Under starter’s orders on Blackpool’s lost racecourse nearly 120 years ago

editorial image

Some Memory Lane readers may be aware, but many will not have known, there was once a racecourse in the resort many years ago – on the site now occupied by the Squires Gate airport.

There had been discussions about bringing racing to Blackpool as early as 1865, but it did not come to fruition until 1910, when permission was granted for a racecourse.

The first meeting at Clifton Park Racecourse, built on Squires Gate, in South Shore, took place 107 years ago, on August 1, 1911.

The ‘magnificent’ new venue hosted the first “summer steeplechase meetings ever held in England”.

The Gazette reported it was busy on its opening meeting, with crowds of thousands flocking to watch, the likes of which had not been seen since the previous year’s Aviation Carnival.

The Gazette said: “Everywhere one heard about admiration expressed at the thorough manner in which the arrangements had been made, and the facilities provided for the public.

“The bar accommodation was described as wonderful, and the sanitary arrangements as being excellent and good enough for anywhere.

“The bright green and white palisading, the smart buildings, the freshness of the turf and banks of flowering plants, made the paddock and the enclosed lawn pictures of prettiness, while the very stylish costumes of the many ladies present outvieing the Sunday morning parade on the North Pier, made up a scene which was surely without equal in the history of our town.”

Races that first day included the Lonsdale Gold Cup, Fylde Selling Hurdle Race and Walker Gold Cup.

The Gazette reported all the horses took the jumps in surprisingly good style.