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Victoria Running Ground

54.962941, -1.623608

Elswick, Newcastle







Home Teams/Clubs:

Last Updated:

31 May 2024

HER Description

This big patch of wasteland opposite the area has been dormant for decades. Constant conjecture as to what it will be next, however it used to be an incredibly busy area. Not just for heavy industry, but also sport.

One of the city's earliest purpose built running grounds was situated here, and was named the Victoria Running Ground in 1858 to mark 20 years of the Queen on the throne. It was designed specifically for professional running, with a 440 yard oval track and stub for short distance running.

One of the first races here was a walking handicap in July 1858 for a champions belt worth £25. The attendance was "extremely numerous", with the race featuring William Spooner of Turnham Green in London. He dominated the sport which was increasingly popular at this time and is featured on many a front page. Spooner came second though, behind Birmingham born H. Syrett.

In 1861 there was a half mile pedestrian race between James Rowan and Jack White, attracting around 5000 people to the grounds. They trained on the Great North Road between Newcastle and Morpeth on a regular basis. Both Gateshead lads their rivarly was well known, and on this occasion Rowan defeated White over 880 yeards and was proclaimed the King of the North.

The North Eastern Railway Company bought the site a couple of years later in 1863, however the grounds continued operating well into the 1920s. In later years it was also used for whippet racing, with weekly cards for anything between £25 and £65 handicaps.

By the 1930s however the site finally succumbed to the needs of the railway. It became sidings to the ever expanding goods yard, and was lost under a web of iron and soot.

Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey, 1864

'Sketches of The Coal Mines in Northumberland and Durham' T.H.Hair, published in 1844

Site of the Victoria Running Grounds in 2024

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'Sketches of The Coal Mines in Northumberland and Durham' T.H.Hair, published in 1844

The site, adjacent to the old lead works, leaves no trace. This area is earmarked for housing.

Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

HER information as described above is reproduced under the basis the resource is free of charge for education use. It is not altered unless there are grammatical errors. 


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