History of the Horses on in the West End of Lincoln

During the High Medieval and Early Modern Eras much of the land in the Character Area and to the west of the city was held in ‘common’. It was farmed and used for grazing by inhabitants of Lincoln who possessed common rights to make use of the open land.

Horses were used in the area when there was a demand to move items via cart, in and out of the area – this was before the West End part of Lincoln became a lot more residential.

In the mid to late 1800s when more residential dwellings were being built and the West End area was being expanded with more of the roads, which we can access today, there was a significant need for more accommodation for horses as more modern vehicles were still a novelty for a lot of people. For example, tradesmen in the new West End area relied on horses to pull delivery carts to move items in and around Lincoln, along with many other businesses and individuals who also required them to complete daily tasks.

Many of the later stable buildings can still be seen in the West End, however, some are hard to recognise in their current appearance. For example, there was a large stable yard on the site now occupied by Aqua House on Harvey Street. Other identifiable stables can be seen at number 26 Wellington Street (these are awaiting demolition/conversion to housing), and on Newland Street West which remain virtually unaltered.

The Racecourse

The racecourse which closed in 1964 (relocating to Doncaster Racecourse) had a long history in Lincoln. It was established by the Lincoln Corporation on West Common in 1773, with the Grade II listed grandstand being built in 1867 (it is now used as a community centre).

The racecourse held almost 200 years of flat-racing, and it’s abrupt closure caused a lot of controvacy in Lincoln. However, after its closure the course was used for point-to-point racing until 1991.

A notable aspect to show the significance of Lincoln Racecourse was the involvement of King James I in 1607. He acted as Clerk of the Course, which meant he was responsible for track management and race day preparations.

Modern Day

Nowadays there are a lot of similarities with the horses and West Common to what it was like in the early modern era.

Although there is clearly no longer a need for horses to pull carriages, there is still a need for local residents to house their horses in a suitable location. Therefore, with the correct registration with the council, residents of Lincoln can graze horses on the common freely.

There is also the historic riding school on Newland Street West called Park Riding School, which allows riders of all ages and abilities to join them and the horses on West Common to improve riding skills. The link to their website can be found here. They also offer discounts for students and are a wonderful group of people/horses!

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