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Earliest meeting: Thursday 29th August 1811
Final meeting: August 1832
The Cumbrian market town of Keswick lies close to Derwentwater and barely 4 miles from Bassenthwaite. It boasts a rich history, with evidence that the town was occupied in prehistoric times, although the town was not included in the Domesday Book of 1086. Indeed, the first time the town warrants a mention was in the 13th century when granted a market charter by Edward I. The town benefits from the beautiful surrounding countryside and the lakes which are on its doorstep. In the late 18th century the lakes were used for regattas, the first of which was held on Tuesday 28th August 1781 when the races were staged on the ‘Lake of Keswick’ with a prize of 7 Guineas. On the same day a ‘Sweepstake for Swimming Horses’ for one guinea each also took place. Apparently, at the appointed hour all of the entrants were launched into the deep and presumably the horse which made it back to the bank first was the winner. Annual regattas were held for a prolonged period of time, with adverts in the Ware Whitehaven Advertiser and the Cumberland Pacquet shown below, carrying adverts for races on Tuesday 16th September 1783 and Tuesday 6th September 1785 respectively, the latter being held on the ‘Lake of Derwent’ with William Dacre acting as Steward. The next year the regatta was held on Tuesday 15th August 1786 when the Steward was the Earl of Surrey.  However, apart from the aforementioned swimming race for horses, horse racing did not take place in the town until the early years of the 19th century.

This racecourse is not covered in any of the 4 Volumes of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. The reason is that the races were never wholly for thoroughbreds, with the programme often including Ass races, Country horse races, Foot Races and wrestling. However, ordering details are shown below.
Local Patrons Earl of Surrey, William Dacre
Principal Races Keswick £10 Purse, Keswick £50 Match

The extract below is shown courtesy of Ware's Whitehaven Advertiser

The extract below is shown courtesy of the Cumberland Pacquet.

On Thursday 29th and Friday 30th August 1811 a two day meeting was held on the Keswick Raceground, featuring a variety of races for horses. The programme on the opening day comprised of a £50 Match, a £10 Purse and an Ass Race, while on Friday 30th August 1811 the day began with a £50 Match, and was followed by a £10 Purse over 3 miles, and a Consolation Race for £5 for previously defeated horses. Furthermore, on each day there was a Saddle & Bridle race for country horses, a foot race and wrestling. Entries for all races were made at the George Inn in Keswick, and although no horse race results were published, the regatta was won by Mr Atkinson who, at the time, was the Postmaster of Keswick.

The two day meeting on Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd August 1815 featured a £50 Match and a £10 Purse on the first day, with similar races on day 2, as well as a £5 Consolation race. As usual, Saddle and Bridle races for country horses were included each day, as were foot races and wrestling. The regatta seemed to be more of a sideshow, being run at 10am on Wednesday prior to the horse races. Although newspapers were keen to advertise the races, earning themselves revenue, they were quite shy about reporting the results.

An advertisement card still remains to this day from the Keswick 1828 meeting and is shown below courtesy of David Rice.

On Thursday 11th September 1828 the Wrestling took place on Crow Park, resulting in a £5 win for Wilfrid Wright. On the second day there was another wrestling competition when the principal prize was won by John McLaughlin, who had previously won a similar competition at Workington races. A Water Race for teams of 4 provided great amusement, with a member of the victorious team being a chimney sweep, who appeared to be no cleaner when he came out of the water as when he went in. The races were deemed to be successful, so much so that Colonel Pocklington and J Pocklington, both of Barrow House, collected liberal subscriptions for the next years races. Later the Stewards all attended Theatre on Saturday evening.
Thursday 11th September 1828
Keswick 3 Sovereign Sweepstake (15 sovereigns added)

1. Mansfield Lass, 3 year old bay mare owned by Mr Hodgson
2. Yenworth Lassie, 5 year old bay mare owned by Mr Dennison
3. Barnaby, 4 year old chestnut colt owned by Mr Pybus

Friday 12th September 1828
Keswick 10 Sovereigns Purse

1. Yenworth Lassie, bay mare owned by Mr Dennison
2. Dusty, chestnut mare owned by Mr Pattison
3. Violet, bay mare owned by Mr Watson

Keswick 5 Sovereigns Consolation Race
1. Dusty, chestnut mare owned by Mr Pattison
2. Unnamed bay mare owned by Mr Shipley
3. Violet, bay mare owned by Mr Watson

The concluding Donkey Race was won by Jennie Gray owned by Mr Hodgson.

The final meeting took place in August 1832, although a meeting was planned for the next year. However, the 1833 newspapers reported, ‘The annual races and regatta at Keswick, which have always taken place at Crow Park, beautifully situated next to the Derwent Lake, making it an ideal location for racegoers to view both horse and boat races, have this year subjected the promoters to much difficulty and unpleasantness’. The ground was sold to John Marshall, of Halsteads, and he refused permission for his land to be used for the event. This was particularly galling for inhabitants of Keswick who, in 1811 when the ground belonged to Greenwich Hospital Company, expended a large sum of public money to form a racecourse.

The final meeting took place on August 1832.

Course today, shown courtesy of Google.

The raceground at Keswick, was on Crow Park close to the site of the regatta on Derwent Lake, so that the crowds could enjoy both events.
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

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