Archive for July, 2013

This week when at Brighton races a chap was going round handing out leaflets about a group I’d not heard of – basically friends of the old Lewes racecourse. There was an exhibition about the course’s history five years ago in Lewes, which demonstrated that someone had gathered a vast amount of background information about it. It must have been successful in raising awareness of the course, as a club has been formed and plans are afoot to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the course’s closure with a major event next year.

The town used to be chock full of stables and there used to be enough horses in training to sustain the racecourses there and at Brighton. Lack of basic facilities, such as mains electricity, gas, drainage and running water, combined with a dearth of profitable fixtures and its similar nature to the Brighton track, led to its demise. The Levy Board, racing’s funding body, pulled the plug on it, but that was to Brighton’s gain. New stands were built there in the mid-60s. That was the last substantial investment there before Northern Racing took over the course in 1998, rescuing it from the brink of closure and spending £3m on improvements.

I received some cash from sales of the Bath book this week. Some time ago we’d given twenty books to a couple who sell racing books at Newbury, Cheltenham and other courses that I rarely get to. They’ve sold nearly all of them, so we are now all square financially. I only get very occasional sales now, for everyone who is likely to be interested in my books will have heard of them or bought them by now. It’s just as well I am not in this to make money!

More news about the Day photo albums next time.

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I’ve finished writing up the notes of my last Uttoxeter visit but I haven’t started composing yet! I can’t decide where to start. I trust this isn’t writer’s block.

I have arranged to take the Alfred Day photo albums that I secured at an auction to show the only family member I have tracked down. He is one of the very few people (other than me) who could be interested in these pictures. Although he is a busy man he kindly helped me with the Fontwell books, notably giving me first-hand information about one of the Day family members and showing me a very special family tree.

Interest in the family history is a trait of the Days themselves, for when I researched Alfred I found he and some of the other family members were very keen on delving into the family background. He had acquired letters written by or to them dated a hundred years before.

In the 1920s some of the Days commissioned the construction of a family tree in the form of an album with clever horizontally-cut pages. The remotest ancestor is on the back page, at the top. A series of slightly smaller pages in front of it, but with the tops cut away, show the next generation. Even smaller pages further in front show the following generation, and so on. It all works very well, so that the fifth or sixth generations are on the frontmost, smallest horizontal pages of all, with their ancestors visible above on the parts of the larger pages that are showing. The compiler spent years researching the subject and only a limited number of albums were produced. In my research I worked from a photocopy of the album, but I will enjoy the opportunity to see the original again.

If only we could match some pictures from my photo albums with the people in the family tree album.

Naturally some of the other branches of the family are still around, but with the album dating from 1928 there’d need to be some fresh detective work to trace the continuation of any of its branches. If I had more time I wouldn’t mind doing that, though I can’t give up the day (no capital D) job yet.

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