The Ipswich Racecourse is an area of Ipswich that was formerly a racecourse.
The early years
The course was on Nacton Heath just East of Ipswich, although now a suburb, and was 1 mile and 7 furlongs in circumference. The course ran along the line of the modern Lindberg Road, Cobham Road, parallel to Felixstowe Road as far the modern Hatfield Road before a six furlong finish straight running parallel to Nacton Road to complete the loop.
The earliest mention of annual race meetings in Ipswich was 1710 when a Town Purse was run for by "high mettled racers".
A royal plate was gained in 1727 which gave the meetings good support for the next half a century, with the Ipswich Journal running an advertisement for:
- "A new stand on the race ground. Having been requested by several Gentlemen to erect a covered stand for the accommodation of gentleman attending the races, the public are hereby respectfully informed that a complete and elegant stand is now finished, with an inscription against it in golden letters, "The Gentleman's Stand" where gentlemen may have places at two shillings and sixpence each.
Popularity declined slightly until the garrison came to Ipswich in the early 1800s where the officers brought their support to the races.
The course ran a mix of flat and hunt racing, although the last flat race was in 1884 following the withdrawal of the Queen's Plate. From then, it became exclusively a National Hunt course.
The hurdles were unpopular with jockeys and horses alike which, although built to National Hunt rules, lacked wings, which increased the risk of the horses running out unless the jockey approached the centre of the hurdle.
The last race meeting was 29 March 1911 after support had fallen steadily.
The area has since been developed into housing and a park, which is known as "Racecourse Park". It comprises a sports area, children's play area and public toilets.
The Racecourse Pub (on Nacton Road) reputedly stands on the site of the finishing line. In 2009 the Racecourse went bankrupt and was demolished later in the year. The site will now occupy a Tesco Express and five homes which is due for completion early 2010.