Epsom Close, UB5

Place Name

Epsom Racecourse in Surrey traces its origins back to at least the English Civil War, when in May 1648, the Earl of Clarendon in his History of the Rebellion relates, “a meeting of the royalists was held on Banstead Downs, under the pretence of a horse race, and six hundred horses were collected and marched to Reigate.” Epsom’s website concludes: “This suggests that for such an under-cover rendezvous to take place, racing at Epsom must have been a regular and well attended occasion.” Under the Commonwealth racing was banned but returned when King Charles II was on the throne. Between 1929 and the Second World War the land on which this street was laid out was home to Northolt Park Racecourse, although it does appear on maps from the time as Wood End Racecourse. It was the venture of racehorse owner Sir William (or Billy Bass), of the brewing family fortune, and Viscount Lascelles, both stewards of the Jockey Club and the Pony Turf Club. The one-and-a-half-mile (2.4 km) racecourse for pony racing was opened by the Earl of Harewood and his wife the Princess Royal. Bass was first chairman of Provincial Cinematograph Theatres, which was founded in 1909 with the ambition of opening a cinema in every town but it was horses which were his first love. The outbreak of war meant racing was suspended and the land was taken over as an army depot and prisoner of war camp. Despite numerous attempts to revive pony racing after the war the land was given over to housing construction. The Racecourse Estate was constructed between 1951 and 1955 in order to solve a severe housing shortage within the borough. The gates of the original racecourse remain in Petts Hill, and a section of the track can be seen as a long, flat stretch of land alongside Mandeville Road.

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