Northolt Park, Ealing/Harrow
A post-war municipal housing project constituting the northern part of Northolt – and once the centre of British pony racing
South Harrow and Roxeth station opened here in 1926 and the station gained its present name in 1929, the same year in which a neighbouring farm was converted into Northolt Park racecourse – the national centre for the new sport of pony racing. The sport was cheaper to run than horseracing and the track’s excellent facilities attracted large crowds over the next decade.
There was little racing after the outbreak of the Second World War and in 1940 the government requisitioned the site to intern Italian prisoners, later converting it to an army camp.
Attempts to restart pony racing after the war were thwarted by Ealing council’s determination to use the land to ease its housing shortage. The council compulsorily purchased the site for £250,000, although the start of building was delayed for several years by the tardy withdrawal of the military.
At the same time Harrow council laid claim to part of the site for its own council-house building programme. The first 64 houses were built in late 1951 in the north-west of the site and the grandstand was demolished in 1955.
Ealing council eventually built around 1,200 homes on the Racecourse estate and Harrow council contributed another 200. Blocks of flats were added later on Newmarket Avenue. Apart from the street names (mostly famous British racecourses), little evidence of the racetrack remains here. One of the stands was dismantled and moved to Brands Hatch motor-racing circuit.
The film and music hall star George Formby rode at Northolt Park in 1938 and returned the following year to make the Ealing Studios film Come On George, performing all his own stunts.
Postcode area: Northolt UB5
Station: Chiltern Railways (zone 5)
Recommended video: End of season pony racing at Northolt Park, 1934