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Kelso Racecourse, Grandstand

A Category A Listed Building in Kelso, Scottish Borders

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Latitude: 55.6125 / 55°36'44"N

Longitude: -2.4368 / 2°26'12"W

OS Eastings: 372581

OS Northings: 635519

OS Grid: NT725355

Mapcode National: GBR C3FJ.7X

Mapcode Global: WH8XZ.J6T7

Entry Name: Kelso Racecourse, Grandstand

Listing Date: 11 May 2011

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400676

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51742

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Kelso

County: Scottish Borders

Electoral Ward: Kelso and District

Parish: Kelso

Traditional County: Roxburghshire

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Dated 1822, following a design supplied by John Carr in 1778 (see Notes). Outstanding and rare, 2-storey, rectangular-plan, Classical racecourse grandstand. Buff sandstone ashlar with moulded dressings and cornicing. Shouldered hoodmoulds to openings.

S (PRINCPAL) ELEVATION: 7-bay rusticated arcade to ground. 5-bay section above with Tuscan pilasters between round-arched openings; stepped back to form viewing terrace. Ornamental cast-iron railings with rose motif and decorative awning posts. Balustraded parapet with cast-iron rails to roof-top observation platform. Shouldered stacks with tall square-plan chimneys in groups of three.

Round-arched doorway framed by stone porch at E elevation. Substantial Doric-columned portico to 3-stage stair tower at W elevation; date plaque above inscribed 'Erected by James Duke of Roxburgh 1822'.

Multi-pane glazing to 2-leaf timber doors and windows at first floor; decorative cast iron fan-lights to round-arch openings. Predominantly 12-pane glazing to timber sash and case windows elsewhere. Cast iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: changing rooms, weighing-in room and offices to ground floor, many with timber surround fireplaces. Wide stone stair rising to 1st floor from entrance to E. Duke and Duchess's room to E with carved frieze and white marble chimneypiece. Larger public room to W with ornate double plaster cornice and timber chimneypiece with columned jambs; large cast-iron grate. Hanging stone stair with late 20th century brick newel to NW corner tower.

Statement of Interest

The racecourse grandstand at Kelso is the finest example of its building type in Scotland and a particularly rare and important survival in a wider UK context. Constructed in 1822 to a design provided in 1778 by renowned architect John Carr, its classical form and profile survive relatively intact, as does the interior plan and decorative scheme. It is a very rare example of a 19th century racing grandstand still used for its intended purpose in the UK.

Features of architectural distinction include the rusticated arcade to ground floor, classically proportioned round-arched openings to 1st floor, decorative cast-iron railings and awning posts, Doric porticoed stair tower, and remarkably intact interior, all adding significantly to its interest. Unusual for its relatively close proximity to the race track, the design incorporates a separate viewing room for patrons the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe which is reached by a private stone stair to the East, adding further to the interest of the building.

John Carr was one of the most competent and successful British architects of the end of the 18th century. His designs for Kelso Races are comparable to his three earlier stands at Doncaster, Nottingham and York Races, none of which now survive.

The Kelso Races were established by Sir Alexander Don in 1751 at nearby Caverton. In 1777 a Society called the Caledonian Hunt was formed at Kelso which met twice a year. Around the time that John Carr provided his design for the grandstand to the first Earl of Minto, the Duke of Roxburghe transferred the racecourse from Caverton to Blakelaw, which is nearer Kelso but this proved to be an unpopular site. The Incorporated Trades of Kelso assisted with the construction of the racecourse when it moved for the final time to its present location. A plain additional stand was appended to the W elevation in 1968.

List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).

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