Portsmouth Stadium

Portsmouth Greyhound Stadium was a greyhound racing stadium in Tipner north west of Portsmouth, England.

Portsmouth Greyhound Stadium
LocationTipner, north west Portsmouth
Coordinates50°49′27″N 1°05′16″W / 50.82417°N 1.08778°W / 50.82417; -1.08778
Opened1931
Closed2010

OriginsEdit

The stadium was constructed in 1930 east of Tipner Lane on the site of the Stamshaw Chemical Works.[1] The stadium would be accessed from the new Target Road and effectively replaced the track at Portsmouth Greyhound Track (Copnor), which raced from 1928 to 1930.

OpeningEdit

The new, larger stadium was opened on 25 May 1931, with trainer Fred Tolfree claiming all the first four places in a five-dog opening race. The first winner was Tommy's Pup, the 2–1 favourite.[2]

Pre war historyEdit

In 1932 the stadium was bought by Joe Childs, a famous jockey at the time because he was jockey to the King George V. Also included in the new management team were Jack Parker, captain of the Harringay speedway team, and Bradbury Pratt.[3]

In 1937 a 14-year-old boy called George Curtis secured a job with track trainer Bill Peters and one year later Hugo Spencer joined the track as a trainer. The management of the stadium was run by Sporting Promotions (Portsmouth) Ltd.[4]

Postwar historyEdit

The totalisator turnover peaked in 1946 at £1,108,662.[5]

The stadium saw a limited run of stock car racing from 23 April 1955 to September the same year. The initial meetings were promoted by JG Southouse, with one of the drivers, Dan Spence, recorded in the same role from July.

In 1956 Quick Surprise won the Scottish Greyhound Derby and reached the final of the English Greyhound Derby for trainer Pat Mullins. Two years later Joe Childs died and the ownership of the stadium went into the hands of F A Childs who also became racing manager. F A Childs was replaced by E F G Wilkins after Childs drowned in an accident. Childs was remembered in the following years with the running of the F.A.Childs Memorial Trophy.[3]

In 1961 the Hugo Spencer-trained Hey There Merry won the Scottish Derby, and Spencer's Trip To Dublin reached the English Derby final. The Nationwide Leisure Company took over the stadium in 1963, with Bill Francis becoming racing manager, and the Golden Muzzle would be introduced as the track's premier event.[6]

George Curtis claimed his first win as a trainer when Bad Trick won the 1964 Puppy Derby. In 1968 Curtis left Portsmouth for Brighton, replaced by his brother Charlie and leaving Hugo Spencer and Greg Doyle as the other resident trainers. Charlie Curtis was killed in a car crash just one year later.[6][7]

Spencer continued his success by winning the 1971 Welsh Greyhound Derby with Spectres Dream and he would also win three National Sprints in 1961 with Hi There Merry and two in 1975 and 1976. The race itself would be transferred to Portsmouth for three years after the closure of Clapton Stadium.[6]

In 1972 the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) bought the track from the Nationwide Leisure Company for the sole purpose of selling it as a lucrative commercial property under there GRA Property Trust Company. However the property bubble burst in 1973 leaving the south coast venue with a lifeline. Reading had not been so lucky and closed under the GRA which resulted in trainer Ron Jeffrey arriving at Portsmouth. Bill Francis became General Manager and oversaw two Racing Managers spells, Jim Layton and Stuart Strachan both filled the position before Dave Stow settled in the role.[8]

Walstone reached the 1985 English Greyhound Derby final for trainer John Copplestone and in 1990 the track replaced the grass straights to go to all sand. The same year Jo Burridge won the Hunt Cup with Coloured Panther.[8] Copplestone had another English Derby finalist in 1991 when Summerhill Super finished fifth and another Copplestone greyhound called Murlens Abbey won the Greyhound of the Year after wins that included the Arc, East Anglian Derby and Edinburgh Cup.[9]

In 1992 Wembley plc announced significant losses leading to cost-cutting exercises and Portsmouth suffered as a result despite the fact that the GRA had pledged a new state-of-the-art Portsmouth stadium previously. Lee McAlpine replaced Dave Stow as racing manager before Eric Graham took over and in 1998 Jim Snowden left Catford Stadium to take over as general manager from the retiring Bill Francis.[9]

During 2006 the track's 'Inside Sumner' hare system was replaced by the 'Swaffham'

ClosureEdit

In 2008, it was announced that Portsmouth City Council's long-term lease was nearing its end, and they were considering selling the site for redevelopment. Lease holders GRA offloaded the track to a new company, registered in March 2008, called PGS Ltd headed by general manager Eric Graham.[10]

It was agreed that PGS Ltd could pay the council a peppercorn rent of £1,000 per year because there was no value in redeveloping the land at that time. Graham attempted to renew the lease two years later in 2010, but it was rejected by the Tipner Regeneration Company and South East England Development Agency. Within weeks the company was wound up with immediate effect, and liquidators were appointed, with staff and trainers left unpaid. Racing manager Paul Clark was suspended by Graham for comments made over the GRA's and Grahams role in the closure.[11]

The last meeting took place on 27 March 2010, and the stadium was demolished in 2012, with the site awaiting redevelopment.[12]

Track recordsEdit

Pre-metric

Distance
yards
Greyhound Time Date Notes
470 Clam 27.30 1950
470 Hey There Merry 26.68 24.05.1963
655 Shaggy Lass 38.34 1946
655 Laurdella Guest 37.67 06.06.1964
850 Woodville Fortune 50.54 03.07.1964
470 H Tuathal Teachtmar 28.29 1950

Post-metric

Distance
metres
Greyhound Time Date Notes
246 Gold Tip 15.04 17.03.2009
256 Mr Belvedere 15.72 26.06.1987
256 Lissadell Tiger 15.55 09.06.1989
430 Ivory Dave 26.30 08.04.2006
430 Coolside Lucky 26.27 20.10.2006 Golden Muzzle heats
438 Northwood Double 26.95 1977
438 Blakes World 26.15 29.10.2006 Golden Muzzle final
438 Skelligs Tiger 26.63 19.07.1985
438 Beaver Dip 26.37 16.09.1988
438 Knockeevan Magic 26.26 05.10.2003 Golden Muzzle final
601 Bills Paid 37.51 02.06.2006
610 Wellington Sand 38.32 16.10.1984
610 Crohane Lucy 38.26 06.10.1989
610 Firmount Flapjack 38.14 13.10.2000
784 Active Pearl 50.43 04.08.2006
792 Airmount Sand 50.65 16.10.1984
792 My Texette 50.62 28.07.1993
792 Winetavern Sooth 50.60 28.07.2000
955 Zuzu's Petal 62.18 02.06.2006
964 Wheres Dunait 62.94 28.07.1993

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "OS County Series Hampshire and the Isle of Wight 1909". old-maps.co.uk.
  2. ^ "The Portsmouth Greyhounds, Tuesday 26 May". The Sporting Mail and Morning News. 1931.
  3. ^ a b Genders, Roy (1975). The Greyhound and Racing Greyhound. Page Brothers (Norwich). ISBN 0-85020-0474.
  4. ^ Tarter, P Howard (1949). Greyhound Racing Encyclopedia. Fleet Publishing Company Ltd. p. 59.
  5. ^ Particulars of Licensed tracks, table 1 Licensed Dog Racecourses. Licensing Authorities. 1946.
  6. ^ a b c Genders, Roy (1981). The Encyclopedia of Greyhound Racing. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 07207-1106-1.
  7. ^ "Remember When - August 1969". Greyhound Star. 2018.
  8. ^ a b Genders, Roy (1990). NGRC book of Greyhound Racing. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7207-1804-X.
  9. ^ a b Hobbs, Jonathan (2002). Greyhound Annual 2003. Raceform. ISBN 1-904317-07-3.
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ "Ex-greyhound staff say they are owed thousands of pounds". Portsmouth.co.uk.
  12. ^ "Portsmouth CEO Cullen meets with Network Rail and Stephen Morgan MP to discuss Fratton Park redevelopment plans". Portsmouth.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2021.