Back to Manchester Races
MANCHESTER RACES. English, Jig. North-West England. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The Manchester Races were once run on Kersall Moor, a common three miles northwest of Manchester, in Whitsun week from 1681 to 1847. Prior to that races had been held at Barlow Moor, on the southern border of Manchester, common so far back as 1647 (Richard Procter, Memorials of Manchester Streets, 1874). The racing was not continuous, for an anti-racing lobby succeeded in stopping the sport in Manchester for a period in the mid-18th century, but it resumed at Kersal Moor in 1760. The Manchester Cup was first run there in 1816, and a few years later there were permanent stands and rings. They held most years and were well attended by the 19th century, drawing many thousands of spectators. The races moved in 1847 to new grounds at nearby Castle Irwell, in a bend in the river, and were forced to move again (in 1867 to Salford) when the Irwell site was inherited by someone opposed to gambling. The races went in an out of fashion. As one writer complained "The Manchester races are entirely given up to the mill-hands" (Thomas Hay Sweet Escott, England: Her People Polity, and Pursuits, New York, 1880, p. 92), yet by the end of the 19th century the prestigious Lancashire Chase, a steeplechase, was an established event on Easter Mondays. Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show visited the Manchester tracks on two different occasions, proving so popular that it stayed on longer than intended. After the 1903 visit, a Blackfoot Indian by the name of Charging Thunder decamped from the show and settled in Salford, where his descendents are today. Racing finally closed down in Manchester in 1963, due to financial difficulties. The melody appears in Cahusac's Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1792 (London), along with dance figures.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Cahusac (Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1792), 1792; p. 7. Knowles (Northern Frisk), 1988; No. 56.