Thursday, 21 February 2019

John Carr's Grandstand

Noted Yorkshire architect, John Carr (1723–1807), is best known for his Palladian designs for an extensive portfolio of domestic works including Harewood House, the crescent at Buxton, Welbeck Abbey, Aske Hall and Wentworth Woodhouse.  He also designed public buildings, churches and bridges.  Amongst his lesser-known achievements was designing the first grandstand built for a sporting venue – in 1753 for York’s Knavesmire Racecourse.  It opened in 1756 and its lower storey still survives, now a Guinness bar.  It was followed by the grandstand at Richmond in 1755, now a ruin; and others for Nottingham and Doncaster in 1777, both later demolished.  In 1778 Carr provided plans to the Earl of Minto for a racecourse at Blakelaw near Kelso, but these were not used until racing was moved, in 1822, by invitation of the Duke of Roxburghe to the current Kelso Racecourse at Berrymoss.  The John Carr stand at Kelso is the last remaining, the finest example of its building type in Scotland, and a rare and important survival in a wider UK context.  Its classical form and profile survive relatively intact, as does the interior plan and decorative scheme.  It is a very rare example of a 19th century racing grandstand still used for its intended purpose.  Smith & Garratt are delighted to be commissioned to produce measured and condition surveys of this special building in advance of comprehensive conservation-based repairs.