Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.
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THE RACKET COURT.
This place of recreation was built, by shares of £25 each, in 1822, and opened in the following year. The Racket Court, which is covered, is 112 feet in length, and 62 feet in breadth. Parallel to this is a large Billiard Room, with four dressingrooms, a convenient bath, and other necessary accommodations. Above is another large Billiard Room, with a dome light. A gallery adjoins, from which spectators may view the progress of the game in the court below. This building is approached by an entry in Newgate Street, and communicates by a private door with the Assembly-rooms, to which gentlemen may retire for refreshment. It is well lighted with gas, and is open from nine o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock at night. There are 59 proprietors; and the trustees are George Silvertop, Matthew Bell, Dixon Dixon, C. W. Bigge, and Thomas Fenwick, Esquires. At present, there are 48 annual subscribers, each of whom pays one guinea annually, and two guineas entrance. A committee is chosen from amongst the subscribers. (fn. 1)
The Newcastle Races are first mentioned in the common council books August 6, 1695, though they appear to have existed for some time before that period. They were then run upon Killingworth Moor; but on August 26, 1707, the common council resolved, "that for the future no cords be used or paid for att KillingworthMoore." In 1715, the town's plate, which was run for on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, was of the value of £25; but, in 1742, it was changed to a gold cup, "of fifty pounds value, excluding the fashion and making." The first royal purse of an hundred guineas was won by Cato, the property of George Bowes, Esq. on June 5, 1753.
In 1756, the corporation gave £75 towards putting the race-ground into good condition. In 1776, an elegant temporary stand was erected by Mr. William Loftus, for the accommodation of the ladies and gentlemen that attended the races; and, in 1800, the Grand Stand, an elegant stone edifice, was erected by a subscription of shares. It is handsomely fitted up, and from the galleries there is a fine view of the whole of the course. In 1812, the temporary stand belonging to the White Hart Inn, being crowded by nearly 100 persons, suddenly fell, when about 40 persons were hurt, part of them seriously. It is now carefully examined after its erection by the town's surveyor. A subscription was commenced in 1822, for the purpose of altering the race-course, so as to avoid ascending an awkward hill. This improvement has been effected, and the course now measures 1 mile, 6 furlongs, and 132 yards. The races are held in July, and continue for five days. Upwards of 120 tents are usually erected for the accommodation of the public.
THE BOTANICAL AND HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY, OF DURHAM, NORTHUMBERLAND, AND NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE.
This society, which was formed on April 5, 1824, consists of three classes of ordinary members: the first pay one guinea annually, the second 10s. 6d. and the third 5s. There are also honorary and corresponding members, not resident in the three counties. There are three patrons and 30 vice-patrons, who hold the office permanently; and one president, six vice-presidents, one treasurer, two secretaries, and 24 other committee-men, chosen annually. The principal object of this institution is the establishment of a Botanical and Horticultural Garden, of seven acres, the purchase and commencement of which, it was calculated, would cost £2520, and the permanent annual expenditure would be £420. On the supposition of renting a garden on lease, £1260 would be wanted for the first establishment, and £411, 12s. for its annual support. But as the subscription amounted only to £230, it was resolved to appropriate £150 of this sum, with all donations and future subscriptions beyond that amount, to the purpose of a sinking fund, for establishing an experimental garden; the balance of £80 annually to be expended in prizes, advertising, and other incidental expenses. The society holds six meetings in the year, for the exhibition of fruits, vegetables, or flowers. At the last anniversary, held in the assize-week (July 18, 1826), a balance of £294, 6s. 2d. remained in hand. The Transactions of the Society, with 14 Essays read at its meetings, are now in the press. This society has granted leave to practical gardeners and florists to form branch societies within its district, for the purpose of encouraging local improvements in the cultivation and management of gardens.