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Earliest meeting: Monday 21st May 1866
Final meeting: Wednesday 7th June 1881
The large town of Spennymoor, in the Wear Valley in County Durham, lies 7 miles south of the city of Durham. In the latter part of the 19th century it had its own racecourse which first opened for racing with a 2 day meeting on Whit Monday and Tuesday 21st and 22nd May 1866. The course was situated in Whitworth Park, in the grounds of Whitworth Hall which dates back to 1183, and was owned by the Shafto family for over 300 years. The area was made famous by the Durham MP Bobby Shafto, who was the character for whom the ballad Bonnie Bobby Shafto was written. Meetings continued at the course throughout the next 15 years until a final card was staged on Wednesday 7th June 1881. After this date meetings still continued well into the 20th century, but were run under the British Racing Club Rules. Today the site has been turned into a hotel, with the park remaining as a deer park and famous walled garden.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Bobby Shafto, Joseph Meynall (Steward)
Principal Races Spennymoor Steeplechase, Flying Stakes

Monday 20th May 1872
Spennymoor Steeplechase over 3 miles
1. Partridge, 4 year old owned by Mr Coates and ridden by Swainston
2. Maid of the Morning, aged horse owned by Mr Backhouse
Betting: 4/5 Partridge, Evens Maid of the Morning

The final meeting took place on Wednesday 7th June 1881.
Course today On Whitworth Park near to Whitworth Hall.
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 johnwslusar@gmail.com

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

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing johnwslusar@gmail.com stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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