Southwell Racecourse History

In the middle of the 19th century pony racing was staged on a regular basis at Southwell, notably on 15th June 1848 when the card consisted of a Pony Race, a Hurdle Race and a Flat Race, with entries made at the White Swan in Southwell. The very next year, on 31st May 1849, the card began with a Pony Race which was won by Mr John Bucklow’s brown pony Telegraph Polly. As the century progressed the cards began to contain more races for thoroughbreds, as indicated by the results shown below of the meeting held on Friday 20th June 1851, provided courtesy of the Nottingham Review and British Library Online. Regular meetings were taking place in the vicinity of Southwell Minster by 1883, and three years later the Southwell Race Company was formed and a grandstand completed on the old course. However, after a meeting on 17th October 1897 the racing licence was not renewed because the track was judged to be unsafe, and the search for a new venue began. That new venue was in the village of Rolleston, on the outskirts of the town, with the first meeting staged on Monday 16th May 1898. Full details of that inaugural meeting are shown below courtesy of the Sporting Life Tuesday 17th May 1898. Although the course closed during each of the World Wars, after the War had ended racing returned and a new grandstand was completed in 1965, with a hurdles track, complete with new watering system, opening 3 years later. The big change came in 1989 when Britain’s first all-weather National Hunt track held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday 1st November 1989, with a Flat meeting on the same surface just one week later. Although National Hunt racing was ditched after a short time due to safety concerns, Flat racing has gone from strength to strength. Currently the course hosts 51 fixtures annually.

Southwell continues to thrive today, whereas nearby Newark closed its gates for the final time in 1884.

The East Midlands market town of Newark, on the River Trent in Nottinghamshire, first held races as early as 1755 when, on the opening day, a large field of 11 contested the £50 Plate over 4 miles. This was unusual at this time in history because the norm was for matches between just 2 individuals. However, the owners of the first 3 home conformed to the norm being two Lords and a Duke. The 1767 meeting proved to be a Duke of Kingston benefit meeting, for he won the Purse on Tuesday 13th October with Javelin, and on Thursday 15th October his colt Credit won the Fillies race having already won at Lincoln and Nottingham earlier in the year. Much later there was a spell of racing in the 1840s, some of which was not particularly successful and of low quality, but by 1866 the quality was much improved. On Thursday 31st May the Innkeeper’s Stakes went to The Turner and the Newark Stakes to Neroli. The course, a mile to the north of the town, ran alongside the Great North Road and was flat with a long, straight run-in. The final meeting took place on Thursday 17th April 1884.

Tuesday 7th October 1755
Newark £50 Purse for 4 year olds over 2 miles
1. Brutus, bay colt owned by Lord Northumberland
2. Fop, bay gelding owned by Lord William Manners
3. Crispin, chestnut colt owned by the Duke of Ancaster

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the 1840 map shown below.
1933 Gents 1934 Gents 1935 Ladies 1935 Gents 1936 Ladies
A full card of thoroughbred races took place on Thursday 12th June 1851 with details shown below courtesy of the Nottingham Review.
The inaugural meeting at the present day course in Rolleston took place on Monday 16th May 1898 with newspaper comments shown below courtesy of the Sporting Life and British Library Online.
The rare 1927 handbill shown below is provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.
1976 Member 1977 Gents 1977 Ladies 1978 Gents 1979 Gents
The rare 1962 handbill shown below is provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.
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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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