Six months after work officially got underway on Newmarket’s Home of Horseracing project, at the town’s Palace House Stables, the next phase of the £15 million scheme celebrating Newmarket’s unique sporting history, is about to begin.
Major contracts for the fitting out of the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art, have gone out for tender with the project set for completion by the end of next year and opened to the public in the spring of 2016.
The five acre site, last used as a training yard in 1985, will become the new home for the town’s National Horseracing Museum as well as accommodating live racehorses from the Retraining of Racehorses charity in the historic Rothschild Yard and the site’s extensive paddocks.
Project manager for GRAHAM construction Martin Flynn is no stranger to the refurbishment of historical sites.
“This is our seventh in ten years,” said Martin, who is particularly proud of the company’s 2007 £8.5 million restoration of Belfast’s Ulster Hall.
Touring the site on Friday, Peter Jensen, chairman of the Home of Horseracing Trust, said: “I think the contractors are doing a splendid job and i can see the project evolving into what we always hoped it would be. If you had told me nine years ago when I first got involved in this that we would build what we are building now I would not have believed you.”
The centre is expected to attract between 40,000 and 50,000 visitors a year and is being specifically designed to appeal to a wide audience, especially families and young people, as well as attracting racegoers into the town centre.
Cllr Warwick Hirst, Forest Heath District Council’s cabinet member for health, leisure and culture added: “It is going to be something of which Newmarket can be truly proud and I believe that as well as celebrating our unique sporting heritage, it will bring real prosperity to the town justifying Forest Heath’s decision to buy it all those years ago.”
Forest Heath acquired the stables between 1992 and 1994 for £475,000 and, in total, has invested £3,545,000 in the site.
The total project cost is £15 million with more than £8 million raised from private individuals, trusts and other donations.
Further funding has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£4.25 million), Forest Heath District Council (£1.28 million) and Suffolk County Council (£1 million).