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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 15th May 1895
Final meeting: Wednesday 6th May 1914
Racing first took place in the village of Shincliffe, on the River Wear in County Durham, close to Coxhoe on Wednesday 15th May 1895. The meeting was run under the grand title of ‘North Durham and Shincliffe Steeplechases’ on a flat table of land at Shincliffe Bank Top, located about 2 miles from the city of Durham. The ‘History of Durham’ reported that this inaugural meeting was so successful that a public company was formed, the racecourse was enlarged and a permanent grandstand built. A second meeting in the Autumn of 1895 took place on the same mile and a quarter, oval course with a gradual uphill run-in. The course was a haven for miners and hunting men to unwind after long working sessions, although the meeting in May 1912 was abandoned because of a strike by the miners. A meeting did take place in 1913, and a Spring meeting followed on Wednesday 18th March 1914 when dignitaries were entertained by Mr J E Rogerson in his pretty bungalow in the paddock. He was rewarded with a win in the opening race, the Durham Maiden Chase, with his mare Maiden’s Law. The final meeting was staged on Wednesday 6th May 1914, with the feature race, the Shincliffe Handicap Chase, resulting in a walkover. The course closed in 1914, before the outbreak of War, and was taken over by the Ministry of Defence. After the War, when conditions in the mines were unfavourable and miners carried out a number of strikes, the course executives could not afford to reopen it. Well after the War the course was auctioned in 1925, although it was withdrawn prior to being sold and the 105 acres it covered became farmland in ‘old’ Shincliffe, with the new village of High Shincliffe built close by.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Colonel C L Bates, Mr J E Rogerson
Principal Races Shincliffe Handicap Chase, Bowburn Handicap Steeplechase

Wednesday 18th March 1914
Bowburn Handicap Steeplechase over 2 miles
1. Clan-na-Ghael, aged horse owned by Mr W Sanderson
2. Theobald’s Park, 6 year old owned by Major McKiefe
3. LB, 6 year old owned by Mr H Whitworth
Betting: Evens LB, 4/1 Theobald’s Park, 9/2 Clan-na-Ghael

A meeting did take place in 1913 and a rare Ladies members badge is shown above.

With thanks to William Morgan for the images of the Shincliffe track and former grandstand.

The final meeting took place on Wednesday 6th May 1914, with the feature race, the Shincliffe Handicap Chase resulting in a walkover.
Course today

The course closed in 1914, before the outbreak of War and was taken over by the Ministry of Defence. The course was auctioned in 1925 although it was withdrawn prior to it being sold. The 105 acres of the course would become farmland in ‘old’ Shincliffe, with the new village of High Shincliffe built close by.

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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