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The small County Durham village of Witton Gilbert (Whitton), on the River Browney, is located about 6 kilometres north-west of the city of Durham. It benefits from Beaurepaire Park, which is part of the Prior of Durham’s Park, and at one time had its own railway station on the Lanchester Valley Line, although like many at the time it was closed in the 1960s. The village boasts a rich history dating back to the Bronze Age and, although Witton Gilbert is a medieval village from Saxon times, there was a Roman settlement at Crookton in the vicinity of the village. In the middle of the 13th century Beau Repaire Manor House was built and acted as a retreat for the monks and priors of Durham Cathedral.

Local Patrons Mr Peter Stephenson, Mrs Anne Smith
Principal Races Witton Plate, Witton 3 Guineas Give & Take
This racecourse is not covered in any of the volumes of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.

There is evidence that the village held its own races in the late 1730s on Charlaw Common, with a two day meeting staged on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th October 1739. Although detailed results from the meeting have not survived, an advertisement from the Newcastle Courant gave details about the races. Today some of Charlaw Common is covered by Charlaw Terrace, whilst another other part of it is given over to Charlaw allotments.

The extract below is shown courtesy of the Newcastle Courant Saturday 29th September 1739 and the British Library online.

The final meeting took place on Wednesday 10th October 1739
Course today The common land is coveered by a housing estate and allotments.
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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Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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