HAWTHORN HILL RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Monday 16th April 1888
Final meeting: Tuesday 4th April 1939

The Hawthorn Hill racecourse was situated between Maidenhead and Windsor, close to the village of Hawthorn Hill, and first raced on Monday 16th April 1888. The meetings were the brainchild of Mr F Headington who first established the idea of races in 1887. He had the energy, drive and commitment to make them happen and acted as secretary, treasurer, stake-holder in the course and Clerk of the Course. He had realised the potential of using supporters of the Royal Buckhounds to instigate steeplechases and had mooted the idea to the Earl of Coventry that it would be beneficial to landowners if their land was used to race over. The course was set out on Redstone Farm, with a temporary grandstand transported from Egham, and the race committee had some very influential Stewards, including Lord Charles Beresford and Sir Reginald Cathcart. The day consisted of 6 races for hunters belonging to farmers who allowed their land to be run over by the Queen’s Hounds; the course being nicknamed ‘Young Ascot’. The inaugural meeting was such a success that it was followed in 1889 by a programme with 6 races contested by horses of some renown. These included Billy Pepper and Orrone, both owned by Mr Headington, Binfield owned by Mr Apthorp and Water Wagtail owned by Captain Crawley. By 1890 the Household Brigade had appreciated the set-up at Hawthorn Hill and decided to hold their Regimental Steeplechases at the track, the 12th Lancers and Royal Horse Guards both enjoying success at the meeting. Although at first some questioned the sense in building a racecourse amongst the fields, Redstone Farm, under the guidance of Sir Robert Wilmore, developed through the years and he ensured that facilities improved year on year. At its height the course was hosting 8 meetings each year, including in March the First Two Day Spring meeting, in April the Household Brigade two day meeting, in May the Hunt and Spring Meetings, whilst in October there was the two day Autumn Meeting. During the War a two day meeting was staged on Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th April 1914 but the course then closed for the majority of the War, not reopening until April 1921. After all, the Royal Household Guards were otherwise engaged attending to the War. The final meeting took place on Tuesday 4th April 1939, although pony racing continued to be staged through to 1949.
This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr F Headington, Lord Charles Beresford, Sir Robert Wilmore, Royal Horse Guards, 12th Lancers
Principal Races

HB Hunters Challenge Cup, Open Military Steeplechase

20th April 1893

Open Military Steeplechase
1. Correze ridden by Sir Claude Champion De Crespigny
2. Mazzard owned by Lord Tullibardine
3. Willoughby owned by Mr Tilney

The final meeting took place on 4th April 1939, although pony racing took place in 1949 and a badge is shown below.

Request for information or photos

Nigel Marsh writes ‘I am researching my late grandfather Elias Marsh and his son Ramsey (1923-1985) who used to act as a bookmaker at Hawthorn Hill.’
Elias was a miner from county Durham who ran a book taking bets with his workmates. Apparently he and one of his brothers, Joseph, walked to the south of England at around the time of the Jarrow marches. Joseph ended up in Oxford and Elias in Slough in about 1936 and became a turf accountant. He had his first office  at 15-17 Wellington St. Slough in the post war years. He used the business name Fred Marsh & son Turf accountants.
An uncle, who at over eighty is the last surviving member of my mother’s generation of her family, first told me that Elias and Ramsey used to take bets at Hawthorn Hill racecourse at the pony races were held there. I think this was in the post war period I am trying to find out if any photographs which may be relevant to the racecourse at this time and any applicable information.
Does anyone remember betting with Fred Marsh or Ramsey Marsh, or have you any photos of Hawthorn Hill racecourse, particularly ones showing the betting ring? If so then contact johnwslusar@gmail.com or nigelmarsh@hotmail.com

Course today On Redstone Farm in Hawthorn Hill.
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 johnwslusar@gmail.com

The front cover/ principal races from this rare racecard are provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

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

1903 1905 1905 1909
1917
1920 1922 1924 1925
1925 1926 1926 1927
1927 1928 1928 1929
1930 1930 1931 1931
1933 1936 1937 1939
   
1947 1949    

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 johnwslusar@gmail.com 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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