Hill Street, Blackburn, Lancashire.
LOCATED————————————-Approximately one mile east of Blackburn town centre.
ORIGINAL SITE——————————Furthergate Lime Chemical Works.
DATE CONSTRUCTED———————Construction began in 1932.
DATE VENUE OPENED——————–March 1933.
Meaning other sports may have taken place prior to the arrival of Greyhound Racing.
FIRST MEETING—————————–25th March 1933.
Greyhound Racing only.
LICENSED OR INDEPENDENT———-Independent
All venues covered would have to be be licensed with the government, licensed suggested in this section would refere to tracks operating under NGRC Rules.
INSIDE OR OUTSIDE HARE TYPE——Sumner Inside.
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———————————–325, 535 and 745 yards.
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 guidence 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————————–None found.
STADIUM SHARED WITH—————-Stock Car Racing.
It is common knowledge that a good number of the racecourses shared their facilities with other sports, but Blackburn was a purpose built Greyhound Racing venue.
LAST MEETING—————————–Friday 1st June 1984.
Greyhound Racing only.
STADIUM CLOSURE DATE————–June 1984.
Meaning other sports may have taken place after Greyhound Racing had ceased.
STADIUM DEMOLITION—————–Late 1984.
BUILT ON SITE—————————–Tesco Supermarket opened in 1985.
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—————–Nothing known.
FURTHER COMMENTS——————None as yet.
December 1927 had witnessed the opening of Bolton’s Raikes Park Greyhound Stadium, although it may have been the pioneering days of greyhound racing, the boom time that followed brought on the birth of another track, that of the Hill Street Stadium, Blackburn. The success at Bolton track had seen their Board of Directors look for another possible site in the North West to construct a second track.
After viewing other possible sites in the neighbouring towns throughout Lancashire, they came across the derelict site of the Furthergate Chemical Works, found just off Hill Street, one mile east of Blackburn town centre. Problems soon arose after construction had begun, this due to the nature of the subsoil which had been contaminated with a high percentage of lime, but once overcome development of the site continued.
In 1932, construction began of a two-tiered grandstand, which stretched virtually the whole length of the start and finish straight, this along with a smaller single tiered covered stand opposite, which that too happened to be virtually the same length as the back straight. Both the main stand and the popular stand had been equipped with a modern totalisator system, but by December 1932 the government declared that the new system was illegal and that the tracks only mean of betting was through the Bookmakers. A new red bricked tote board had already been constructed at the west end of the track but lay idle until the betting laws had been resolved, and behind the other bend lay a newly constructed kennel block.
Like most tracks around this era, the greyhound company supplied and maintained the greyhounds, all being kennelled at the track. On the 25th Of March 1933 The Hill Street Stadium was ready to stage its first meeting, as by now the sport had become very popular nationally, and it came as no surprise that a good crowd attended the meeting. With the interruption of the Second World War, feeding the track owned greyhounds had become a problem, mainly due to the scarcity of animal feeds, which in turn gave the opportunity for privately owned greyhounds to race at the track. That is how things continued, with The Bolton Greyhound Company operating both venues as independent tracks, with all graded greyhounds being identified by their race name at both venues. The majority of the races were handicapped, with five greyhounds chasing an inside Sumner type hare, with sprints distances set over 325 yards, but more common was the four bend 535-yard trip. Now and again Hill Street would stage a special ten race meeting which normally include two open races, which sometimes featured the odd 745-yard marathon.
Up until the late 1970’s the greyhounds raced on a grassed circuit, although both bends would be sanded, and yet during the winter months, the whole circuit would be totally covered with straw, its purpose to fend off the winter frost and snow. The laying of straw affected race times drastically, slowing the winners time down as much as a second and a half. By the turn of the 1980’s more changes had taken place at the stadium, firstly the grass circuit was replaced totally with sand, but more distinctively, a tarmac track had been constructed within the infield of the track. This period witnessed the arrival of Stock Car Racing, a move which would hope to create more revenue for a now deteriorating stadium.
For many years, part of the stadium had become unused, certainly the back straight stands which had been nothing more than storage for more than two decades, and also the tall tote board had been redundant for a good number of years also. The extra income from Stock Cars would hope to compensate for the reduction of the numbers through the turnstiles at greyhound meetings, and with the tracks 50th anniversary on the horizon the future of the sport had been showing some concern. With no signs of Investment or even a lick of paint anywhere, along with constant rumours amongst the track’s punters regarding the sale of the stadium, it was becoming obvious that the stadiums future was in doubt.
Sadly, those rumours soon became true as the stadium had been sold for redevelopment for an unofficial figure of one million pound. There had been no official announcement regarding its closure, but what happened on the first of June 1984, virtually came out of the blue. What happened on that Friday evening is as follows as owners and trainers gathered for normal pre-race trials, the racing manager informed them that all trials would be at no cost, due to the fact that no more greyhounds would be graded, as the stadium was about to close that night. After 51 years, Greyhound Racing at Blackburn had come to an end, a sad occasion experienced by its regulars indeed, who further witnessed the stadiums demolition, along with hundreds of red brick terraced houses that surrounded it during the following twelve months.
Soon the Hill Streets Stadiums foundation began to be covered by a New Tesco Superstore, along with its large car park, which sadly left no evidence of the track ever being there. The derelict Duke of Edinburgh Public House that lay opposite to the entrance to the stadium’s car park, which acted as a landmark for many years after, has only recently been demolished.