Cockburn History: Horses, racing & stables in Cockburn

The Cockburn coastline has played host to horses, races, and stables since the earliest days of European settlement.

Early settlers held a pony race beside the beach at South Fremantle in 1833, complete with stands, food stalls, and entertainment – quite an accomplishment for a colony only four years old. Though the main racing industry developed closer to Perth, settlers in the Cockburn area entertained themselves with a number of local meets. In the 1880s a racecourse was marked out at Woodman Point, and in the 1890s Walter Powell developed his Coogee Hotel racecourse. These races became a fixture of Fremantle-Cockburn society for decades.

View from the Hill over Randwick Stables, Hamilton Hill, 1927.

View from the hill over Randwick Stables, Hamilton Hill, 1927.

In the early 1920s, famous ex-jockey Jack Marks built Randwick Stables on Rockingham Road, Hamilton Hill, taking advantage of fertile soil to grow feed and the nearby beach to exercise the animals. During the following thirty years and more a lively training and racing culture grew up in the area, with stables owned and run by prominent racing names such as F.W. Johnson on Forrest Road, and A.W. Cooper close by, as well as a host of smaller stables owned by Fremantle businessmen and run by racing veterans.

Randwick Stables is still standing on Rockingham Road, and the legacy of horses exercising along South and CY O’Connor Beaches remains to this day.

This article appears in the October 2016 issue of the Cockburn Soundings. Get in touch here to have your local history query answered.


Leah

Author: Leah

I work as the Reader Services Librarian at Spearwood Public Library. I order the books, and I take requests for anything you can’t find in the library! I also research and write local history articles for the Cockburn Soundings, and for anyone who has a local history question.

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5 Comments

  1. hi leah was the horse racing around the corner from the now standing NEWMARKET hotel cnr rockingham and cocburn rd heading east on rockingham rd ? theres 3-4 tall trees there and a old sqauters bus where i beleive someones staying

    Post a Reply
    • Leah

      Hi Victor,
      Yes that’s the place, on the left as you’re heading east! The stables and training grounds were there, but the racing itself happened elsewhere. The buildings are still there and they’re heritage listed (State Heritage Council listing) and they hold regular markets and a community garden there now, and the space is used for events too.
      It’s great to see the old buildings still in use and part of the Hami Hill community!
      Leah

      Post a Reply
  2. I wasn’t even aware that there were horses and racing held in this area until now. Good information!

    Post a Reply
  3. I’ve been driving past the stables off Rockingham Road this whole time without realising how old it actually is. Thanks Leah!

    Post a Reply
    • Leah

      You’re most welcome, Steph! It’s always fun seeing the things we normally take for granted in new ways!

      Post a Reply

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Cockburn History: Horses, racing & stables in Cockburn

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