1930s Southwell Racecourse Film Revealed


05 July 2022

We’ve come into possession of unique Southwell racecourse video footage, from the 1930s. It offers a fascinating insight into horseracing history. Many familiar happenings of a day-at-the-races are present, including a trip to the paddock, watching from the stands, and studying the form. The almost-90-year-old clip, will also find an audience, with those interested in the social history of the UK. It was supplied by Nick Syme, who below, tells the story of this tape, which features his relatives. One of whom is James Brownhill, the elderly man with a cane and his son, Capt Cecil Brownhill, a Scottish Grand National-winning jockey.

Watch the video here

Read Nick Sykes story of the tape: 


These were filmed by my grandfather Leslie Brownhill who does feature in a couple of the shots and was born in 1906.  He married Eva Harrop (born 1905) in 1930 and they had their only daughter Adrienne Brownhill in 1933.  They lived in Rotherham till the late 40s before moving to Spain, but had an active interest in racing.  I have dated the films approximately based on the age of the people in it compared to other clips where I have specific dates, but they may be a couple of years out.  Leslie was a keen photographer and it was nice to see him using quality 16mm film - sadly some of the shots were out of focus at the start.

When he died in 1993 I inherited the collection and have only recently transferred the to digital in high quality.  I am really keen that these are available to a wider audience, as they are a picture in time and really show social history.

 One of the people featured is James Brownhill - the elderly gentleman referred to as uncle with the cane.  He lived at Oakfield House in Denby and was the company director of John Brownhill & Co, which was a Silk & Rayon manufacturer in Denby - it closed in the 1960s 
His son was Capt Cecil Brownhill the jokey, who won the Scottish Grand National.  Attached are a few clips of him.  What I don't know is if he was actually riding one of the horses in the film or not.  He died in a road accident in 1938 
Film content

•            starts with James Browenhill 

•            View of the horses

•            3 men studying the paper are from left Leslie Brownhill, Jack Brownhill and I believe Jack Muntus (but I may be wrong)

•            The horse race itself - not sure if Capt Brownhill is one of these

•            lady with the binoculars is Eva Brownhill - not sure about the other 2 men

•            Blakes horse - reference.  Think this is the name of the owner who they knew

Credit must go to Leslie Brownhill, who captured this video, all the way back in (about) 1936. We also thank Nick Sykes for sharing the video and the fascinating background. If you wish to share your own history or provide historical footage of horseracing at Southwell, then please get in touch via our social media channels or email contact address.

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