Lanark Racecourse

Lanark Racecourse (closed October 1977) was a Scottish horse racing venue, situated in the small town of Lanark in Scotland's Central Belt, 25 miles (40 km) from Glasgow. It was reputedly founded by King William the Lion of Scotland (1165-1214).[1]

Lanark Racecourse
Lanark Race Course (Disused) - - 110832.jpg
The old odds/results board at Lanark
LocationLanark, Scotland
Coordinates55°39′45″N 3°44′31″W / 55.6624°N 3.7420°W / 55.6624; -3.7420Coordinates: 55°39′45″N 3°44′31″W / 55.6624°N 3.7420°W / 55.6624; -3.7420
Date closedOctober 1977
Course typeFlat
Notable racesLanark Silver Bell

The course was a right-handed oval, 10 furlongs (2,000 m) round, with a run-in of around 3+12 furlongs (700 m). It was home to Britain's oldest horse race, the Lanark Silver Bell, which after a gap of three decades following Lanark's closure, is now contested again at nearby Hamilton Park Racecourse. The original Silver Bell is commonly reported to have been a gift of William the Lion in the 12th century.[2][3] While the original bell no longer exists, the present one dates from the 17th century.[2] The course also staged the longest handicap in the Scottish racing calendar, the 2+12-mile (4.0 km) William the Lion Handicap, which closed the Scottish flat racing season.[4]

The first aviation meeting to be held in Scotland was held at Lanark Racecourse between 6 and 13 August 1910. This location was chosen because the land was relatively flat, the racecourse already had facilities for a paying public, there were stables to act as hangars for the aeroplanes and the racecourse was accessible by both road and by rail, especially as The Caledonian Railway Company were prepared to construct a new station near the main entrance. The aeroplanes were transported to the meeting by rail, as aviation technology at the time was not advanced enough to safely fly there. The Lanark meeting took place shortly after a similar event in Bournemouth at which Charles Rolls lost his life. Influenced by this, it was decided that no aircraft would fly closer than 300 yards (270 m) away from the spectators. For the first time, aeroplanes were accurately timed over a straight measured distance, allowing the first world records to be set, covering flights over one mile (1.6 km). The meeting was described by The Aero magazine as 'the most successful yet held in Britain'.[5]

Racing at Lanark was of a modest quality, and race meetings were only attended by the faithful Scottish race-goer.[3] It closed in October 1977 due to financial problems. The remains of the course are still visible today.


  1. ^ Brook, p. 177.
  2. ^ a b Mortimer, Onslow & Willett 1976, p. 337.
  3. ^ a b Wright 1986, p. 162.
  4. ^ Harkaway [pseud.] (29 September 1962). "Attractive End to Scottish Season". Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 16 May 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume. Scotland's Aviation History, Stenlake Publishing, 2014. ISBN 9781840336535