Bolton and Westhoughton Greyhound Stadium, Marsh Brook Fold, Wigan Road, Westhoughton, Greater Manchester
LOCATED————————————-About one and half miles south west of Westhoughton, set back just of the A59 heading out towards Hindley.
ORIGINAL SITE——————————Grazing land linked to Green’s Farm.
DATE VENUE OPENED——————–1947 for schooling of greyhounds only.
Meaning other sports may have taken place prior to the arrival of Greyhound Racing.
FIRST MEETING—————————–During 1951.
Greyhound Racing only.
LICENSED OR INDEPENDENT———-Independent
All venues covered would have to be licensed with the government, licensed suggested in this section would refer to tracks operating under NGRC Rules.
INSIDE OR OUTSIDE HARE TYPE——During the late 1990’s, the venue staged races with both the inside Sumner and the outside Swaffham hares but reverted to the outside only by 2000.
Please note that the Electric Hare suggested is only a guidance and would have been in operation for a certain amount of time at this venue. Although it is not necessarily guaranteed that it was operational all the time, as other types of lure may have been used and updated as time progressed.
DISTANCES———————————–235, 390 and 555 metres.
Please note that most racing venues distances had become varied throughout the years, the ones given above were at once point set and offers only a guidance to the track size.
Please note that alterations at most racing venues throughout its existence would see that the circumference of the track would vary, the one shown above offers only a guidance to the track size.
BIG RACE NAMES—————————The Westhoughton Derby and The Westhoughton Guineas.
STADIUM SHARED WITH——————Nothing known of.
LAST MEETING——————————-November 17th 2013.
Greyhound Racing only.
STADIUM CLOSURE DATE—————-November 2013.
Meaning other sports may have taken place after Greyhound Racing had ceased.
STADIUM DEMOLITION——————-November 2013.
BUILT ON SITE——————————-Nothing known of yet.
In some cases, structure’s that originally covered the venue after the stadium had been demolished, may have been themselves demolished too, so the one described is more likely to be the one which now presently covers the site.
EVIDENCE LEFT TODAY——————–Just rubble and disturbed earth.
Bolton and Westhoughton Greyhound Stadium was actually more nearer the town of Hindley rather than Westhoughton, and definitely was nowhere near Bolton. The venue was situated alongside the A58, one and a half miles southwest of Westhoughton, just short of Hindley’s built-up area.
It had been constructed on grazing land belonging to Green’s Farm, and began life as a schooling track in 1947, before staging race events for the first time in 1951. Although it existed throughout its life as an independent track, it always seems to linger in the shadows of the more luxurious tracks such as Bolton, Oldham, Wigan and Blackburn. My early memories of Greyhound Racing began in 1970, as a twice a week regular at my local track Blackburn, obviously under the guidance of my late father, but those fond memories still included the Sunday morning visit to Westhoughton for trialing.
Since those days of the early 1970’s little had changed structure wise, although like many other tracks, the running surface had switched from grass to sand, and that the lure of the inside Sumner hare ended up as a Swaffham type, and also the tightness of the bends had been made easier through time. The early days had seen the tracks kennels housed in a derelict barn, that building later became the tracks canteen, offices and toilet block, with the present-day kennels situated adjacent to the entrance pay box. The bar area was upgraded around 2000, yet the bookmakers and patrons still took shelter under the same covered stand that had little changed over the years, except for the removal of a small petitioned off café that once stood at the town end. The car park itself, had not changed much either, still riddled with a cluster of potholes, yet only seen full when special meetings took place, although Sunday morning trial sessions during the early 1970’s, could match this quite easily.
Over the years the running surface had improved immensely, although Westhoughton being a smallish track did have an unusual egg shape about it, with both bends having totally different radius. Due to the track’s width it regular featured five dog racing over metric distances of 235, 390 and 555 Metres, with the hounds chasing an outside Sumner type hare. The “Westhoughton Greyhound Derby” had always been its biggest attraction, normally run in November over the four-bend trip and had a good record of attracting excellent greyhounds from around the region.
By the turn of the millennium the future of the track was in doubt after its present owner had sold out to a property developer. Rumours of closure was inevitable, but what helped at the time was a meeting arranged with the new stadium owner and the regular trainers and owners at a nearby public house. His assurance of the track continuing was welcome, as the stadium would continue to operate with all rumours of closure totally quashed. But more concerns came during December 2011, after the track had closed due to its proprietor running into financial difficulties. A local businessman saved the day after agreeing terms with the stadiums owner and re-opened the venue the following March.
But the poor support reflected by the greyhound fraternity had not been enough, and soon witnessed the track to plunge into crisis once more. The poor number of entries and patrons attending meetings, may have contributed to the stadiums closure once again, but it had been quite publicized that the stadiums owner had also been seeking planning permission to construct new housing on the site. All efforts to avoid closure came to nothing, as the venue was about to close with its last meeting being staged on the 17th of November 2013. A good crowd turned out to say their last goodbyes, for a bumper fifteen race meeting, with a greyhound called Wise Man winning the last ever race. What came more of a shock is that within a matter of days all outbuildings had been bulldozed, there was no way that racing would return this time.
At this moment in time the foundations of Westhoughton Greyhound Stadium still remain, although mounds of rubble litter the place along with outgrowing shrubbery, yet little has happened regarding the construction of new housing.