Construction on the £15 million Home of Horseracing project, which will transform Newmarket’s town centre, began on Monday.
The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art will see the regeneration of a five-acre site, including the Grade II listed Palace House - the last surviving element of Charles II’s racing palace - Palace House Stables, and the paddocks to the east of Palace Street, into an international attraction.
Partners and contractors attended a ground breaking event at Palace Yard, including Cllr Warwick Hirst, cabinet member for health, leisure and culture at Forest Heath District Council, which owns the site.
“The National Heritage Centre has gone from a dream to a drawing and then full-scale project,” he said.
“It can only have got so far thanks to terrific support from a huge range of people and organisations who all recognise the importance of Newmarket as the international centre for horseracing.”
Graham Construction will be working on the project, which has been funded by the district council, Suffolk County Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, trusts, private individuals and other donations.
The development will see the National Horseracing Museum and British Sporting Art Trust relocated from their current location, next to the Jockey Club, to the site.
It will include a new state-of-the-art horseracing museum and national gallery of British sporting art with paintings from private and public collections, including the Tate.
There will also be space, for the first time, to accommodate live horses from the Retraining of Racehorses charity on site as part of the visitor experience.
Peter Jensen, chairman of the Home of Horseracing Trust, said: “A huge amount of work has already taken place to get us to this point and, after eight years of fundraising, it is wonderful that we are now on our way.
“This is the first part of the story - the actual building work will take a year and then, following the installation of specialist exhibitions and displays, the museum will be moving over 8,000 objects to the site.”
The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, and be open to the public by early spring 2016.