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Earliest meeting: Friday 6th May 1608
Final meeting: Friday 9th August 1907
Racing first took place in the Scottish town of Paisley, a large town which developed around its abbey, in 1608 when records indicate that ‘a silver bell of 4 oz weight be made for a horse race yearly to be appointed within this burgh and the bounds on a day for running thereof to be set down by the Earl of Abercorn’.Those early races were the brainchild of Lord Paisley and the Earl of Abercorn, and whilst it is speculation that the inaugural race was held on Friday 6th May 1608, the Town Council, who purchased the silver bell, specified in 1620 that the race should be held each 6th May. Racing almost certainly continued at Paisley annually, coinciding with Paisley Fair, on a course at Underwood which was always popular and well supported until 1827.  Racing then transferred to a new course at St James Park on an unusual square shaped course of a mile and 25 yards, with a 6 furlongs straight course for sprints and two year old races. The first time detailed records became available was a two day meeting from Friday 12th August to Saturday 13th August 1836, opening with the Burgh Member’s Plate over two miles and the distance which was won by Mr W R Ramsay’s Forester. The Hunters’ Stakes went to Mr A Cunningham’s Approval, while the Glasgow Subscription Cup was also won by Forester. The meeting on Thursday 30th and Friday 31st August 1849 was not remembered for Alp’s double in the Paisley Cup and Glasgow Cup, but for the riots which followed afterwards, leaving many injured and stallholders devoid of their stock. Nevertheless, the meeting still went ahead the next year on Thursday 29th and Friday 30th August 1850, the Glasgow Cup going to Mr J Brown’s Haricot and the Paisley Cup to Mr Thrift’s John Dory. By the start of the 20th century the course was in a dangerous state and facilities left something to be desired, although the management were reluctant to let the meeting wither, but even more reluctant to invest, leading to the final meeting being staged on Friday 9th August 1907.

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

Lord Paisley, Earl of Abercorn, Honorable Archibald Hastie

Principal Races Paisley Silver Bell, St Leger, Glasgow Cup, Paisley Cup, The Aftershots

Saturday 13th August 1836
The Paisley Subscription Cup over 1 ¼ miles
1. Cistercian, bay gelding owned by Mr Smellie
2. Little-Go, bay mare owned by Mr W Alexander
3. Figaro, bay mare owned by Mr Ibbetson
4. Wizard, grey colt owned by Lord Eglinton

Thursday 16th August & Friday 17th August 1838

Paisley St Leger over 4 miles
1. Unnamed filly by Actaeon owned by Lord Kelburne
2. The Lady Sophia owned by Mr C Alexander

The Glasgow Cup over 2 miles
1. Bella owned by Sir J Boswell

Paisley Silver Bells over 2 miles
1. The Potentate owned by Lord Eglinton
2. Abraham Newland owned by Mr Fairlie
3. Unnamed filly by Actaeon owned by Lord Kelburne

Whyte records the 1839 races

Paisley St Leger for 3 year olds over a mile and 6 furlongs;
Archibal Hastie Members’ Plate over 2 miles;
Glasgow Cup over 2 miles;
Paisley Cup over a mile;
Paisley Silver Bells over 2 miles;
Glasgow Plate over a mile;
The Aftershots over a mile;

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

The final meeting took place on Friday 9th August 1907.
Course today Initially at Underwood and then on a square shaped course of just over a mile at St James Park.
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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