Odds on for stargazing at Lanark racecourse?

Tote Building at the Racecourse, Lanark.
Tote Building at the Racecourse, Lanark.

Nearly 350 years after Greenwich got its world-famous observatory, could Lanark be getting one too?

The possibility cropped up in the latest debate over what to do about the town’s Tote building, the last surviving structure of the former Lanark Racecourse, closed down in 1977.

As reported in recent Gazettes, concern is growing over the deteriorating condition of the listed landmark, which holds a special place in the history of the horse-racing and betting industries as it was the first structure of its kind built in the UK after the National Tote was founded in 1928.

Over the years, suggestions for its future use have come and gone with no actual progress made.

Suggested schemes have included creating a horseracing museum or turning it into a home for a sports club.

The latest meeting of the Royal Burgh of Lanark Communty Council heard a fresh idea born out of a historical find near the neighbouring community of Braidwood.

Council members were told of the discovery in a field outside the village of a large old telescope thought to once have been the property of a local mansion owner with an enthusiasm for astronomy.

As it is thought to be made out of valuable brass, the Gazette is sworn to secrecy over its exact location.

Council vice-chairman Leonard Gray said that recovering the telescope for future display was a project being carried out by the Lanark Museum Trust, and he suggested putting it back in working order and placing it at the top of the Tote building.

The former racecourse site might be ideal for star-gazing, given its location outside the town centre and away from the night glare of street lights.

The community council agreed to explore the idea further.