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Archive for November, 2013

No more writing has been done since my last entry, but I have been up and down the country collecting fresh information from three libraries and filling in gaps in my understanding. I renewed acquaintance with some of my Uttoxeter contacts, not seen since June, who were splendidly helpful and hospitable as always. A long lunch with them in a country pub invoked a feeling of wellbeing that wasn’t conducive to going back to the library for some more swotting, so I set sail for home and enjoyed the drive through tranquil Staffordshire countryside – until I had to face up to the M1.

Earlier I talked to Sam from the racecourse about the work that lies ahead to physically produce the book. I want to get the pictures agreed in good time and I am doing a list of those I have so far. I have work to do to find the owners of some I’ve seen in books published a long time ago that I’d like to use.

I also met the students making the documentary about the racecourse as part of their degree studies. It has to be five minutes in duration, so when we positioned ourselves on the balcony of one of the racecourse’s hospitality boxes for them to film some questions and answers, I was prepared to answer a few, but thirty questions and three quarters of an hour later, they reached the end of their list. It was tougher than Mastermind. They explained they have to get a lot of material on film before editing it down to the essentials – a comparable exercise to what I’m doing with my research.

Now I have a quantity of handwritten notes to type up and think about where they might go in the text, plus the work described above and supplying answers to questions posed by others while on my travels.

I heard of another racing history blogger who lost all his blogs when something went wrong with his host’s servers. Luckily for him somebody else had been saving them all and the blog could be restored. I am not sure I’m going to save all mine, for I feel mine are mere snapshots; if they were on paper they’d be meant to be read one day and used for wrapping chips the next.

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The Uttoxeter wordcount is up to 30,000, but still the feeling that I’m not doing enough!  In the next few weeks I will be taking time out to go to Staffordshire and fill in some of the gaps in the research.  My itinerary is pretty well set and I hope that my much-repaired car will behave itself on the long journey.

I’ve raised the subject of the racecourse’s history with the Council, insofar as it involves local government, and hope to have a discussion with them about it.

I hear that some university students are planning to make a short film about the history of the racecourse, so I am on standby in case they need me.  It would be interesting if they could come up with some fresh sources, such as old newsreel of the track.  I could do with more old pictures or films of the place.

A second request for information about the effect of WW1 on racing has come to me.  It looks like next year everyone will want to commemorate the centenary of the start of the war.  It wasn’t declared until August 1914 but I expect the subject will have been thoroughly explored well before August 2014.

I’ve been successful with a couple more auction bids, for items to do with racecourses I’ve written about before.  Or rather, they were successful in terms of getting what I wanted, but not in terms of the price paid.  One item cost much more than I’d anticipated.  That may have been due to the item in question being featured in a newspaper article the week before the auction.  I wonder who the other bidder(s) were, and what was their motivation.

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