A History of Horse Racing in the Birmingham Region

A day at the races is a chance for many people to dress up in their glad rags, enjoy a glass of wine, and have a flutter on the horses. For some, it’s a social event with friends – a stag party or office wind-up party.

For other people, horses are a passion, and the thrill of race day – the crowds and the atmosphere, add a sense of colour and vitality to that indulgence.

Many are unaware of the rich depth of history that horse racing enjoys in the Birmingham region, with its regional origins tracing back to the middle of the 19th century.

Horse racing in the Midlands

These days, horse racing can be enjoyed to its fullest, with all its traditional excitement and pageantry at Wolverhampton Racecourse, situated approximately 40 minutes travel time outside of Birmingham. Set in over 20 acres of parkland, the racecourse is one of the busiest tracks in Britain and enjoys a history as the first floodlit racing track in the UK.

Warwick, Worcester, and Stratford-on-Avon Racecourses also lie within an hour’s drive of Birmingham, and they sport facilities which make them suitable for families as well as private and corporate events and occasions.

For those who can’t make the trip to the racecourse, there is always experience racing UK online where it is possible to keep up with all the regional events throughout the year.

The Bromford Bridge racecourse

For the history buffs, it may be of interest to learn that racing in the heart of Birmingham had its formal origins with the establishment of the Bromford Bridge racecourse in Castle Bromwich. Opening in 1894 under the official name of Birmingham Racecourse, the track was typically referred to as Bromford, after the name of the station on the Birmingham to Derby railway, where racegoers alighted the trains on race days.

The two world wars saw elements of the racecourse complex taken over for other means – the racecourse buildings were pressed into use as aircrew billets for the Castle Bromwich aerodrome in the First World War. During the Second World War, the racecourse then saw further ‘active service’ as a prisoner-of-war facility.

The old racecourse retained its popularity as the local horse racing venue in the post-war years until the late 1950s. The advent of mass usage of motor vehicles meant more people were making the trip to the surrounding courses at Warwick and Stratford-On-Avon, and the popularity of the local Bromford Bridge course gradually dwindled.

The final race meeting at the old track was held in 1965, whereupon the land was sold to the Birmingham City Council for development as the Bromford housing estate.

Horses for courses

Although Birmingham officially bade horse racing farewell in the mid-1960s, the old red and white winning post survived in a children’s playground on Bromford Drive.

And of course, all the traditional thrills of race day are still there waiting to be enjoyed by both old and young alike, just a drive away from the heart of Birmingham.