When sporting thrills came to a tragic end at Bromley Common Racecourse

PUBLISHED: 15:35 05 April 2013

George William Smith who was responsible for the specifications of Bromley racecourse's grandstand.

George William Smith who was responsible for the specifications of Bromley racecourse's grandstand.


Jumping the hurdle, the thoroughbred landed awkwardly on its left side, trapping its rider, Walter Robinson.

This accident occurred in December 1873 during one of the races held at Bromley Common Racecourse, close to Princes Plain.

Horse races had been held in the Bromley area from the 18th century, when they were run in the grounds of Turpington Farmhouse, Bickley.

In 1864, William Pawley, landlord of the White Hotel, Bromley, was responsible for the building of a racecourse with a spectators’ stand at Coopers Farm.

The site was constructed by William Smith & Sons, of 25 Cross Road, Bromley. Races were held four times a year, each being a two-day event.

George William Smith was responsible for the grandstand specification. He was also a keen photographer and historian, often giving lantern slide lectures.

His slides are now in the collection of Bromley Local Studies and Archives.

The Steeplechase course was described as a severe one and casualties were not uncommon.

Robinson, from Epsom, was taken to Bromley Cottage Hospital following the accident to be treated for injuries to his spine and brain, but he died there soon afterwards. He was about 29 years old.

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