The Racecourse is part of Durham University's sports facilities. It contains squash, tennis and fives courts, cricket, rugby, hockey and football pitches and rowing houses. It is located along the River Wear and has been used as a sports ground since at least 1733.
As well as use by Durham University, the Racecourse is known for hosting two annual events, the Durham Regatta and Durham Miners' Gala. Its cricket ground is used for first class cricket and is the home of Durham University Centre of Cricketing Excellence (Durham UCCE).
The Racecourse was first recorded as being used for horse racing in 1733; previously the site had been a smithy for the Prior of Durham. At its peak, the course had a stone grandstand and attracted 90,000 spectators for a two-day event in 1873. The Racecourse was also used for other sports in the Nineteenth Century, notably cricket and the Durham Regatta. The land is now owned by the University, which has used it as sports field since the early twentieth century.
Durham Miners' Gala
Durham Miners' Gala was first held at the Racecourse in 1872, which was the gala's second edition. All editions of the gala have since been held at the Racecourse. The event is typically held in mid July, though has on occasions been held in August. The Racecourse is the location of the speeches held at the culmination of the Gala march. At its peak, 250,000 people attended the Gala.
The Racecourse's most significant facility is its cricket ground. It had the honour of hosting Durham’s first match as a first-class county in 1992, against Leicestershire. Between 1992 and 1994, Durham played seven games there in the County Championship, seven List A games and a three-day game against Australia. Since Durham moved into The Riverside Ground, which was completed in 1995, the ground has changed purpose to host many of Durham UCCE’s matches, which has so far included eleven first-class matches as well as their games in the Northern Rock North East Premier League. In 2007, it also hosted a game between the touring West Indies team and the MCC.
Game Type No. of Games County Championship Matches 7 Limited-over county matches 8 MCC University Matches 20 Tour matches 1
Game Statistics: first-class:
Category Information Highest Team Score West Indies (534/8dec against MCC) in 2007 Lowest Team Score Durham UCCE (46 against Nottinghamshire) in 2006 Best Batting Performance Runako Morton (201 Runs for West Indies against MCC in 2007 Best Bowling Performance Simon Brown (7/70 for Durham against Australia) in 1992
Game Statistics: one-day matches:
Category Information Highest Team Score Surrey (330/6 in 39 overs against Durham) in 1992 Lowest Team Score Derbyshire (169 in 44 overs against Durham) in 1993 Best Batting Performance Darren Bicknell (125 Runs for Surrey against Durham) in 1992 Best Bowling Performance Neil Lenham (5/28 for Sussex against Durham) in 1993
- Simpson, David (2008-11-28). "Exploring the city racecourse with no horses". Northern Echo. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
- Durham City History Durham City Tourism; Accessed 18-04-08
- Durham Miners' Gala Durham Miners' Museum; accessed April 18, 2008
- Durham v Leicestershire in 1992 Cricket Archive; 2007; accessed April 18, 2008
- The Racecourse, Durham University Grounds, Durham Cricket Archive; accessed April 18, 2008
- MCC v. West Indies ECB; accessed April 18, 2008