Keyword searching for any references to Appleby in the British Library’s on-line resource of the United Kingdom’s newspapers brought to the notice of the Appleby Record Society several announcements in the Newcastle Courant for horse races held near the town in the late 1720s and early 1730s.

The earliest reference appeared on 22 March 1729 when the reader was informed that a Plate, Value £5 would be raced for on 9th April, by horses of 14 hands high and carrying 9 stones, over 3 heats of 4 miles each. The following day a plate value £10 for horses carrying 10 stones. Furthermore, the horses had to be measured by Anthony Parkin by the 5th April and to remain in the town until after the races. No doubt providing a nice little earner for the innkeepers providing the stabling and accommodation for the riders.

The same prizes and qualifications were offered on the 16th and 17th of April 1730 although on this occasion Messrs John Atkinson and Thomas Harrison where to measure and approve the entrants two days before the first day of racing. Again the horses must remain in the town until after the event.

On 10th September of the same year another meeting was held but on this occasion the venue was specified as Brampton Moor, near Appleby. The same prizes and qualifications applied; however, on this occasion no adjudicators were mentioned but the winning horse was to be sold for £20 – if required.

The meeting of April 1731 offered the same prizes but carried a warning that ‘No person during the said races, will be permitted to sell any liquors upon the said moor, but such as are subscribers to the [prize] plates.’ Perhaps the town’s innkeepers were making sure no offcomers took their trade!

At the meeting of September 1734 the number of prize plates remained the same but additional attractions were offered to the spectators: a saddle valued at a guinea would be raced for by horses, while women could compete for a Holland Smock of the same value.

The wood-engraving above is not, alas, for Appleby Races but was commissioned by Anthony Soulby of Penrith from the great Newcastle engraver Thomas Bewick in 1808. Unlike most such race blocks, this example is clearly site-specific to Penrith as the Penrith Beacon is visible in the top right of the image and labelled as such on the crude sketch Soulby sent to Bewick.