The History and Decline of Greyhound Racing in Warwick and the UK
Greyhound racing has been popular across the UK since it was introduced from the United States in 1926. The sport reached its peak in the UK during the 1930s and 1940s and was a regular occurrence in many areas of the UK. This was particularly true of Warwickshire, with races regularly held at the Warwick greyhound stadium. Unfortunately, there are no longer any greyhound races in Warwick, as the stadium closed down in 2007.
While there are no longer any dog racing stadiums in Warwick, those who enjoy the sport can still watch plenty of races in nearby Swindon. The Swindon greyhound stadium is one of the largest in the UK and it holds numerous events throughout the year. It’s just over an hour’s drive from Warwick with races being held on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
The Warwick Greyhound Stadium
The Warwick greyhound stadium was constructed in 1955. However, races were being held on the site since the sport was introduced to the UK in the 1920s. When the stadium was built in 1955, it was one of the first independent tracks in the whole country.
Big races at the Warwick stadium included the Warwick St Ledger and the Warwick Derby, both of which drew crowds from the surrounding area. The track circumference was 360 metres, and six dog races were held over 90, 275, 450, 610, and 810 metres.
However, due to the decline in popularity of the sport along with increased taxes, the last race at Warwick stadium took place in 2005. Although it remained in use as a training track, it finally closed down for good in 2007. The stadium remains on the site, although the track itself is now heavily overgrown and in a state of disrepair.
Why Interest in Greyhound Racing has Declined
As mentioned earlier, greyhound racing was popular in the UK since the first races in the 1920s. And while it is still popular today, there has been a steady decline in the number of people attending race meets, and this can be seen in the closure of stadiums like Warwick Greyhound Stadium. There are a number of reasons for this decline.
Dog racing has traditionally been more of a sport for the working class. This has led to it being met with challenges that sports horse racing has not had to face. For example, The National Anti-Gambling League and even Winston Churchill were opposed to the sport, and divided governance meant that dog racing couldn’t fight back against unfair taxes imposed against it.
These factors would have begun to affect the sport and stunt its potential for growth back in the 1950s and 60s..
In modern times, one of the main reasons for the sport’s decline in popularity is the rise in alternative forms of entertainment. People did not have the huge choice of entertainment options that we have today. A day or evening at the races was much more commonplace since many people at the time would not have owned television sets or been able to afford more expensive activities like eating out in restaurants or going to clubs.
On top of this, the increased availability of the internet means that those who are interested in betting on racing can do so from the comfort of their own homes. Other racing sports such as horse racing have also seen a similar decline, although big races such as the Grand National and Royal Ascot remain popular with a lot of the public.
Aside from that, societal attitudes towards animal welfare have also changed over the years. The vegan lifestyle has grown considerably and many people believe that any exploitation of animals is wrong. There are now movements to help rehome greyhounds that were previously used for racing and were treated poorly by their handlers.
The Future of Greyhound Racing in the UK
The decreasing popularity of greyhound racing in the UK means that the sport is now just 10% of what it was at the start of the 1960s with many major stadiums having closed over the years. However, there are still many people who enjoy watching and betting on the races each week. The Swindon greyhound stadium sees good turnouts for races midweek and on the weekend, and it’s been successful by offering great prices on food and drink as well as a relaxed and entertaining atmosphere.
If greyhound racing is to survive in the UK, the sport needs to do more to encourage families and younger generations to get involved. While other forms of entertainment have become easier to access, greyhound racing can still thrive by offering something different. There are few other experiences quite like a night at the races. Aside from this, it’s important that the sport does more to clean up its image and ensure that animal welfare is a priority at every racetrack around the country.
This is a submitted article