The first racecourse noted was that instituted by James VIIth earl of Derby who organised races on a piece of land extending rather more than a mile across the peninsula of Langness - a description of one of these in 1687 was entered at the Rolls Office. Land at Langness continued to be known as the racecourse though it would seem that races were athletics rather than horse-racing.

There were horse races at Peel and Douglas from 1811 though they seemed to have ceased after 1815.

John Welch in his often acerbic guide of 1836, suggested that Port-y-chree meadow would make a good course:

The meadow of Port-y-chee is well adapted for a race-course, and, from its vicinity to Douglas, will probably be used as such by and bye, when some sporting character of sufficient wealth and influence shall give the start to such an amusement.

However no note seems to have been taken.


The next racecourse was one established at the Strang, adjacent to the newly opened Lunatic Asylum,( probably on the same field as one-time used for the Strang Fair in the early 19th century), which was opened on Thursday and Friday, July 14 and 15, 1870. Considerably more than £1000 was given in prize money but, according to a 1888 IoMSPCo guide, was very far from being recouped from all sources (admission to ground and grandstand). "The second attempt was even a more signal failure, occasioning the meetings to be discontinued." Jenkinson's guide of 1875 has the following description:

The Race Course is situated on rising ground, commanding a beautiful view. In the direction of the Asylum are seen parts of Douglas, the hotel on the Head, and a strip of the sea ; and then the table-land runs past the Carnane Hill, Mount Murray, and Slieu Chiarn, away to South Barrule and Slieu Whallin. In the opposite direction are Greeba, Slieu Reay, Colden, Carraghan, Pen-y-Pot, Snaefell, and the Cairn; a grand mountain array, viewed with wonder from this favourable standpoint, by the numbers who yearly assembled here to enjoy the national sport.

The Race Course was opened in July, 1870, and is formed with a ring fence of 70 acres, and has been constructed at considerable expense, with two grand stands, capable of holding a thousand people each, with refreshment rooms, &c. The races took place in the month of August every year, lasting two days. About 10001. of added money was given, and the meeting appeared gradually becoming one of the best in the United Kingdom. During the race days the railway company ran special trains to a temporary station between Kirk Braddan and Union Mills, and within a short distance of the course. The races not having been found to pay, they have been discontinued, and the course is occasionally used by the Bicycle Club.

The temporary halt was however erected in 1873, so it would appear that races were at least planned for 1873; according to Boyd the contractors Watson & Smith wanted £166 8s 0d for building it whilst the railway company claimed that £71 10s 0d had been agreed.


A more successful venture was established at Bellevue, now the site of the National Sports Centre but which had been laid out in 1889 as an athletics ground and then used in 1892 for the IoM International Exhibition.

race course at Bellevue (c. 1920) The course opened in 1912 and was a popular attraction - though according to Stenning 'Racing degenerated to such low esteem that the Course was closed and later became a Municipal Sports Ground' -the course closed in 1931. when Tynwald made on course betting illegal.



J.C.Boyd The IoM Railway vol1 Oakwood Press 1993 (p68)

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© F.Coakley , 2000