About the NHRM

18th December 2009

A Short History of the Museum

The National Horseracing Museum occupies part of the buildings that were known as the Subscription Rooms which were a focal point of Newmarket and consequently are steeped in history.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the betting men would meet at the Subscription Rooms after racing.

As the betting on horses became more widespread, with bookmakers displaying their lists in saloon bars and cigar shops and the introduction of overnight telegraph, the importance of the Subscription Rooms diminished. Eventually the betting was discontinued and the Rooms became a social club, which enjoyed great popularity amonst the racing fraternity. As the racing business became more demanding on the time of racing professionals the support for the Rooms steadily declined unti lthe Rooms closed at the end of 1981.

Major David Swannell, a prominent and highly respected Jockey Club Handicapper had long envisaged setting up a national museum for racing and the empty Rooms building was an ideal oppoprtunity. accordingly Major Swannell enlisted the help of Lord Howard de Walden, David Oldrey, Mrs Dana Brudenell-Bruce, Leslie Harrison together with others who were as generous with their contributions to badly needed funds, as they were with their time. As a result of their combined efforts the National Horseracing Museum was established to encourage the preservation of items of historic and scientific interest connected with horseracing. Her Majesty the Queen officially opened the Museum on 30th April 19

This short history is based on Richard Onslow's text in the Museum Guide from the mid 1990s.

Read more at http://www.nhrm.co.uk