MANSELTON RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Monday 11th April 1887
Final meeting: Thursday 18th October 1888
Today Manselton is a suburban area of the city of Swansea, but back in the latter part of the 19th century it was a town in its own right. Swansea had its own popular, flourishing racecourse, but such was the desire for another successful, sustainable meeting in the Swansea area that businessmen planned a super meeting for Easter Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th April 1887. This was a meeting to be held under National Hunt rules, situated on a closed course at Manselton with races over 2 miles plus. The course was financed by a rather gullible Richard Mansel Mansel, but was the brainchild of his financial agent Arthur Burr. Richard had inherited a fortune when his father died in 1878, but in the will he was granted ‘tenancy for life’ which meant he could benefit from the estate but not sell it. Burr saw that the best way of maximising this predicament was to build a hotel and enclosed racecourse, modelling it on the Park courses of England like Kempton and Sandown, so benefitting from the potential profit that each of the ventures would make. The racecourse, a mile and a half around, was enclosed with 32 turnstiles to welcome paying punters through the gates. It was planned to be a huge inaugural meeting with well over 50000 people expected to attend. A brand new grandstand was erected to hold over 2000 people. The first meeting opened with the South Wales Selling Chase which was won by Ulster Chief owned by Mr Owen, while the Hunters’ Steeplechase went to Tom King owned by Mr Olive. The management were forward thinking, offering to return rail fares and Irish Boat fares to all owners of horses entered in the races; offering stabling for up to 50 horses, and ensuring that a working telegraph office operated in the grandstand on race days. For all the hype proclaiming the 'super meeting', and the success of the first meeting, the momentum could not be sustained. Whilst a further meeting took place on August Bank holiday 1887, the writing started to appear on the wall by Christmas of that first year. Further meetings were held on Monday 1st August and Monday 26th December 1887, when the crowd was disappointing, the gate take low and the associated Swansea Race Ball had to be cancelled. The venture proved too costly despite the gate receipts and revenue from stallholders. The final meeting took place on Thursday 18th October 1888.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Richard Mansel Mansel, Athur Burr, General Watson, Mr Hope, Mr Olive

Principal Races Manselton Handicap Hurdle, Banking Steeplechase

Tuesday 12th April 1887
Swansea and South Wales Hunters’ Steeplechase over 2 miles
1. Young Glasgow, 6 year old owned by Mr Hope
2. St David, 6 year old owned by General Watson
3. Ulster Chief, aged horse owned by Mr M Davies
Betting: 4/6 Young Glasgow, 2/1 Ulster Chief, 3/1 Skittles

The final meeting took place on Thursday 18th October 1888.
Course today An all turf course a mile from the railway station.
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.
ORDER FORM
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  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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Email order form to johnwslusar@gmail.com