LITHGOW GREYHOUND RACING CLUB FOUNDED
The site where the Greyhound Racing Track now stands was once known as Brown’s Paddock, and it has a long association with greyhound racing, or coursing, which is a nice word for chasing after a small animal, usually a hare. The Hartley District Coursing Club held ‘kangaroo rat coursing’ at Brown’s Paddock in the 1880s, and meets were held at Wallerawang, Donnybrook and Cooerwull.
The Lithgow Coursing Club was formed and became part of the New South Wales Coursing Association in 1901. The first official meeting attracted 450 people and was held on the plumpton system developed by Rooty Hill landholder William Lamb, in which two dogs raced off for a small beast. The dog that got it won.
In 1927 dog racing changed dramatically, and became less bloody, when the ‘tin hare’ was introduced to Sydney. The tin hare, invented in the U.S., was a lure on a mechanised arm that sped around a track, using an electrified rail. The first was installed at the Epping horse track, for night events, which suited working people, as did the system of small bets introduced by the entrepreneurs who ran the hare.
Lithgow greyhound racing enthusiasts were quick to see an opportunity. The Lithgow Electric Coursing Association formed and, by November 1927, was building on Brown’s Paddock. A February 1928 The Lithgow Mercury article, “Tin Hare at Lithgow. Long Tails in Action”, explained the club’s works, which included building up high ground after recent floods along Farmers Creek; a galvanised iron casing for the rail and, at the Blast Furnace end of the ground, a judging tower, around which bookies and spectators gathered.
The tin hare came to Lithgow on 14 April, 1928, with a bang, and a whimper, as the 2,000 people who attended were ‘doomed to disappointment’. The first race was the Lithgow Stakes. It was resoundingly won by Waterfall Lad, but although he slowed up after his run the tin hare did not; it flew off the rail and was so damaged racing was cancelled. The following week racing started properly, although The Mercury’s couldn’t help itself, running the headline: ‘dogged by hard luck’.
Still, greyhound racing was established, with Wednesday night meets and traditional scandals of bookies doing a flit, ring-ins, including of city dogs and, sadly, dog poisoning. It was a working class sport but the stakes were high.
In the 1930s the Lang Government moved to license the industry and regulate betting. For reasons unknown, the Lithgow Association failed in its bid and in 1932 the ground was bought by the Greyhound Coursing Association of Sydney. The Lithgow Greyhound Racing Association is now part of Greyhound Racing NSW, and dogs still run on what was Brown’s Paddock, every Saturday.