As we enter the autumn it is not only the natural seasons which change – it is a time at which our sporting focus shifts from summer to winter sports. Rugby union and football take over again as cricket and golf become mere summer weather memories, and National Hunt racing becomes the focus rather than the flat racing of the summer months. Sporting venues range from the ultra modern, like the new Tottenham Hotspur soccer stadium in London when it finally opens, to the historic like the racecourse at Chester (The Roodee) which dates back to 1511. In every sport there will be the smallest, largest, oldest, highest and newest ‘record’ venues, and every county has its own record sporting locations. Typically the oldest venues relate to horse racing or golf, which are some of the longest established sports in the UK.
In the large metropolitan counties like Greater London venues are on a large scale of course, and are easy to visit, sometimes with official organised tours (although getting tickets for events might be more problematical!). Unsurprisingly the largest sports stadium in London is Wembley Stadium in north west London – the new stadium completed in 2007 is the largest stadium in the UK and has a capacity of 90,000 (Grid Reference TQ19308560). Three other stadiums in Greater London have capacities over 50,000 -Twickenham (82,000), the London Stadium (66,000) and the Emirates Stadium (60,000), and the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will have a capacity of 62,000. But where is the oldest sporting venue in Greater London? Interestingly it dates from 1625, and is the Real Tennis court at Hampton Court Palace in Richmond-upon-Thames – and this was built to replace the original one constructed in 1528 for Cardinal Wolsey. The club is a private members club, but it is open for visitors to view (Grid Reference TQ15726863).
In the rural counties the record sporting ancestry may be less obvious, and the venues are typically less grand. Worcestershire, in the West Midlands has a range of sporting venues with a long history. The oldest is Worcester race course, the Pitchcroft next to the River Severn, where horse racing was first held in 1718, and which has held at least annual race meetings since 1755 (Grid Reference SO84205530). The county is also home to a world record historical sporting venue. The village of Shelsley Walsh in the west of the county is the world’s oldest operational motor sport venue, for its Motor Hill Climb events have been operated since 1905 over the 1km 1 in 9.14 hill to the west of the village (Grid Reference SO72106310). And the largest sports stadium in Worcestershire? Well that’s the Sixways Stadium in Worcester, the home of Worcester Warriors rugby union club, which was opened in 1975, and has a capacity of about 12,000 (Grid Reference SO88905750).
What are the oldest and largest sporting venues in your own county?
The Must Get Out More Question !
Where is the highest altitude football stadium in the Premier League Football League or Scottish League?
The Answer to the Last Question
What is the easternmost settlement in each of the four home countries (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)?
The easternmost settlements in each of the home countries are
England and the UK Lowestoft, Norfolk 1°45’23””E (Grid Reference TM55179326)
Northern Ireland Portavogie, Co Down 5°26’33”W (Grid Reference NW76971269)
Scotland Bruray, on the Out Skerries islands east of Shetland 0°45’16”W
(Grid Reference HU68687175))
Mainland Scotland Peterhead, Aberdeenshire 1°46’28”W
(Grid Reference NK13624612)
Wales Chepstow, Gwent 2°40’06””W (Grid Reference ST53849406)
The Record Locations
You can use the Grid References provided to locate record locations on a map at www.streetmap.co.uk