Trophy for the winner of Scarborough Races

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by Jeannie Swales

This magnificent silver trophy was presented to the winner of Scarborough Races in 1850 by the race’s founder, Lord Londesborough.

On one side it is inscribed with the words ‘Presented by the Right Honourable Lord Londesborough K.C.H’, and on the other ‘Scarborough Races 1850’. Its lid is capped by a beautiful silver mare and foal.

Lord Londesborough organised the race for his tenants and it was held on the sands of the South Bay. The cup, weighing in at a hefty 48oz (1,360g), was won by Captain R Crowe and was purchased in 1962 by the then Scarborough Corporation from his great-nephew Mr TJ Crowe of Bridlington for the sum of 75 guineas.

Races were held on the sands at Scarborough from time to time from the 18th century onward, with the Spa terrace providing a wonderful vantage point for the crowds, but in 1873 the Scarborough Racecourse Company, with a capital of £2,000, laid out a course at Seamer Moor just off Racecourse Road.

Unfortunately, the races attracted a criminal element with much theft and rowdy behaviour; in 1893, they were suspended. An attempt was made to revive them in 1906, but it failed and racing ceased altogether in 1907. Until the 1930s point-to-point meets were held at the racecourse, but these also ceased after the stadium burned down in 1935.

Lord Londesborough was more properly known as William Henry Forester Denison, the first Earl of Londesborough, Viscount Raincliffe of Raincliffe, and Baron Londesborough of Londesborough. He was the Liberal MP for Scarborough in 1859 and 1860. He set up the Cricket Festival and brought the Gentlemen Players to Scarborough at his own expense.

Lord Londesborough was a good judge of horseflesh and championed selective breeding programmes. His summer residence was Londesborough Lodge on The Crescent in Scarborough, where he entertained Queen Victoria’s son the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, on two occasions in the 1870s.

The trophy is part of Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects that have been acquired by the borough over the years. They are used by researchers ranging from professional to amateur academics, freelance writers producing articles for magazines to television production companies, students studying art, costume design, geology, history, and tourism. If you have an enquiry or would like access to the collections please contact Karen Snowden, Head of Collections on 01723 384506, or Karen.snowden@smtrust.co.uk.