The Grand Stand, Outwood, Wakefield

Although there are several instances of horse races being held in Wakefield during the 17th Century, the main record of a Wakefield racecourse refers to the one at Outwood where races were held from 1745 to 1794. The importance of this racecourse can be recognised by the fact that very early on in its lifetime, sometime before 1750, the Horbury (Nr Wakefield) architect  John Carr was commissioned to design for it a grandstand. Although better known for grand houses for the nobility of the period, during his lifetime Carr designed several grandstands including the one, since replaced, at York racecourse, whose design is believed to have been based upon that at Wakefield. One of the houses that Carr designed is Constable Burton Hall in North Yorkshire at which the Society has participated in a Tulip Festival for many years.

Outwood Racecourse 1750
Outwood Racecourse 1750

A painting by an unknown artist from 1750 entitled Outwood Racecourse clearly shows the grandstand in the background. After the demise of the racecourse the Grand Stand served many purposes including being the venue for the first three shows (1807-1809) of the Wakefield Florists Society, the precursor of the current Tulip Society. An account of the history of the Grand Stand with very detailed information on its construction and layout of its rooms may be found in a booklet by B Arundel and A Horner HORSE RACING On the WAKEFIELD – OUTWOOD And GRANDSTAND ROAD and LAWNS REVISITED a copy of which is available in Wakefield Library. Included is a sketch of the building, which had been modified, dating from around 1900. The building came to a sorry end in 1924 when it was blown up. The only evidence now of a racecourse in the area is the naming of Grandstand Road which runs through a large industrial estate close to Junction 41 on the M1 motorway.

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