Thursday, 4 February 2016

Racing horses at Middle Park with Mr William Blenkiron in 1861

Now here’s a story that I can’t claim any credit for but which I suspect will be new to many people.

Middle Park, 1873
It started with the chance discovery of horse racing at Middle Park and by degree took me to William Blenkiron.*

To be honest I rather let Mr Blenkiron go by the wayside and it wasn’t till my friend Tricia did the research that I realized that here was indeed and fascinating story.

He had been born in Yorkshire in 1807 and having begun as a farmer moved to London in 1834 “and commenced business as a general agent [and] in 1845 added to his establishment a manufactory of stocks and collars, and three years later retired in favour of his son."**

Leaving him at the still relatively young age of forty to begin a new career as the owner of a racehorse and by degree “wanting more room, removed from Dalston to Middle Park, Kent.  

He brought with him seven or eight brood mares and Neasham the head of the list of Eltham sire.  The establishment now rapidly increased until it was augmented to upwards of two hundred of the highest class and best mares that money and experience could produce.”**

And for those that want to follow his racehorse successes there is an excellent account in thamesfacingeast.***

Poll Book, 1868
Instead I am more fascinated by what Tricia uncovered from the census returns.

In 1851 he was still in Dalston giving his occupation as “Silk Merchant,” but a decade later having settled at Middle Park he described himself as a “Farmer of 500 acres employing 18 workers” and in the April of 1871 was content to be known as a “Breeder of Horses.”

Now we can track him across the electoral registers from the 1835 and even know that in 1868 he voted for the two Conservative candidates for the Kent West Constituency.****

He died in the September of 1871 and is buried in the parish church.

Location; Eltham, London

Research; Tricia Leslie

Pictures; Middle Park, detail from 1858-73 OS map of Kent and extract from the Poll Book Kent West, 1868 courtesy of

*When horses raced on Middle Park Meadows,

**National Biography page 674

*** The Middle Park Stakes: The Eltham Connection, September 11, 2013  thamesfacingeast, 

****Enu 24, 16 Hackney, Hackney, Middlesex, 1851, Enu 1, 1, Eltham, Kent 1861, Enu 1,2, Eltham, Kent, 1871

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