Harden Moss Racecourse, Meltham
Harden Moss Racecourse, sometimes referred to as the "Meltham Racecourse", is a former racecourse track situated off Greenfield Road (A635) in the fields behind the Huntsman Inn.
The racecourse was part of the former Harden Moss Estate and comprised a 900 yard oval track around Harden Hill.
The initial plan for a racecourse had been the idea of solicitor Frederick R. Jones, who cleared the trees on Harden Hill (part of the Harden Green Plantation) to make room for the track, although reportedly never fully completed the course. The Chronicle reported that the Huddersfield Corps of Volunteers held a "sham fight" in July 1879, which included a skirmish on Harden Hill "on a large patch of moorland — called the racecourse, we believe."
It wasn't until the 1890s that Robert Taylor of the nearby Wood Cottage Hotel completed the laying out of the 900 yards course and erected a wooden grandstand for spectators. The stand was sited on the western edge of the track, which unfortunately meant that the horses would disappear from view behind rise of the hill.
Two inaugural trotting races took place on Monday 22 September 1895, as part of the Honley Feast, and attracted an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 spectators. Both races were won by "Jolly Boy" at odds of 2 to 1, with "Just in Time" and "Stanley R" disqualified by the judges for breaking into a gallop.
The second set of races took place on the afternoon of 11 November 1895, with a prize of 30 sovereigns on offer. Around 500 spectators attended and 29 horses took park, with Mr. Gordon of Sporting Chronicle acting as the judge. The winner was "Charlie W" owned by W. S. Walshaw of Wigan.
The last official race may have been the trotting meeting held in September 1896 when, due to recent poor weather, only around 500 people attended. Another factor in the ending of racing may have been that Taylor was repeatedly refused an "occasional licence" to sell alcohol after a policeman was assaulted at the inaugural race. Superintendent Pickard had complained that "there was plenty for [the police] and officials to do in keeping the people [at the race] quiet without having liquor on the course."
By 1904, the course was marked as disused on the 1906 Ordnance Survey map although the grandstand was still standing at that time.
The Harden Moss Estate was placed up for sale in 1908 with a guide price of £3,700, including the Wood Cottage Hotel, Model Farm, and 360 acres of land (which presumably included the field with the racecourse).
In June 1915, the Huddersfield Examiner noted that the recently formed 168th Brigade (Huddersfield) of the Royal Artillery would soon be departing for exercises and suggested that the "Harden Moss racecourse [...] would be admirably suited to artillery drill and training."
The course may have been used as a filming location for the locally-produced White Star (1915).
The disused track later formed part of the Harden Moss Fell Race, which included two laps of the former racecourse.
Notes and References
- The Yorkshire 272 Ordnance Survey map of 1854 shows the hill mostly covered in trees.
- "Volunteer Sham Fight at Harden Moss" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (14/Jul/1879).
- "The Harden Moss Races" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (24/Sep/1895).
- "Local News: Marsden Moss Racecourse" in Huddersfield Chronicle (09/Nov/1895).
- "Trotting Handicap at Harden Moss" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (13/Nov/1895).
- Online newspaper archives are missing issues from 1897.
- "Harden Moss Races" in Huddersfield Chronicle (26/Sep/1896).
- "Harden Moss Racecourse" in Huddersfield Chronicle (12/Sep/1896).
- "Sales by Private Contact" in Yorkshire Post (05/Sep/1908).
- "The Huddersfield R.F.A. Brigate" in Huddersfield Daily Examiner (15/Jun/1915).
- "Test of Stamina: Saturday's Fell Race at Harden Moss" in Yorkshire Evening Post (20/Jun/1940).