£15 racing heritage project gets go-ahead
It’s 150 years since the bells of Newmarket’s All Saints Church rang out in celebration of the Derby victory of Macaroni. Now the historic stable where he was trained has something else to celebrate.
The yard, reputedly the oldest racing stable in the world, which has been empty since 1985 and the retirement of its last incumbent, trainer Bruce Hobbs, is set to emerge from 30 years of dereliction.
A £15 million project, creating a national racing heritage centre, will breathe new life into its once pristine yards and see Newmarket’s best kept secret emerge after decades of decay.
Final approval for the scheme, given by Forest Heath District Council on Thursday, means work on the Home of Horseracing’s National Heritage Centre project will, subject to the remaining funding being raised, start this summer, with the centre opening in the second half of 2015.
Councillors heard that the project will generate more than £14 million of capital investment in the centre of town and create significant regeneration opportunities. The authority has contributed £1.3 million towards the scheme including £570,000 for design works.
Last year, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced it would be supporting the project to the tune of £4.25 million.
In detail, the finished project, which is expected to attract between 40 and 50,000 visitors a year, will have three elements.
Palace House Stables and the Trainer’s House will be restored to provide a new home for the town’s National Horseracing Museum and the nearby Palace House Mansion will be upgraded to national museum standards to house the collections of the British Sporting Art Trust and works of art from the Tate Gallery.
The Rothschild Yard, built by Leopold de Rothschild in 1903, and adjoining paddocks will be restored as a flagship home for the Retraining of Racehorses charity allowing the museum, for the first time, to have live horses on show.
As well as funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Forest Heath District Council, Suffolk County Council has pledged £1 million and more than £5 million has been raised from private individuals, trusts and donations.
A further £500,000 is expected to be ratified in April, which leaves just £700,000 to be raised before building can start.
Peter Jensen, chairman of the Home of Horseracing Trust, which is raising the funds for the project, said: “This is a marvellous next step in realising the dream of creating a national heritage centre in the heart of the town worthy of international recognition and status as the historic home of horseracing.
“A huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes to get to this stage and we are extremely excited about moving from planning the project to its delivery. We still have some funds to raise but, with 95 per cent secured, we really are entering the last furlong with a final push needed to get us over the line.”
Cllr Warwick Hirst, Forest Heath Cabinet member for health, leisure and culture, added: “This is a truly exciting project, which will not only transform the centre of Newmarket but also significantly add to the town’s reputation as the worldwide tourist destination for anything to do with the world of horseracing.
“Over the years there has been a tremendous amount of hard work by the council, as site freeholder and staunch supporter of the project, and those individuals and organisations whose generosity has meant we have achieved the amount needed to start the ball rolling.”
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Weather for Newmarket
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North