Charterhall circuit plea
Posted 21 February 2003 - 20:20
If anyone has any words or pictures of Charterhall, or raced at the circuit, or has any information,or experiences of the place,please post,so that it can be passed on
Posted 23 February 2003 - 09:56
"How about the Charterhall circuit? That’s the question most people ask. I has a word with Mike Hawthorn and Jack Walton and as they managed to chalk up awards they should be the soundest judges. Hawthorn found the track very bumpy and considered that racing on it was very hard work. However, he also remarked that it compared favourably with a large number of English circuits. Walton commented that he found certain sections fairly bumpy, didn’t like the camber at Tofts Turn and reckoned Paddock Bend was pretty stony. In practice during the morning the sun was really warm and melted the tar on Lodge Corner but the sky clouded a little in the afternoon and this section hardened again"
Race winners at this meeting included Mike Hawthorn (Cooper-Bristol), Ninian Sanderson (F3 Cooper Norton), JN Lawrence (Cooper MG sports), Jack Walton (Frazer Nash).
Do Border Ecosse still run the Charterhall Stages there - I remember going to one in the 1990s and noticing the old starting grid markings fading on the tarmac. Is some 50th anniversary celebration being planned?
Posted 24 February 2003 - 20:08
It was a WW2 airfield (like so many UK circuits) although it is privately owned by a farmer the M.O.D. still to this day retain the rights to reuse it for RAF activities should they wish (highly unlikely though that is ) but they refuse to maintain it. Circuit racing ended in 1965, but it continued for testing and as a Rally stage venue.
Alan seeks helpers for actual work in restoration as well as financial donations for materials and contractors, but also very importantly enough material to write a history of the circuit for a small book and publicity material, also someone who could give up their time without any pay to start and run a website for the project, or indeed help with the writing.
We are desperately short of independently owned motor racing circuits in this country for club racing at low costs without bureauracy, - we really cannot afford to lose this one.
If anyone can help in anyway ,let us know and it will be passed on.
Posted 26 February 2003 - 19:10
This thread on Jimmy Somervail
could be of interest.
Border Ecosse could apply for a grant for venue improvements from the MSA Development Fund (Lottery Money), it would be worth trying.
If you’d like to e-mail or PM me, I might be able to help Alan on the historical research.
Posted 27 February 2003 - 20:17
Posted 01 March 2003 - 16:23
Does anyone have any photos of it in its heyday - both Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart would have been regulars in their early days.
Where are you Jackie? - fancy investing in a circuit in Scotland - for 1/500th of the proceeds of Stewart Grand Prix the track could be resurfaced.
Anyone live near enough to post some photos of the circuit today -- I'm 400 miles away!
Posted 02 March 2003 - 11:20
Another, much closer, old northern track, about six miles from here, is the old Ouston airfield which was used for two or three years in the sixties. Peter Swinger's book has the track located in County Durham, but that's wrong. Durham's south of Newcastle and Ouston is very much in Northumberland, about twelve miles due west, along the Military Road that follows the course of Hadrian's Wall. It's an Army barracks now (called Albemarle) so photographers are taking their liberty in their hands, but the Ordnance Survey map for the Newcastle upon Tyne area shows the old airfield quite clearly and the corner names match up pretty well with the landmarks shown.
Posted 02 March 2003 - 14:15
I'm interested to hear more about Ouston - I've never heard of it.
Posted 02 March 2003 - 17:48
Originally posted by RTH
Thats great stuff Alan, We now have someone in Edinburgh either e-mail me or I you and I'll put everyone in touch.
I'm interested to hear more about Ouston - I've never heard of it.
Well, I have to admit I hadn't heard of it either until Xmas 2001 when I got the book I mentioned - Peter Swinger's "Motor Racing Circuits In England, Then And Now", published 2001 by Dial House, ISBN 0 7110 2796 X. I've lived in the North East for eleven years, but I'm not a native - unlike my daughters! I grew up in South Shropshire, about twenty miles from Shelsley Walsh (which I'm sure you have heard of!)
The section in Swinger on Ouston is fairly short so, at the risk of calling down the wrath of the Copyright Lawyers...
"OUSTON Furthest North In England RAF Ouston in County Durham is approximately 12 miles from Newcastle upon Tyne city centre. A fighter base during World War 2, RAF Ouston no longer exists and is now a small industrial estate but it does have Army connections and is known as Albemarle Barracks. There is a possibility that racing first took place at Ouston as early as 1961 but it is certain that the Newcastle & District Motor Club organised race meetings there on 24 June 1962, 23 June 1963 and 21 June 1964, the last named being a joint car and motorcycle meeting. Jackie Stewart was a competitor at the 1963 meeting driving an E-Type Jaguar; he won the race and this is believed to have been his first victory (my italics - APL). Jim Clark attended the meeting in 1964 and was driven round the circuit in an open-topped car and then presented the prizes. It would appear that this was the last meeting at Ouston as Croft (which was "just down the road") had reopened in 1964."
The section also includes a (distant) photo of Clark as the passenger of an E-Type, doing the 1964 lap of honour mentioned above and a sketch map - which appears to be the same one on the www.silhouet.com site.
As I mentioned on the previous post, the opening phrase "in County Durham" is wrong as the border is several miles south across the River Derwent (and the reservoir created by damming up the head of that river). The distance from Newcastle is about right though, it's just to the west instead of the south. The entrance to Albemarle Barracks is on the B6318 just east of the hamlet of Harlow Hill. The B6318 is known locally as the Military Road because it was built by General Wade to help him hunt down the Jacobite rebels during the '45 and it follows pretty much the course of Hadrian's Wall and the various Roman supply roads in the area. Though the book says it's an industrial estate now, there is a reasonably sized barracks there - I drive to work in Newcastle along the Military Road sometimes and have often seen the squaddies off for their early morning runs across the fields!
Also, I'm not sure I'd describe Croft as "just down the road" as it's a good sixty miles (about the same south as Charterhall is north, oddly enough) but I guess that's just a matter of perspective - I can imagine our Australian and American brethren being mildly amused by the inference that sixty miles is any great distance!
The Stewart reference is intriguing - it would be interesting to know if it really was his first race win. I can't think of a better forum on which to find the answer...
I have got your EMail Richard and I'll reply to it once I've finished here. I'll scan in the Ordnance Survey plan of Ouston. I seem to remember reading that you need a personal website to post pictures on Atlas and I don't but if you or anyone else does then feel free to slap it up here. The map details are :
OS Landranger Series, Map 88 "Tyneside & Durham area" and the grid reference of the centre of the airfield is approximately 700081 (or should that be 081700? O-Level Geography was so long ago...)
As I said, the map shows the origin of the corner names fairly well - Cheeseburn Grange is visible to the North East and Hillhead Corner was clearly named after Nesbitt Hill Head to the south west. Swinger's book says that Crossways Corner was the intersection of the two runways used. There are three runways at Ouston, in the shape of an "X" with the third runway as a horizontal line through the middle. The perimeter road shown on the OS map runs round the four corners of the "X" so the track appears to have run from top right of the "X" down that runway to the middle, then due west on the middle runway and then round the perimeter road at the top left hand quarter of the site - you can even see the Esses where the perimeter road runs round the bottom of Richmond Hill.
Sorry for waffling on a bit, that's something I'm good at!