Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln’

The Lincoln Grandstand is a proud building. Standing alone, it’s a time capsule. There’s no real reason for it being there – it’s used as a centre of the community, but there are probably more suitable venues.

No. The Lincoln Grandstand is a monument to history. Simply, it stands to tell us what once was. We look at it and we can imagine the cheering. We look beyond it and we can imagine the gentle rumble of the horses, charging from afar. It is a snapshot of time.

There will be few in the Lincoln area that has a greater interaction with the building these days than Duncan Hall. As the Warden of the West Common in which the Grandstand guards so fiercely, he works in and around the building everyday. Typically, he’s grown an attachment to the Lincoln folly: “Having worked in the area I’ve obviously got an affinity with the place and I’ve become quite proud of the building, regardless of what state it’s in. It’s a definitive feature, and it gives the Common plenty of character.”

Indeed, Hall is quick to point out the legacy that the Grandstand provides: “It gives us memories of the past, which I think is good,” says Hall. “You know, you see the children using the building and they probably have no idea about its former uses, or about the hundreds of stories that the building undoubtedly holds. The crowds, the excitement – all the highs and lows that people must have had there are all wrapped up in that one building. It might not seem like it just standing there next to the road, but it represents a big part of Lincoln’s heritage, and I for one am immensely proud of it.”

Nowadays, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Grandstand lies dormant. Unused and unloved, the barriers that litter the steps show a derelict monument. “Obviously, from afar, when you view it with the fences up against the stand, it looks almost derelict, but the truth is, the actual building is in decent condition,” says Hall. “It’s unfortunate that the back of the grandstand faces away from the road, because that still looks absolutely fantastic.”

Obviously, having worked around the area for so long, Hall is keen for the Grandstand to be restored: “It would be great to see it restored to its former glory, though. I’d love to see it with the crowds cheering again, and the horses charging past. It is, after all, what it was intended for.”

Certainly, the return of horse-racing would bring a rejuvenation of the area’s sporting legacy and immense excitement to the city of Lincoln.

However, the Grandstand is currently being used as a community centre, providing a home for numerous clubs, groups and societies. It’s something that Hall hasn’t missed, and he thinks that it’s new role is important for the local area: “I think as it is now, the Grandstand is playing a role in the community. The same goes for the Common in general, which is a great place for people to walk, to come and play sports. As a space, it’s a really good thing for Lincoln to have.”

So with renewed talks of a return of horse-racing to the area and a renovation of the Grandstand, how does Hall feel about the potential loss of a valuable community centre? “It’d be a shame to lose that community aspect if racing did return. Don’t get me wrong, I think the return of horse-racing would be fantastic and bring a lot of excitement to the area. But I would hope that we’d be able to keep something for the public in terms of a space to come and enjoy, and to use.”

But, the truth is, whether it’s used as a community centre or as part of a new racecourse for Lincoln, Duncan Hall is happy just to have the building there. Proudly standing come wind, rain or shine, one thing is for certain – the Grandstand isn’t going anywhere and it will continue to represent a bygone age. People will still be able to look on and wonder what happened there many years ago. And that’s something that everyone, Duncan Hall included, can be thankful for.

by Andrew Boyers


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There is an interesting article on BBC News’ ‘Magazine’ pages, which asks the question of whether horse-racing is on the cusp off a renaissance, so to speak, with the opening of the first new racecourse in 80 years.

The article talks in some depth about a number of racecourses across the country that have died a death in the post-war period.. It’s seems representative of the boom of the late 20th century, where housing developments and extensive building schemes have littered our landscapes with what seems like little attention paid to the architectural detail and indeed longevity of such projects.

Where once stood proud sporting arenas where history was made, are now generic, characterless buildings. Another local example of such a project is Scunthorpe United’s old ground in the town centre, the Old Showground. It’s now a Sainsbury’s. Perhaps these such developments will be to the 1980’s and 90’s what tower blocks were to the 1960’s.

Lincoln Racecourse is mentioned, and the selection of images to compliment the article give a great insight into a bygone age. Not only does it show how horse racing seemed to truly capture the imagination of the general public on a scale rarely seen in today’s environment, but it also provides a snapshot of society; the top hats, thefancy attire, the excitement – it seems to represent a very ‘British’ sporting scene.

The article also ties in nicely with the future prospects for Lincoln Racecrouse. Throughout the last year, there have been numerous calls to restore the grandstand and the course to its former glory.

We’ll hopefully discuss the prospects of seeing horse racing on the West Common in the future a litttle later.


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Some quick research of the local press brings up some interesting results about the grandstand.

An interesting slideshow of images is provided by the local newspaper, the Lincolnshire Echo, on their website. It serves to provide an insightful visual history of the grandstand’s existence, from a premier horse-racing venue to a near-derelict folly on a local bypass.

Please, take a moment to look at the slideshow here.


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The most famous and prestigious race to be held at Lincoln Racecourse was of course the Lincoln Handicap.

As we mentioned in the previous post, the event is now staged at nearby Doncaster, but many years ago it was the jewel in the crown of Lincoln’s flat racing season. It is run over exactly one mile, and is open to thoroughbreds aged four years and over.

Originally, the race was called the Lincoln Spring Handicap, owing to the time it was staged – usually mid-March or April.

It was a conglomeration of the two-mile Lincolnshire Handicap run in August, inaugurated in 1849 and won by Midia ridden by Barker who weighed in at 4st 11lb, and the mile-and-a-half Lincoln Spring Handicap, inaugurated in 1853.

The race changed to the current distance of a mile in 1855 when Sausebox, who went on to win the St Leger, obliged at even money favourite – the shortest price in the history of the race.

In 1859 the race became known as the Lincolnshire Handicap, a name which had been used previously for the 2-mile event contested in August we’ve already mentioned.

From its inception in the mid 19th century, the race became an important fixture in the flat-race calendar. It’s growing prestige ensured it’s place alongside the world-famous Grand National as part of the ‘Spring Double’.

The 1948 race saw a spectacular field of 48 runners – one of the largest amassed for a race in this country. Indeed this was the largest number of horses ever to contest the race in any single year. It’s a figure now unlikely to be beaten, owing to regulations now in place restricting the number of horses in races.

Notable winners include Ob (1906 and 1907) and Babur (1957 and 1958) who both won two years in a row; St Maclou (1902), who beat Sceptre who went on to win four classics that season; and Buchanan (1881) – an almost white horse who emerged ghostlike from a snow storm.

The race became known under the its present title upon the closure of Lincoln Racecourse, when the race was transferred to Doncaster in 1965.


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