Marsh Barton Lane, Alphington, Exeter, Devon.
LOCATED————————————-Venue was located one mile south side of Marsh Barton Round (ex Lane), east of the railway line, and west of Trusham Road on Marsh Barton Industrial Estate.
ORIGINAL SITE——————————Farm grazing land.
DATE VENUE OPENED——————–May 1932.
Meaning other sports may have taken place prior to the arrival of Greyhound Racing.
FIRST MEETING—————————–May 7th 1932.
Greyhound Racing only.
LICENSED OR INDEPENDENT———–Independent mostly but had a spell as NGRC. between 1946 and 1949.
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——-Inside Sumner.
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————————————300, 500, 525 and 700 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 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—————————Nothing known of.
STADIUM SHARED WITH——————Speedway 1945 -1951.
LAST MEETING——————————-November 30th 1957.
Greyhound Racing only.
STADIUM CLOSURE DATE—————-November 1957.
Meaning other sports may have taken place after Greyhound Racing had ceased.
BUILT ON SITE——————————–Car Dealing companies known as Bristol Street Motors and Hendy Car Supermarket now occupies the site.
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———————Stadium sold to the council for £25,250 under compulsory purchase order.
The City of Exeter has witnessed greyhound racing since the pioneering days of the sport when the temporary track at Oak Marsh, and the more permanent venue, The County Ground were in operation. Yet the Greyhound Stadium described in this section became the last of all to be constructed. It was known as The Marsh Barton Greyhound Stadium a venue situated about one mile southwest of Exeter city centre, in a district known as Alphington.
It was during 1931 that construction of the stadium began on a 16-acre section of marshland just east of the Exeter railway line, just off Marsh Barton Lane. Prior to its first meeting, trials at Marsh Barton had begun with a gathering of around a hundred Whippets and Greyhounds or so, all given a chance to prove themselves by chasing a lure fixed to a trackless trolley.
Plans to stage its inaugural meeting on the 2nd of May 1932 were thwarted due to bad weather, but its first meeting did eventually take place five days later. That meeting went ahead as planned with eight events on show, with five of them consisting of greyhounds contesting over 525 yards, along with three whippet race events which took place over the shorter 325-yard trip.
Those pioneering days had seen the venue operate as an independent track, and that is how it stayed until after the Second World War had ceased. Yet it was the post war months that witnessed vast changes at Marsh Barton, with not also seeing the introduction of Speedway Racing but also an application to join the NGRC. New investment was also announced, with 150 kennels being constructed within the stadium’s grounds, along with an increase of tote booths to forty to cope with an improved tote system.
The circuit was calibrated to 456 yards which created racing distances of 300, 500, 525 and 700 yards. Six dog events would take place with the hounds chasing an inside Sumner type hare. The new changes had seen Marsh Barton cease as an independent on the 14th of September 1946, with its first meeting under NGRC rules staged a fortnight later. Another change came in November 1948, when Marsh Barton became the first venue to introduce the open kennel system. But success did not last, as increased costs had forced the venue to revert back to operating as a flapping track and five dog racing by November 1949.
During this uncertain period of Greyhound Racing, Speedway took place, but only with a handful of meetings, as Marsh Barton became mainly used for practice sessions, and by 1951 the sport had ceased. By the end of 1950 the stadium was struggling financially with debts spiralling to over £38,000, and it came as no surprise when the receivers moved in to close the stadium. The closure had seen the stadium put up for auction, with a reserve price set at £42,500, yet the best bid of £22,000 proved way too short, and the venue was eventually sold privately later in time.
In 1951 the track reopened this time under new management, whose policy was to continue as an independent track, but who also had strong connections with the nearby County Ground track half a mile away. Race meetings were run on Wednesday and Saturday Evenings, with the start times staggered so that when The County Grounds last race had been run, it was possible for keen punters to move on and catch the first race at Marsh Barton.
As the 1950’s unfolded, the area around Marsh Barton Stadium began to develop more as an industrial area, with new factories and warehouses being erected on the surrounding land. But the future of the stadium looked in doubt as it fell into the ownership of the council, after they purchased the stadium for £25,250, the deal having been agreed under the compulsory purchase order.
Marsh Barton’s final meeting came on the 30th of November 1957, with the last race being won by a greyhound called Try Over. The stadium became bulldozed soon after, with the foundations disappearing beneath new industrial units. Today, no evidence remains of the stadium, not surprisingly as Marsh Barton itself has been transformed into a massive modern day industrial estate, with the site of the stadium now covered by the car dealers, Bristol Street Motors and Hendy Cars Supermarket, which are sited along Marsh Barton Road, just west of Trusham Road.