Marine Gardens, Seafield Road East, Portobello, Edinburgh.
LOCATED————————————Three miles east of Edinburgh city centre in the District of Portobello. The venue was situated along the sea front near the junction between the A199 and Kings Road.
ORIGINAL SITE—————————–A Sports Ground.
DATE CONSTRUCTED——————–1911 as a Sports Ground.
DATE VENUE OPENED——————-1928 for Scottish League Football.
Meaning other sports may have taken place prior to the arrival of Greyhound Racing.
FIRST MEETING—————————–July 2nd 1932.
Greyhound Racing only.
LICENSED OR INDEPENDENT———-NGRC.
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——Don’t know.
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.
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——————Leith Athletic Football Club and Edinburgh City.
LAST MEETING——————————-October 3rd 1933. Although others may suggest that racing came to close during 1936, but yet these suggestions has to be proved.
Greyhound Racing only.
STADIUM CLOSURE DATE—————-1939, but site was used as a test track for a Coachbuilding works.
Meaning other sports may have taken place after Greyhound Racing had ceased.
STADIUM DEMOLITION——————-1958 to make way for a Bus Depot.
BUILT ON SITE——————————-The Lothian Bus Depot built during 1958.
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 of.
Three miles east of Edinburgh city centre is the district of Portobello, a coastal district that lies on the south banks of the picturesque Firth of Forth. By the end of the twentieth century, Portobello’s seaside location along with its promenade attractions had made itself an ideal gathering for day trippers and holiday makers. Further attractions developed during 1909, when a section of the promenade became the home to a series of ballrooms and entertainment halls, along with a mountain slide and a scenic railway, and became known as the Marine Gardens.
In 1911 a sports ground was constructed along the side the gardens, which included an athletics track and a football pitch. But the interruption of the First World War in 1914 took the glamour off Marine Gardens, with the army taking control of the site, and using it as a base camp for its troops. It took a number of years to recover from the hostilities of the war, before it became a popular attraction once more. New proprietors invested on transforming the site into a sports stadium once again, a move which would attract interest of two local football clubs, with Edinburgh City and Leith Athletic staging matches there for the first time in 1928.
1928 incidentally became the year that Dirt Track Speedway Racing featured at the venue for the first time. It was during this period that Scottish League Football was becoming its main financial contributor, a spell which had seen its record attendance set at 21,000, after Leith Athletic had faced Glasgow Celtic in an FA cup tie in 1931. But the following years had shown that the popularity of football had dwindled considerably, mainly due to poor performances on the pitch, which contributed in both football clubs moving on to other pastures by 1936.
By 1930, Speedway had returned but this time on a purpose built shale track, but the sport ceased within a matter of months, due to the high financial demands required by its competitors. But a new sport was on the horizon by early 1932, after a local newspaper had reported that the council had struck a deal with the GRA to stage Greyhound Racing at the venue. By Spring time the construction of a greyhound track around the football pitch had begun, a development which totally ignored all warnings issued by the Scottish Football Association, who happened to oppose all types of dog racing being staged at football league venues. But Greyhounds Racing did go ahead, with six dog races being run over distances of 525 yards under the guidance of NGRC rules, with all the greyhounds being provided from the kennels based at the Powderhall track, who themselves operated under the control of the GRA.
The first meeting came on the Saturday afternoon of the 2nd of July, with almost 6,000 spectators in attendance. But any excitements were soon extinguished, after the first race was declared void, due to the mechanical hare breaking down. The second event went to plan, with a greyhound called Rambling Ben making a name for himself by becoming the first greyhound to win a race at the venue. Unfortunately, more problems materialised following this race, with the rest of the meeting having to be abandoned due to the re-occuring problems with the electric hare.
A second meeting was arranged for the 16th of July, but this time the event went ahead without any interruptions at all. The next meeting followed five days later, when Marine Gardens staged their first ever evening meeting, an event which attracted an impressive crowd of over 5,000. Marine Gardens continued to stage meetings twice a week throughout the Summer and Autumn period, but the time table also included a Winter break, with the final meeting of 1932 being run on the 3rd of November.
By the following Spring, Greyhound Racing was being staged once again, and continued throughout the Summer, until the press announced that the 1933 season would close with a final meeting on the 3rd of October. The seven race evening event went ahead, with a greyhound called Alwhat winning the final race of the season. But unknown at the time, Alwhat became the last ever greyhound to win a race at the venue, as Greyhound Racing failed to return in 1934. Its failure to return was down to the GRA being unable to renew the lease with the council, and also became the reason behind the GRA’s purchase of the Stenhouse track on the opposite side of the city in December 1935.
Although the greyhounds had gone, football continued to feature at the Gardens up until 1936, with Midget Car Racing given a chance to prosper during 1938. Speedway Racing returned once more in 1939, although only briefly due to all sporting events being thwarted by the outbreak of the Second World War. The early 1940’s became a period when the Marine Gardens became part of the war effort once more, with the site becoming used as an army base. Sadly, no sporting events ever took place once hostilities had ceased, as by the late 1940’s the site had become a test track for a car making company.
By the 1950’s, the grounds became the ownership of a coach building business, but that to was replaced in 1958 after the stadium was demolished to make way for a new bus depot. Today, the site remains covered by the Lothian Bus depot, which leaves no evidence of the Marine Gardens ever having been there.
A programme, photograph or even memorabilia for this track is required for this page, if you can help please contact me.