Author Topic: Rochester & Chatham Races  (Read 1707 times)

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Online pomme homme

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Rochester & Chatham Races
« on: January 03, 2019, 18:55:28 pm »
The 1830 Rochester & Chatham Races took place on 7 and 8 September of that year. The Racing Calendar indicates that they took place on Chatham Lines (does that mean anything to anyone from that area?). There were six races, three on the Tuesday and three on the Wednesday. These were:

- a £50 Plate, run over a mile and a distance and won by Mr Scaith's Harmony
- the Rockingham Stakes, run over a mile and a half and won by Mr Shackel's Watchman
- the Rochester & Chatham Plate, run over two miles and a distance and won by Mr Heard's Confederacy
- a 50 guineas plate, run over two miles and a distance and won by Mr Coleman's Tiny
- the County Stakes, run over a mile and a half and won by Lord Ongley's Suffolk Punch
- a Sweepstakes, run over two miles and a distanceand won by Mr Clarke's Smuggler

Online John

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2019, 08:12:18 am »
There is a topic on the Chatham Lines

I was scratching my head when you posted about racing at the Lines - I had visions of horsies charging through the Lines themselves with the spectators looking down into the ditches from above. But no, it seems the racecourse was south of the Lines, a roughly circular track. I can't pinpoint it exactly on a modern map, but it seems it was somewhere in the vicinity of the current Chatham Naval Memorial?

The earliest reference I can find in the BNA is 1806. In the early 1820's there was mention of it becoming a permanent fixture, although I haven't discovered when the track (1 mile) was actually laid out.
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Online pomme homme

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2019, 09:58:07 am »
Certainly it would have been an interesting spectacle - ditch racing, that is!

The fact that the course was one mile round ties in with the lengths of the races at the 1820 Rochester & Chatham Races. It could be that 'the distance', which supplemented one (for a mile) and two (for two miles) circuits of the course, represented a 240 yard finishing straight, branching off the circular course. Maybe early OS maps might give some indication of the layout of the course - after all, the very first one inch to the mile OS map was of Kent and dated from 1801!

Offline Longpockets

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2019, 10:24:28 am »
Map of race course
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Online pomme homme

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2019, 11:20:39 am »
Excellent. Thank you, Longpockets. But that map puts paid to my theory concerning a 240 yard run-in!

Offline Longpockets

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2019, 13:12:09 pm »
The course may well of changed during the time it existed. On this web site which you are probably aware of there is reference to a 9 furlong course with a 2 furlong straight at Chatham Lines.

The web site also covers other courses.

Site home page

List of race courses

By the time you make ends meet, the've moved the ends.

Online John

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2019, 18:41:58 pm »
The Rochester and Chatham Races were moved to Detling, near Maidstone, at some point, but kept the name.
"You know, if you don’t read history, you’re a bloody idiot." - James Clavell

Online pomme homme

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2019, 11:08:49 am »
According to www.greyhoundderby.com, the racecourse on Chatham Lines was the venue for the Rochester & Chatham Races between 1822 and 1860, the last meeting taking place there on 7 September 1860. Maidstone Racecourse operated concurrently for much of this period but survived Chatham by some nineteen years, the last meeting there taking place on 2 June 1879. The aforementioned website is silent as to the title under which the races there went. However it says that, initially, meetings took place on 'good hunting ground' some four miles from Maidstone town centre. They relocated to Detling Downs in the 1850s before moving onto Thurnham Hill in the 1860s, after which they returned to Detling Downs until the races ceased in 1879. Maybe it was this latter emanation of Maidstone Racecourse which hosted the Rochester & Chatham Races after they left the course at Chatham Lines in 1860?

Online pomme homme

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2019, 11:08:36 am »
Leviathan Davies, reputedly the leading bookmaker of the first half of the 19th Century, had a strange accident at the Rochester & Chatham Races. Apparently he fell through the rotten floor of a dilapidated grandstand (presumably on the racecourse on Chatham Lines). However his fall must have been arrested as he was left dangling through the ceiling of the weighing room beneath. The story is recounted by Jim Beavis in his book entitled 'The Brighton Races', in which he relates that Davies' chosen method of recovery from the incident was to run twice round the course (presumably he was unaccompanied and thus didn't need to offer odds on the result), a distance of 2.25 miles. Beavis attributes this accident, and Davies' unusual response to it, as the cause, along with a mugging when he was hit on the head, of a decline in his health necessitating his retirement from the Turf in 1857. But perhaps this was an over-reaction as Davies lived for 22 years thereafter in comfortable retirement. I wonder if this incident was reported in the contemporary newspapers? Unfortunately Beavis doesn't give a date for it.

Offline Kyn

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2020, 13:57:57 pm »
A small mention of a race on the lines in 1821:

Monday,  Oct. 15, 1821

The blood horse which won the match on Chatham Lines on Monday week, by performing ten miles in 27 minutes, was backed to go a mile in two minutes on  the same piece of ground on Thursday night, which he lost by three seconds.  It is generally believed that the horse would have gone the distance within the time, had it not been for the unfavourable state of the weather.

Online Pete

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2021, 08:23:07 am »
A singular race was run on Monday last, near Chatham lines, for a considerable wager, between a broken-winded blood horse (belonging to a gentleman at Goldhurst) and a coach horse, an old fox-huuter, the property of the proprietor of the Chatham coach. The hurses were matched to run eight times over the course, a mile and a quarter round. At starting the odds were in favour of the blood horse the fox-hunter, however, took the lead, and kept it nine miles, when the jockey of the blood horse put it to its speed, and won. The 10 miles were run in rather less than 27 minutes

The Cambrian 13/10/1821
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Online pomme homme

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2022, 16:42:25 pm »
[William Edmund 'Leviathan' Davies ], reputedly the leading bookmaker of the first half of the 19th Century, had a strange accident at the Rochester & Chatham Races.

Quote
I wonder if this incident was reported in the contemporary newspapers? Unfortunately Beavis doesn't give a date for it.

I've found reference to it in 'Sixty Years on the Turf : the Life and Times of George Hodgman 1840 - 1900'. There the author says:

Quote
As I have said, the closing years of Davies' life were clouded : and I always dated the beginning of his physical collapse from the day he fell through the dilapidated Grand Stand to the weighing room below at the Rochester and Chatham Meeting. It was an extraordinary spectacle - that of Davies dangling, hung up by his arms, and struggling in vain to touch the ground. He was promptly extricated, but the shock was severer than the bruises. With an idea of shaking off the effects of the accident he ran the circuit of the course twice, though I do not think the "faculty" would have recommended the proceeding.

This account may be the source of Jim Beavis' tale. But still it does not identify when it occurred and one assumes that it was not reported in the contemporary press.

Offline Kyn

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2022, 20:24:42 pm »
Hereford Journal 12 July 1809

An unfortunate accident occurred during the last race on Chatham Lines on Tuesday – four horses had started for a sweepstakes they had been round the course and were coming in at their swiftest speed towards the distance ground when a cow which had been driven into the field with most inconsiderate and culpable carelessness passed across the course unfortunately one of the horses ran against her and both came to the ground. The rider a lad from Newmarket was thrown with excessive violence over the horse’s head and was taken up senseless and carried to the hospital. It was a long time doubtful whether he would recover but we are happy to hear that he is now considered to be out of danger. The horse which sustained scarce any injury afterwards ran over a child who was in consequence dangerously wounded in the head. He is also now in a fair way of recovery.

Online pomme homme

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Re: Rochester & Chatham Races
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2023, 16:10:26 pm »
Leviathan Davies, reputedly the leading bookmaker of the first half of the 19th Century, had a strange accident at the Rochester & Chatham Races.

When William Edmund 'Leviathan' Davies retired from the race track in 1857, he did so to the King & Queen public house in Marlborough Place Brighton, before buying his retirement home at 18 Gloucester Place, Brighton, where he lived from 1868 to his death in 1879. When he died, he left £60,000 in shares (a phenomenal sum of money at that time) to Brighton Corporation, £50,000 of which was used by the Corporation to purchase and establish, as a public park, Preston Park.