Fitzroy Racecourse

St Georges Road, Thornbury

In 1891 W. Byrne and P. Callaghan purchased 30 acres of land on the west side of St. Georges Road to establish a pony racing track. The track was five furlongs long and included a grandstand capable of seating 500 people.

Horse racing was not a new pastime in Darebin with races being held as early as the 1860s. In June 1891 two men even conducted their own private horse race down High Street from the Junction Hotel, the prize money being £5. The original name of the racecourse had been the Croxton Racecourse (appropriate as it was close to Croxton railway station), however to help draw the crowds from inner Melbourne it was soon renamed the Fitzroy Racecourse, even though Fitzroy was several suburbs away. At the time St. Georges Road was considered very much the backblocks of Northcote. The racecourse was initially very successful and drew in crowds from near and far. By the turn of the century the Northcote Council was becoming less enamoured of the racecourse, believing that it was drawing in the lower elements of society.

In 1919 the Victorian Trotting and Racing Course purchased the racecourse as its critics continued to plot its demise. In 1929 the Victorian Government introduced legislation to close the racecourse on the grounds that it was too small.  In 1931 the grounds closed. The land remained vacant until after the Second World War and was then subdivided for housing.

Lemon, Andrew. (1983). Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.

Membrey, Brian. (2003). The Pubs, the Parks and the Rose. [unpublished manuscript].