Crowds at the Musselburgh Races in July 1957.
Crowds at the Musselburgh Races in July 1957.

Musselburgh races: Here are 20 pictures showing what the famous East Lothian racecourse looked like over half a century ago

It’s the second biggest racecourse in Scotland (after Ayr) and has a history dating back almost 250 years – and there was plenty going on at the Musselburgh races in the 1950s and 1960s.

The first races in Musselburgh took place in 1777, although between 1789 and 1816 the Royal Caledonian Hunt moved the majority of races moved to Leith.

They returned permanently to a new course in the town in 1816 and were so delighted with the layout that they gifted 50 guineas to the town’s poor.

Racing has continued at Musselburgh ever since, although the rise of off-course betting shops in the 1960s led to it being threatened with closure.

But, unlike course like Lanark and Bogside, it struggled on, although falling attendences meant it continued to lose money until the 1991 when it was taken over by East Lothian Council.

The council managed to get the course breaking even within a singe year, teaming up with the Lothian Racing Syndicate to create the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee that still runs operations today.

A £7.5million refurbishment stated in 1995 – adding the new Queen’s Stand and Links Pavilion, giving the Edwardian Grandstand a makeover, and creating a new weighing room, entrance complex, parade ring, stables and groundstaff facilities.

Officially called ‘Edinburgh Racecourse’ until 1996, it had been referred to as Musselburgh for decades before the name change.

Today it hosts both flat racing and National Hunt meetings on its 2km long course that has a nine-hole golf course dating back to at least 1672, called Musselburgh Links, in the middle of it.

More than 70,000 now enjoy going to the races there each year, almost twice as many spectators as 20 years ago.

Here are 20 pictures to take you back to the course in the 1950s and 1960s.

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