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Picture : Through the ages- Cottenham’s stand in its heyday; in its current state; and how it could look as a house

Historic site in England set for transformation into four-bedroom house

The Racing Post

Racing fans could get a unique opportunity to live in a near century-old racecourse grandstand, with plans in place to turn the closed building at Cottenham racecourse into a four-bedroom home.

The Cambridgeshire track had held point-to-point fixtures since Victorian times but closed in 2020. It staged the National Hunt Chase, now held at the Cheltenham Festival, twice during the 1870s, and the grandstand was built in 1925 as part of ambitions – which did not come to fruition – to turn Cottenham from a point-to-point track into a professional racecourse.

The stand is now set to be converted into a two-storey house designed to create a “fitting memory” to Cottenham’s racing history. The plans feature four ground-floor bedrooms, three en-suites and a bathroom, while the upstairs will have an open-plan kitchen and living room with a large patio looking out over the old racecourse. The main structure of the building will be retained, as will doors and windows, and the large speakers kept as a memento.

The master’s hut building, which was used for hospitality, a sick bay and female changing room are set to be knocked down and replaced with a garage and home office, while an unpaved track will be upgraded to a road.

It has been designed by locally based NP Architects for Michael Gingell, the land owner and long-time chairman of the track. He inherited the racecourse from his parents and retired when the track closed, his work there having also included clerking. 

His initial plans, through property developers Dakin Estates Ltd, were to turn the stand into an office building, although the advice was against that project due to a lack of demand.

Developer Nick Dakin said: “The grandstand itself was built around 90 years ago in an attempt to turn Cottenham into a professional, commercial racecourse, but the attempt failed due to the proximity of courses at Newmarket and Huntingdon, so Cottenham returned to its amateur point-to-point status. Albeit, by point-to-point standards, it had a very fine grandstand.

“Far from being just a viewing platform, the grandstand had doors, windows, plumbing, drainage and electricity and, inside, a weighing-in room, jockeys’ changing rooms, offices for stewards and secretaries, and toilets. On racedays its interior was a hive of activity.

“The design of the proposed conversion will honour the grandstand’s previous use, retaining the same build form and reusing existing windows and doors. It is earnestly hoped the finished conversion will keep alive the memory of, and provide a fitting memorial to, the long tradition of racing at Cottenham.”

Cottenham: around 6,000 spectators in attendance at a fixture in the 1950s
Cottenham staged three meetings a season and was so popular in the 1800s that special trains ran from London to nearby Waterbeach station. Attendances of around 6,000 were recorded in the 1950s, but the track’s popularity decreased over time and only 1,200 were there for its final fixture.
The racecourse has had issues with vandalism in recent years, with one incident before its closure causing £14,000 worth of damage.

The redevelopment is subject to approval from South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Cottenham’s major change – in pictures

Cottenham: a busy raceday in the 1940s


The modern-day Cottenham after the racecourse closure in 2020
Plans to redevelop Cottenham into a two-storey house