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Earliest meeting: Monday 9th June 1851
Final meeting: Tuesday 1st June 1852
Once a town in Kent, Erith is now a district of South East London adjacent to the River Thames, with Bexleyheath to the south west and Dartford to the south east. As a town it held its own races as part of the annual fair on Lessness Heath under the guidance of Lord Say and Sele, but the races were minor affairs often involving galloways or hacks. However, at a meeting in May 1851 it was decided to organise a meeting under rules, and this took place on Monday 9th June 1851 when the feature race, the Erith Purse, was sponsored by the Royal Yacht Club. It was a splendid day of racing with the crowd boosted by so many members of the Royal London Yacht Club who added to the show by decorating their craft in holiday attire. The opening Hack Purse was won by Mr T W Smith’s Fugitive who beat Fawn and Interpleader. The feature race, the Royal London Yacht Club Stakes, was won by Mr Drew’s Lady Frances, while the concluding Hurdle Sweepstakes saw Beggar Boy beat Fiddlestrings to claim victory for Mr John Warrall. A second and final meeting was staged on Tuesday 1st June 1852.

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

Lord Say and Sele, Louis Soames, Mr James Goodson, Mr William Fradgley (Stewards)

Principal Races Erith Purse, Royal London Yacht Club Stakes, Erith Hurdle

Monday 9th June 1851
Royal London Yacht Club Stakes twice round
1. Lady Frances, aged mare owned by Mr Drew
2. New Forest Doe, aged mare owned by Mr McDonald
3. Fugitive, aged horse owned by Mr T H Smith

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 1st June 1852.
Course today Traditionally on Lessness Heath.
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.
Download an order form
  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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