Millbank, Off Emscote Road, Milverton, Warwick, Warwickshire
LOCATED————————————About three miles east of Warwick city centre in a district known as Milverton. Heading east on the A445 Emscote Road turn on to Portobello Way before crossing River Avon bridge, the site of the track lies about a mile on the west banks of the river, accesable down a lane that feeds garden allotments.
ORIGINAL SITE—————————–Farm grazing land next to the River Avon, but hosted Whippet Racing and temporary Greyhound Racing meetings for a good number of years prior to the stadium being built.
DATE CONSTRUCTED——————–Possibly 1955.
DATE VENUE OPENED——————-Possibly 1955 but site had been used previously for whippet racing. One report suggests it operated from 27th August 1927
Meaning other sports may have taken place prior to the arrival of Greyhound Racing.
FIRST MEETING—————————–Possibly 1955
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——Outside 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———————————–90, 275, 450, 610 and 810 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 Warwick St Leger and The Warwick Derby.
STADIUM SHARED WITH——————Nothing known of.
LAST MEETING——————————-Around September 2005.
Greyhound Racing only.
STADIUM CLOSURE DATE—————-Around 2012 after being used as a schooling track by a local trainer.
Meaning other sports may have taken place after Greyhound Racing had ceased.
STADIUM DEMOLITION——————-Not known.
BUILT ON SITE——————————Nothing as 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——————-Odd outbuildings from the track still remain, along with scarred earth were the track once lay.
FURTHER COMMENTS——————–The track was prone to flooding.
When visiting a greyhound track for the first time, one of the most difficult greyhound tracks I have ever had to locate, is the one in the historical city of Warwick. Just to make things a little confusing, this greyhound track is nowhere near Warwick, but happens to be situated about 3 miles to the north east of the city centre, in a district called Old Milverton. To locate the site today, you would have to travel away from the city along A445, heading out towards Leamington Spa, before turning in to Portobello way, then along Emscote Road before you branch off to the right, down a dirt track which then splits a cluster of garden allotments. The track leads you down past a wooded area before eventually entering a clearing which brings the site of the track into view.
The exact date of its beginning is still sketchy, yet some historians claim it has been there since 1927, but this may refer to another Warwick greyhound track that existed nearer the racecourse. The first signs of Whippet racing occurred during the 1930’s and 1940’s on land next to the River Avon known as Townsend’s Meadow, a field prone to flooding from the nearby river during winter months. It was during the mid 1950’s that research does show that this venue began to develop as a more recognised greyhound racing venue.
The following paragraph is written by Mr John Benedict, his own words describing how racing was during the 1960’s.
I raced a greyhound here in 1968. At that time, the track was horseshoe shaped, so the race distance was 300 yards. The dogs chased a ‘ball hare’ which was operated manually by two lads turning a handle either side of a large pulley spool. After each race the cable was unwound and placed behind the traps. A lot of dogs ran better chasing this type of lure, because it moved erratically, like a live hare would.
Yet flooding still hindered its progression, even as recently as November 2000, when the track was so badly flooded during a storm, that the track disappeared under two feet of water, with the Fire Brigade having to be called in to rescue sixteen greyhounds that were trapped in the resident kennels. Fortunately, all were rescued without any serious harm done.
During it pioneering years it became known as the Portobello track, named after a close by road bridge that went over the River Avon. During its operating days the Warwick track offered six dog racing over distances of 90, 275, 450, 610 and 810 metres, with the hounds chasing an outside Sumner type hare system. It offered attractive prize money when running its main events, such as The Warwick St Leger, and The Warwick Derby, run over the 450-metre trip during the summer months.
After the millennium, Warwick changed hands on more than one occasion, its constant problems with flooding and the inconsistency of putting on meetings must have made its regulars frustrated. But the original oval shape of the track changed considerably during 2005, as part of the track and its lighting system became moved nearer to the hare control tower. The first and fourth bends feeding the home straight were made easier, and it took around 200 tons of silicon sand laid at a depth of three inches, to complete the overall relaying of the new circuit. But within weeks of a reopening Warwick halted events due to constant issues regarding the running the track. The continuous efforts against flooding did not help either, but the reduction of greyhound entrants from the region certainly contributed to its closure around September 2005.
The track remained open for schooling only and acted as a base for an NGRC licensed trainer, but that ceased too during 2012. At this moment the site remains undeveloped, possibly due to the marshy land scaring off developers, but evidence of the venue does remain with a couple of outbuildings and also the scarred earth was the track once lay.
A photograph or even memorabilia for this track is required for this page, if you can help please contact me.