Birmingham Racecourse, Castle Bromwich

The Grandstand
The Grandstand

The racecourse at Castle Bromwich opened in 1894. Its name was Birmingham Racecourse but it was often called Bromford or Bromford Bridge, because this was the name of the station on the Birmingham-to-Derby railway where race-goers alighted on race days. 

 

The racecourse company rented the land from the Lord Bradford, who was probably very pleased with the deal. The land alongside the River Tame was always liable to flooding. 


Race-goers arriving by bus in the 1950s
Race-goers arriving by bus in the 1950s

Lilias Mitchell was a Scottish member of the Suffragettes campaigning for women to have an equal right to vote as men. She had been involved in planting a bomb at a Birmingham railway station and had been arrested. In protest, the racecourse was attacked by a group of Suffragettes who burned down the main grandstand. The cost of the damage ran into many thousands of pounds. Lilias Mitchell was sent to Winson Green prison where she went on hunger strike, became ill and was subsequently released. 

 

Three months later Britain declared war against Germany: the First World War had begun. The British army took over the racecourse buildings as living quarters for trainee air pilots at Castle Bromwich aerodrome.

 

During the Second World War the racecourse with Castle Bromwich golf course was used as a prisoner-of-war camp and anti-aircraft post.

 

The view from the grandstand in the 1950s: factory chimneys. Fort Dunlop is in the background.
The view from the grandstand in the 1950s: factory chimneys. Fort Dunlop is in the background.

In 1949 the racecourse was bought from Lord Bradford by the Birmingham Racecourse Company. The course was redeveloped in 1958, but by now the days of the racecourse were over.

 

When the course had first opened, it was in the countryside. But now the grandstand looked across to the Fort Dunlop rubber factory with other factories and their smoking chimneys close by. By the late 1950s more people were able to buy their own cars and race-goers preferred to drive out to the racecourses at Stratford and Warwick. 

 

The owners of the course decided to sell the land. The final race meeting was held in 1965 and the land was then sold to Birmingham City Council to build the Bromford housing estate.

 

Most of the roads were named after racecourses and horses and the old winning post was placed at the playground on Bromford Drive (It has since disappeared). However, the old parade ground has been laid out with the original posts close to Regal Croft (See the photograph below - click to enlarge). 

 

'A History of Castle Bromwich for Young People' written by William Dargue 2016 for the Castle Bromwich Bellringers.

We’ve been ringing here for 500 years and are keen to involve local people in our ancient art. Contact us via our Castle Bromwich Bell Ringers website if you want learn to ring or visit the tower or have one of us talk to your group about the history of Castle Bromwich, our church or bellringing.  Material on this site may be reused only for non-commercial purposes providing appropriate attribution is given (Creative Commons Licence Attribution NonCommercial 4.0) - details on the Contact page.