Folkestone Racecourse

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Folkestone racecourse logo.jpg
Folkestone Racecourse logo
Location Westenhanger, Kent
Owned by Arena Leisure Plc
Screened on At The Races
Course type Flat
National Hunt
Official website
Grandstand seen from the station

Folkestone Racecourse was a thoroughbred horse racing venue in southeast England, until it closed in 2012. It is located in Westenhanger, by junction 11 of the M20 motorway and about two miles west of Folkestone. Since 2013 the venue has hosted the War and Peace show previously held at the Hop Farm at Beltring.[1]

The course remains closed and all running rail and steeplechase fences have been removed. In May 2016 it was revealed that the land covered by the racecourse forms part of a plan to develop and build housing.


The history of the Westenhanger estate dates back to 1035 when it was owned by King Canute. The 14th century Westenhanger Castle can still be seen next to the main grandstand.[citation needed]

The race course was established in 1898, and was a right-handed undulating oval with a run in of 3f and a 7f straight chute.[citation needed] The centre of the course is farmed, and has a reservoir fed by a pumping station on the west side of the oval. The East Stour river runs along the western edge of the oval and under the straight course.[citation needed]

In July 2012, Arena Leisure and Northern Racing, the lessees of the racecourse announced the closure of the racecourse as a temporary measure. Outdated facilities and the delay of a project to build houses on part of the site were given as the reasons for the closure. It was announced that a final decision would be made in 2013.[2] Folkestone held its last scheduled meeting on 18 December 2012.[3]

Arena Leisure stated in 2012 that the closure was temporary.[citation needed] In 2016 it was revealed that plans drawn up by Shepway Council include the racecourse area for building houses.[citation needed]

Use by RAF[edit]

The racecourse was first used by aviation when a flying meeting was held in September 1910, three aircraft were present watched by a large crowd.[4] Between 1940 and 1941 the racecourse was used as a decoy airfield with dummy aircraft placed to look like an active airfield.[4] On 23 April 1944 660 Squadron, an army cooperation squadron of the Royal Air Force, arrived at what was then known as RAF Westenhanger after the nearby village.[4] The squadron based in a tented camp was equipped with Auster Mark IV single-engined liaison aircraft and used the racecourse to practice operations with local army units.[4] On 12 July 1944 the squadron of 12 Austers escorted by a Supermarine Walrus rescue flying boat left Westenhangar for France.[4] The airfield was then restored back to use as a racecourse.[4] Rubble from wartime buildings can be seen on the north side of the straight course where it meets the oval.

Westenhanger Castle.


  1. ^ War and Peace Revival website (Retrieved 6 May 2013)
  2. ^ "Hereford and Folkestone racecourses to close". BBC News Online. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Folkestone Racecourse holds 'last' horse racing meeting". BBC News. 18 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Lee, David W. (2010). Action Stations Revisited, Volume 3 South East England. Crecy Publishing Ltd. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-85979-110-6. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°5′38″N 1°2′1″E / 51.09389°N 1.03361°E / 51.09389; 1.03361