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Earliest meeting: Monday 8th October 1832
Final meeting: Monday 7th October 1878
The North East town of Houghton le Spring lies in Tyne and Wear, but back in the middle of the 19th century it was in the county of Durham. It is situated 11 kilometres from Durham and 10 kilometres from Sunderland and had its own racecourse for a prolonged period starting in 1832. At the inaugural 2 day meeting on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th October 1832 there were two full days of racing followed by a dance at Mr Robert Bink’s Queen’s Head Inn.  It proved to be a more popular venue than nearby Gateshead, and continued to host racing under rules for a further 46 years. A three day meeting was held from Monday 10th to Wednesday 12th October 1864 when the opening Houghton Stakes over 1 ½ miles on day one was won by Betsy. The later Handicap over a mile saw Mr Boyce’s Little Lady get the better of Consett Boy and Lady Douglass. The following day the Sweepstakes was won by Mr J Colpitt’s The Leader, and on the concluding day the Licensed Victualler’s Stakes went to Lady Butterwick for Mr Tyndall. Races continued to be organised as part of the annual feast celebrations until Monday 7th October 1878 when tragedy struck. The crowded grandstand collapsed injuring 20 spectators, of which 6 were seriously hurt. Races continued to be staged outside the rules of racing after the event, but were more low key affairs.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr Arthur Birks, Mr W Harrison, Mr W Jarston (Stewards)
Principal Races

Houghton Stakes, Licensed Victualler’s Stakes, Houghton Sweepstakes

Monday 10th October 1864
Houghton Stakes over 1 ½ miles
1. Betsy, aged mare owned by Mr Harrison
2. The Leader, aged horse owned by Mr J Colpitt
3. Maid of Consett, aged mare owned by Mr Rawe

The final meeting took place on Monday 7th October 1878.
Course today On fields within walking distance of the town.
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

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 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.
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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