In 1891 Portsmouth opened
its first racecourse, called 'Portsmouth Park', at Farlington which is located
on the lower southern slopes of east Portsdown.
With its excellent facilities and transport links - it had its own railway
station - it was set to become one of Britain's premier tracks. However race
meetings were suspended during World War One and the War Office turned the
course into one of the country's biggest ammunition dumps. They were reluctant
to return it to its owners even after hostilities ceased in 1918 and disposal of
the ammunition did not begin until 1922 when it was cleared at the rate of 3,000
tons a week by detonating it! The site was not released until 1929 when it was
bought by Portsmouth City Council for £65 an acre who then sold it on for
private housing development.
George Cooper a local
businessman who lived at Paulsgrove House
was ever adept at spotting a business opportunity and decided Portsmouth should
have its racecourse back, but this time on land that he owned at Paulsgrove -
then known as Wymering three miles west of the old Farlington track. This course
went the same way as the Farlington one, and you can read the continuing story here.