Horsley Hill Road, Westoe, South Shields, Tyne & Wear.
LOCATED————————————One mile south of South Shields town centre in the district of Westoe along the B1301 Horsley HAill Road.
ORIGINAL SITE—————————–An abandoned football stadium once used by South Shieds Football Club up to 1930.
DATE CONSTRUCTED——————–Early 1900’s
DATE VENUE OPENED——————-1902 for Rugby Union.
Meaning other sports may have taken place prior to the arrival of Greyhound Racing.
FIRST MEETING—————————–March 11th 1933.
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——Outside
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———————————–395, 410, 540 and 570 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—————————Durham Cup and South Shields Cup.
STADIUM SHARED WITH——————South Shields Football Club.
LAST MEETING——————————-February 12th 1966.
Greyhound Racing only.
STADIUM CLOSURE DATE—————-Still used for amateur football up until the mid 1970’s.
Meaning other sports may have taken place after Greyhound Racing had ceased.
BUILT ON SITE——————————-A Housing Estate built during 1980 now covers the site. All the street names are named after well known golf courses eg Birkdale, Sunningdale, Wentworth, Gleneagles and Muirfield.
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.
The South Shields Greyhound Stadium was located on Horsley Hill Road in the district of Westhoe, about one mile south of South Shields town centre. The first sporting activities took place at the venue in 1902, when Rugby Union featured there for two seasons only. A number of amateur football teams used the ground after, before South Shields Football Club took over as tenants in 1908. In 1919 South Shields Football Club were admitted to the newly extended Second Division with crowds regularly figuring around the 20,000 mark. A record attendance of 24,348 against Swansea in an FA cup tie on the 19th February 1927 was the biggest attendance for a sporting venture at Horsley Hill, just to prove it was a decent sized stadium.
But poor performances during the Football League period, failed to keep up the promising attendances, with the funds reaped being not enough to run a professional football club, which contributed to the club folding in 1930. The remnants of the club later reformed in 1930 as Gateshead FC, and moved on to another eventual Greyhound Racing venue, that of Redheugh Park, twelve miles west of Horsley Hill.
With the football club having moved on, the stadium became virtually idle, until a Greyhound Racing company made enquiries and secured the lease. Some of the terracing behind the goals was removed, transforming the rectangular shaped stadium into the more familiar oval shape required, thus to make way for the newly constructed greyhound track. A large totalisator board was erected on the east side of the stadium, ready in time for its first meeting of the 11th of March 1933. A 5-1 shot called Short Credit won the first event, in front of crowd estimated at around 4,000. Race meetings were organised under NGRC rules, with five dog races contesting behind an outside Sumner type hare, over distances of 395, 410, 540 and 570 yards, with its big race attractions being The Durham Cup, and The South Shields Cup. In 1936 the newly formed South Shields Football Club arrived as tenants to the now greyhound company owned Horsley Hill venue, but their partnership would end in 1950, after failing to agree terms with the greyhound company.
A fire at the stadium in 1949, totally destroyed the huge North stand, and raised suspicions of arson, after allegations regarding corrupt race results were raised. This was never proved due to evidence being destroyed in the blaze, but the truth came to light in 1962, when one of the management team went public, revealing the irregularities that was going on around the time of the fire, and confessed the truth by publishing it in the South Shields Gazette.
In 1963 a ten pin bowling alley, and a casino became new additions within the boundaries of the stadium, but the new idea was short lived after the both ventures failed miserably. But by the end of 1965 the venue was in a poor run down state, and it came as no surprise when the NGRC gave a stern warning to improve things. These orders came to no avail, as one of the reasons was that the racing manager had become unwell, and had left nobody to take control of improvements, leaving the NGRC with no other option than to break its ties with South Shields on February 16th 1966. It was at this point that the greyhound company who owned Horsley Park went into liquidation.
Attempts were made to reopen the stadium as a flapping track, but these attempts failed to materialise. The venue continued to be used for amateur football once again, with South Shields FC playing matches there until the mid 1970’s. By then the stadium was existing in a dilapidated condition, and was at this period that the council ordered its demolition, seeing it bulldozed during 1976.
After its demolition the site was left abandoned for a number of years before a new housing estate was built on it in 1980. The housing estate still remains today, and is found just off the B1301 Horsley Road, with all the estates roads named after famous UK golf courses, such as Birkdale, Sunningdale, Turnberry, Wentworth, Gleneagles and Muirfield.
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