KERSAL MOOR RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: May 1681
Final meeting: Friday 5th June 1846
The first recorded meeting in the Manchester area of Kersal Moor was in 1681, sited on a course near to the modern city of Salford. Further evidence of horse-racing on Kersal Moor (Carsall Moore) was contained in the following notice in the London Gazette of 2nd to 5th May 1687:- ‘On Carsall Moore near Manchester in Lancashire on the 18th instant, a £20 plate will be run for horses to carry ten stone and ride three heats, four miles each heat. And the next day another plate of £40 will be run for at the same Moore, riding the same heats and carrying the same weight. The horses’ marks are to be given in four days before to Mr. William Swarbrick at the King's Arms in Manchester’. Nearby Barlow Moor had first witnessed racing in 1647 and for a four year period, from 1697 until 1701, the Kersal meeting transferred to Barlow Moor before reverting back to Kersal Moor.  However, such was the strength of growing opposition against horse racing from local church leaders, especially John Byrom who owned Salford’s second oldest building called Kersal Cell, that racing ceased from 1745 for 15 years, but returned in 1760 when landed gentry ‘got their act together again’. Once racing did return to Kersal Moor the Lancashire Journal of June 1739 described in full detail the variety of races on a typical card:- The Ladies Purse of £30 on Wednesday 13th June, for any horse, mare or gelding not exceeding 6 years old, six year olds to carry 10 stone, but 5 year olds and under to carry 9st 3 lbs, including saddle and bridle. The entrance fee was set at one and a half Guineas. The Vintners’ and Innkeepers’ Purse of £20 on Thursday 14th June, for galloways not exceeding 14 hands high, carrying 9 stone, saddle and bridle included. All under 14 hands high were to be allowed weight for inches, and the entrance fee was set at one Guinea. The Purse of £50 on Friday 15th June, for any horse to carry 10 stone, saddle and bridle included, with an entrance fee set at two and a half Guineas. Although racing on the Moor was well attended, there were precious few creature comforts until the first grandstand was built in 1819. The building was so flimsy that in 1825 the rails broke and a large number of people were injured. Racing was generally of a good standard, but reached new heights in 1826 when two past St Leger winners contested separate races. The 1823 St Leger winner Barefoot, ridden by Tom Goodisson, won a race on Kersal Moor in 1826, while the 1825 St Leger winner Memnon, ridden by Bill Scott, was made the 1/10 favourite, but was surprisingly defeated by Signorina. Up until 1827 Kersal Moor was seen as the main Manchester racecourse, but the second Earl of Wilton decided to build his own racecourse on Heaton Park where he resided. The meeting was primarily for his family and friends, but the locals turned up in their droves at the inaugural meeting held on Tuesday 25th September 1827. Despite the new, exciting venue, racing continued on Kersal Moor until the four day meeting from Tuesday 2nd to Friday 5th June 1846, after which the owners of Kersal Moor, Miss Atherton and Colonel Clowes, announced in October 1846 that they would not be renewing the lease to allow racing to continue on the Moor.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.

Patrons Sir Williams Wynn Williams
Principal races Manchester 2 mile Purse, Manchester £30 Purse
The map shown below is of the racecourse in 1848, a roughly oval-shaped course extending around the west, north and east of the moor, crossing Moor Lane. Today the ground that is the home of the local football team, Salford City FC, roughly following the line of what is now Nevile Road.
Saturday 6th September 1732 Manchester £30 Purse
1. Spot owned by Mr Williams Wynn
2. Emma owned by Mr Bright
3. Wanton Willy owned by Lord W Hamilton
4. Farewell owned by Mr Jackson
11th to 13th August 1762 Manchester 2 mile Purse
Spinner owned by Honorable J S Barry
Camilla owned by Mr Coatesworth
Northern Jockey owned by Mr Coulson

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

The final meeting took place on Friday 5th June 1846.
Course today

Today part of the course can still be seen as a wide, well-worn path stretching from east to west along the northern side of the moor.

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.
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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    
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Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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