Beverley Racecourse is stepping back in time to celebrate a distant era of racing on the Westwood. The course is recreating a raceday in 1960, from a time when the country began to emerge from the post-war blues into a new era of optimism.
The Bygone Beverley raceday, on May 7, the May Day Bank Holiday, will feature retro attractions such as a full-size carousel, swingboats, traditional side stalls and fortune telling, while racegoers can also expect surprises on the day from a host of entertaining characters.
Kate McKee, Marketing Manager at Beverley Racecourse, said: “We’re very excited about our new themed raceday, Bygone Beverley. We’re recreating the 7th May meeting from 1960 and celebrating racing as it used to be. There will be lots of free, traditional activities and entertainment for racegoers and families to enjoy and it will be a great way to spend the May Day Bank Holiday.”
Racegoers can try to outwit the street hustlers at a traditional Bunko Booth with fairground and racecourse scams, including Find the Lady, Prick the Garter and the Three Shell Game. The Bunco Booth is being brought to the racecourse by Sideshow Illusions and Proprietor Jon Marshall said: “We’re challenging Beverley racegoers to roll up to the Bunco Booth and try to beat Sam the Scam, whose motto is ‘heads I win, tails you lose’. He’s a master of sleight of hand, so you’ll need to have your wits about you! It’s all for fun and you won’t lose any money, but we guarantee lots of laughs.”
Yorkshire-based performers Mad Dog Jones & his Swing Band will get toes tapping and fingers snapping with a rousing selection of swing and jazz classics throughout the day, while the meeting will feature a period bookmakers’ stand and demonstration of tic-tac – the secret sign language of the racetrack.
Revellers can also get hands-on and meet a range of animals such as meerkats, lizards and snakes, courtesy of exotic animal specialists Reptile Life – harking back to a time when such creatures were often among the raceday attractions.
The racecourse has invited residents from three Beverley care homes – Beverley Parklands, Claremont House and Beverley Grange – to attend with their families for a nostalgic day out. Racing Welfare, the charity supporting the British racing workforce, is also co-ordinating retired stable staff to join the day with relatives. All the guests will enjoy the day in a dedicated area, with tea, coffee and cake.
Racecourse staff have carried out meticulous research to make the day as authentic as possible and are encouraging people to help by sharing their memories and photographs of Beverley Races in that era by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kate added: “It’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere on the day and all the staff are getting into the spirit and dressing up in the style of the times. We’re urging everyone to join us in wearing the fashions of the day. We’re posting style tips on our Facebook page and encouraging people to check out local charity shops for some vintage finds to wear.”
Bygone Beverley is one of the early fixtures of the season which Beverley Racecourse enters buoyed by being ranked among the best venues in the country for a day at the races.
Beverley was listed in the top 12 courses, out of 60 tracks across England and Wales, ranked alongside venues such as Ascot, Aintree and Cheltenham. Beverley was rated as “excellent” in the Racecourse Association’s annual assessment involving VisitEngland, which looks at all aspects of the visitor experience on raceday.
Tickets for Bygone Beverley, on Monday, May 7, and the rest of the fixtures are available to buy online or by calling the ticket hotline on 01482 867488. Racegoers are advised to book in advance, especially for the most popular meetings. Details of the full fixtures can be found here.