Hexham Racecourse, still first past the post

Monday 4th March 2013

© Hexham Racecourse

It is now some 15 years since Hexham Racecourse became corporate members of the Trust and it is now Northumberland’s sole surviving racecourse, while other race sites, including Rothbury, Belford, Elsdon, Wark and Morpeth, have long since disappeared.

The lasting success of the Racecourse is largely down to its Chief Executive Charles Enderby - an experienced businessman. A quarter of a century ago, the racecourse had one small permanent building, but Charles has overseen the rebuilding of almost the entire public area since the 1980s.

In a continued bid to increase turnover, Charles has lodged a planning application with Northumberland County Council for a 250kw wind turbine at the racecourse which, if granted, would make Hexham the first carbon-free racecourse in the UK.

Charles believes this pioneering project will set an example to the rest of the racing industry and may encourage other courses to consider the long-term benefits of investing in renewable energy. A lifelong supporter of wildlife, he regularly nets and rings birds in the garden of his home and at the racecourse, and last year rang a seventh of the pied flycatcher population.

Hexham is the only racecourse in the country on which up to 4 pairs of curlews nest every year and male oystercatchers attack their own reflections on low-lying windows. Such is his love of birds, Charles once re-routed the steeplechase course, cutting out one fence altogether because there was a skylark nesting in front of it.

The lake at the racecourse also incorporates a bird sanctuary, and conservation on the course and the land behind it is strongly encouraged.