sexton, aged horse owned by Mr J B Whitas
2. Goliath, aged horse owned by Captain Torrens
3. Colleen Bawn, aged horse owned by Captain Goodwin

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

The final meeting took place on Monday 4th April 1904.
Course today

The course closed because the ground was owned by the Government and they required the land for use by the Army.

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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