Horse Racing in Barton upon Humber


It is difficult to believe today, but Barton once held an annual horse racing event which was important and popular enough to be advertised in the local press alongside York, Lincoln and other larger race meetings of the time.  In the early 1800s horse racing was popular throughout the country and, with the exception of Stamford and Lincoln, most of the popular race meetings at this time were in the north of the county.  Regular spring meetings were held at Barton and Caistor in the early nineteenth century1 and the following article will try to discover a little more about this annual Barton event, including details of the actual races and where they were held.

The horse racing events were held in the parish of Barton, usually in March or April, between the years 1810 and 1817, and possibly earlier.  The first advertised race meeting was held on Thursday 28th March 1811, although a race was held the year previous and was recorded in Thomas Weaver’s diary2.  The race meeting of 1811 was listed numerous times in the York Herald from December the previous year.  There were three races held, the first being the Subscription Race which was run over two mile heats, with 70 guineas for the overall winner and all subscribers having to inform Mr John Morley, who was the innkeeper of the George Inn, on the Monday before the day of running.  Subscribers paid one guinea to enter, non-subscribers paid three guineas.  The second race was a sweepstake, again run over two mile heats, with 5 guineas for the winner.  All horses entering this race had to be hunting horses, and a certificate signed by a Huntsman was needed to be eligible.  The third race was the Barton Club Sweepstake again run over two mile heats, with 5 guineas for the winner.  All horses entering this race had to be hunting horses, have a certificate signed by a Huntsman, and be a member of the Barton Club.  Thomas Marris (banker) and William Graburn (attorney) were the course stewards and a note went out that any dog on the course would be shot.  A pony race concluded the day.  It was also reported in the Hull Packet that these races were uncommonly well attended.  This could suggest that the 1810 race meeting may have been the first meeting with few attendees, or that in general this meeting was well attended when compared to other racing events in other towns at this time.  It was reported in the York Herald, however, that “a vast concourse of spectators were drawn together by the novelty of the scene”, suggesting it was a fairly new event to watch in Barton 

The next race meeting was held on Thursday 19th March 1812 and was advertised in the York Herald during January and February that year.  This seems to have been more organised than the previous year, with four races being advertised.  The first race was called the Craven Stakes.  This race awarded ten guineas for the winner but demanded five subscribers or no race would take place.  The second race was called the Subscription Purse.  This race awarded 70 guineas to the overall winner and was run over two mile heats.  All subscribers to both these races had to inform Mr Morley at the George Inn.  Subscribers paid one guinea to enter, non-subscribers paid three guineas.  This race was effectively the Subscription Race from the previous year but renamed.  The third race was called the Marconi Stakes.  This race awarded ten guineas for the winner but demanded ten subscribers or no race would take place.  It was to be over two mile heats, was to be ridden by gentlemen only, and they had to be hunting horses with a signed certificate.  There was no result reported for this race so presumably the ten subscribers were never met.  The fourth race was the Hunters Stakes.  This race awarded five guineas for the winner but demanded ten subscribers or no race would take place.  It was run over two mile heats and all subscribers must be named to Mr Morley at the George Inn on the Monday before the first day of March.  As in the previous year a note went out telling spectators that all dogs on the course will be shot, but in addition no stands or booths were allowed to be erected on the course without prior approval.

The next race meeting was held on Monday 23rd March 1813.  It was advertised in the York Herald only once, on the 20th February 1813.  It advertised the Craven Stakes, the Marconi Stakes and the Hunters Stakes, all with the same criteria as the previous year.  The stewards were E C Holgate esq. and John Grant esq., and this year William Morley was to be the clerk of the course, not John.  This was the only time it appeared in print, and there were no results posted for this race in either the York Herald or the Hull Packet.  Surprisingly though, the results were posted in the Lancashire Gazette on the 10th April 1813.  Two races were completed, the Marconi Stakes and the Hunters Sweepstakes. There were no more details of this race meeting reported.

The race meeting of 1814 was originally scheduled to take place on Thursday 10th March, but had to be postponed until Tuesday 5th April due to the Lincoln Assizes being held on Saturday 12th March.  This race meeting was again advertised in the York Herald throughout January and February of 1814.  It took on the same format as the 1812 race meeting, with the Craven Stakes, the Marconi Stakes, the Hunters Stakes and the Subscription Purse all being advertised to run. But, as in 1812, there was again no result posted for the Marconi Stakes so once more the amount of subscribers was probably not met.  All riders for the first three races had to inform Mr Morley at the George Inn before the 28th day of March, and for the final race by Saturday 2nd April.  Subscribers to the Subscription Purse paid one guinea to enter, non-subscribers paid three guineas.  This year the stewards were Hon Mr G A Pelham and Colonel Elmhurst, and once more the clerk of the course was William Morley.  The winner of each plate, match or sweepstake this year had to pay the clerk of the course one guinea and all booths, stands etc. could be erected upon the payment of 10s 6d to the clerk of the course.

The race meeting of 1815 took place on Tuesday 21st March.  This race meeting was again advertised in the York Herald, once more throughout January and February of 1815.  It took on a similar format to the previous years’ race meeting, with the Craven Stakes again offering ten guineas to the overall winner, and again needing five subscribers before a race could be run.  All subscribers to this race had to inform Mr Morley, at the George Inn, before the 15th day of March.  There were eight subscribers to this race. The Marconi Stakes again offered ten guineas to the overall winner but, presumably to ensure the race ran, only needed five subscribers.  Again the requirement of being ridden by gentlemen plus the extra criteria of the horses being hunting horses was included.  All subscribers to this race had to inform Mr Morley at the George Inn on the 1st day of March.  The Hunters Stakes again offered five guineas to the overall winner, again needing ten subscribers before a race could be run plus the extra criteria of the riders being gentlemen.  This race, however, does not appear to have met its subscriber numbers as there was no result posted for it.  There was a new race which appeared this year called the Barton Sweepstake, which may well have been a modern version of the original Barton Club Sweepstake of 1811.  This race awarded five guineas for the winner but demanded ten subscribers or no race would take place.  It was to be over two mile heats and a certificate of age and qualification were needed.  As in previous years the final race of the day was the Subscription Purse.  This year the race only awarded 50 guineas to the overall winner and was run over two mile heats.  All subscribers to this race had to inform Mr Morley on Saturday 15th March.  Subscribers paid one guinea to enter, non-subscribers paid three guineas.  Once more the clerk of the course was William Morley.  As in 1814, the winner of each plate, match or sweepstake this year had to pay the clerk of the course one guinea and all booths, stands etc. could be erected upon the payment of 10s 6d to the clerk of the course.

The race meeting of 1816 took place on Tuesday 26th March.  This race meeting was again advertised in the York Herald throughout February of 1816.  This race meeting was similar to the one run in 1813, with only three races being advertised.  These were the Craven Stakes, the Marconi Stakes and the Hunters Stakes, all with the same criteria as the previous year.  All subscribers to the Craven Stakes had to notify Mr Morley at the George Inn before the 18th March, and subscribers to the other two races before the 11th March.  The stewards this year were Hon Mr Pelham and W Graburn esq., and once again William Morley was the clerk of the course.  All three races received the minimum number of subscribers.  Once more, the winner of each plate, match or sweepstake this year had to pay the clerk of the course one guinea and all booths, stands etc. could be erected upon the payment of 10s 6d to the clerk of the course.

The race meeting of 1817 took place on Thursday 10th April.  This race meeting was again advertised in the York Herald throughout December of the previous year and March of 1817.  This race meeting had five races planned, although only three actually ran.  There were the usual Craven Stakes, Marconi Stakes and Hunters Stakes, all with the same criteria as the previous year, but there was also the Barton Stakes, which needed five subscribers each paying ten guineas each and run over one and a half mile heats, and a Fifty Pound Plate, which had no subscriber limit and ran over two mile heats.  For the first time Mr John Ingoldby, the innkeeper of the White Swan Inn, was the clerk of the course, and all subscribers to the Craven Stakes, Marconi Stakes, Hunters Stakes and the Barton Stakes had to notify him, at the White Swan Inn, before the 31st March.  Subscribers to the Fifty Pound Plate had to notify him at the same place before the 7th April.  The stewards this year were Wm Richardson esq. and John Nelthorpe esq.  The Marconi Stakes and the Barton Stakes did not reach the required number of subscribers and therefore did not run.  Once more, the winner of each plate, match or sweepstake had to pay the clerk of the course one guinea, but there was no mention of stands or booths.

 

Race Results

Year

Craven Stakes

Marconi Stakes

Hunter Stakes

Subscription Purse

Barton Sweepstake

Others

1810

-

-

-

-

-

Unknown
1-Potatoes

1811

-

-

-

1-Tutelina
2-Ganymede
3-Driver

1-Precipitate
2-Idris

Sweepstake
1-Overtoa
2-Bowlback

1812

1-Rillington
2-Orville
3-Diana

no result

1-Beatus 1:1
2-Waney 2:dr

1-Gilly 1:1
2-Harriet 4:2
3-Orville 3:3

-

-

1813

no result

1-Stamford 1:1
2-Benedict 2:2

1-Spinning Jenny 1:1
2-Benedict 4:2
3-Merry Lad 2:3

-

-

-

1814

1-Tomboy
2-Hector

no result

1-Ingleby Witch   
2-Sourcerer

1-Epperston
2-Delpini
3-Delight

-

-

1815

1-Fita Selum
2-Everilda
3-Pavillion

1-Kexby
2-Robin Adam
3-Alderman

no result

1-Rayman 1:1
2-Dirk Andrews 2:3
3-Miss Cartouch 3:3

1-Truth 2:1:1
2-Idris 1:2:2

-

1816

1-Fita Selum
2-Miss Cauley
3-Lores

1-Pilgrim 3:1:1
2-Pilgrim 2:3:2
3-Idris 1:2:dr

1-Idris 1:1
2-Idris 3:2
3-Brocklesby Watch 2:3

-

-

-

1817

1-Retrieve
2-The Dragon

3-Dewdrop

No result

1-Slender Billy 1:1
2-Merry Lass 3:2
3-Felicity 2:3

 

No result

50 Plate
1-The Dragon
2-Golden Linnett

 

A thorough search of the local papers for a large number of years after this date did not throw up any more advertised races, or any race results, for Barton.  It can be concluded that after 1817 either the races were no longer held, no longer reported on, or were just held for fun 

The above has given us the details of the races, and the results where appropriate, but where could horse racing be held in Barton?  To answer this question a brief look at the history of horse racing is helpful.  The first officially recorded horse race in Britain was 1174 in Smithfield, in the London suburbs.  Throughout the early 18th century it flourished without a real sense of direction.  After Parliament tried to subdue the industry in 1740 it was recognised that it needed an overhaul, and so, in 1752, the Jockey Club was formed, which ironically did not accept Jockeys into its ranks.  It was made up of race course owners, wealthy breeders and aristocracy, and was responsible for the day-to-day regulations applying to British horse racing.  The horse races held at Barton therefore would have had to comply with these rules.  The type of horse race run would determine where a race could be held in Barton.  The three main types of horse races are:-

Flat racing – run by thoroughbreds over short distances, but can be up to two miles.  An organised race would have to strictly follow the Jockey Club rules.

Point-to-point racing (or sometimes known as steeplechase) – This is a form of amateur horse racing over fences for hunting horses.  They must be thoroughbred hunting horses.  The regulations for this form of race state a minimum of three miles distance must be run.  They are often called steeplechase races because the riders would often race from one church steeple to another in the next town 

National Hunt racing – This is another form of amateur horse racing which is similar to point-to-point racing except the horses do not have to be thoroughbred and the distances are shorter.  Early races were a two-horse race, usually cross country, and involved the horse jumping whatever got in its way.  The races could be 1 to 2 miles long over the flat, 2 to 4 miles chase or 2 to 3 miles over hurdles.  For many years, up to around 1860, there were no formal rules for this kind of racing.

Map of racecourse 1855
Fig: 1 The “upside down” map of Barton for 1855, clearly showing the site of the Old Race Course, running roughly underneath where the A15 is today.

The racing distance in Barton was always over two miles, and, apart from the Craven Stakes, usually involved heats where horses raced in a two-horse race.  It would appear that National Hunt racing was the most likely type of race held.  This would suggest that the race could be held anywhere where there was at least two miles of farm land.  Horse racing at this time had noble support, and was usually held outside most towns where commons or marshes offered suitable open country3.  In Barton there was plenty of marsh land available, but this would have been along the banks of the Humber where the brick and tile industry was emerging. This land would not be suitable to run a horse racing event on.  There was a large strip of common land at the south of the parish, however, just to the north of Warren Farm (where Beaumontcote is today), and to the south of Kingsforth, which would have provided a much more suitable venue for a horse race.  It was a long, flat strip of land, running from Black Mould to Middle Gate, and was part of the land that passed to Marmaduke Nelson Graburn after the enclosure.  William Graburn, of course, was one of the first stewards of the race, and at this time he was living at Kingsforth.  The “upside down” map of Barton for 1855 (Fig: 1) has the “site of old Race Course” marked on it, just to the north of the clump of trees, just passed the entrance to Beaumontcote farm, exactly where the strip of common land mentioned above was.  This is almost certainly the site where horse racing was held.  The clump of trees is still there today (Fig: 2), but it is highly likely that the site of the old race course has been destroyed during the construction of the A15.  This site would have been ideal as it offered easy access from Barton via Brigg Road, and also from the outside villages.  It is possible that Brigg Road was the start point of the race, with the stands and booths being erected along here.  The course was probably circular or oval, with the start and finish point being in the same place, affording the spectators a perfect view of the race.

Race Course start
Fig: 2 The clump of trees is roughly where the start of the race course was, the rest probably being destroyed by the A15.

Why did it finish when it did?  With no real evidence we can only speculate.  It seems a coincidence that it only lasted one year after the administration of the race moved from the George Inn to the White Swan.  It is possible that in 1817 John Ingoldby offered to help out, as no one else would, but maybe the workload of arranging the race meeting was too great and no one else was willing to take it up in future years.  We may never know the real reason, but for a few years at least Barton enjoyed some exciting horse racing for the locals to view.

References:-

1)   R. J. Olney - Rural Society and County Government in Nineteenth Century Lincolnshire (Volume X) 1979, p17.
2)
   Information kindly supplied by Lawrence Weaver
3) N. R. Wright - Lincolnshire Towns and Industry 1700-1914 (Volume XI) 1982, p18.
 
Various editions of the
Hull and Lincolnshire Times.
Various editions of the Hull Packet
Various editions of the York Herald
Various editions of the Lancashire Gazette
Various editions of Sporting Magazine

 

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