Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The UK’s Only ‘Straight Mile’ (NZ605242)

Horseracing in Redcar goes back a good deal further than the relatively short life-span of its current racecourse. Races took place on Redcar Beach at least as early as the beginning of the 1700s – and continued to be held there until the 1870s, when new Jockey Club rules meant that ‘public entrance fees’ were to be introduced. This necessitated the construction of the current affair near the town centre, which was opened in 1872.

The new racecourse was built to comply strictly with the ‘new regulations’: fences for hurdles, a parade ring, a proper drainage system, etc. In 1875, a permanent Grandstand and Steward’s Stand were added, reportedly described as ‘second to none in the kingdom’. A second stand and stables were built in 1877, by which time we have early mention of the lauded ‘Straight Mile’ in a complimentary press report.

During WWI and WWII the young course was largely abused by the military (with good reason, you might say), and left in a sad state come 1946. Thanks largely to Major Leslie Petch (Manager from 1946 to 1971) and his dedicated team, Redcar’s premier sporting venue was thereafter revitalised with a series of improvement schemes and innovations. Astonishingly, it was the first course in the country to have CCTV, a timing clock and furlong posts. The current ‘new’ Grandstand was added in 1964.

The modern-day course is an elongated oval of just over 1mile 4furlongs, with tight bends. There is also a 3furlong ‘chute’ that joins the track where the southern-most bend meets the straight, providing a 1mile straight course, supposedly the only 'Straight Mile' in the UK that is both straight and level.

Get into genealogy...

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