Craigieburn Greyhound Coursing Enclosure
The sign was erected by the Shire of Bulla on the occasion of the joint back-to-Somerton (1850 - 1955) and Craigieburn 1955 - 85 Primary Schools held on the 14th of September 1985.
This concrete block was the last remnant of a greyhound Plumpton which flourished for a time at this site in Craigieburn, where today nothing remains or is to be seen where this once existed, long being removed for road widening and the building of newer buildings on the site. Only photos now show where it once stood.
The coursing enclosure was bounded in part by Craigieburn Rd West and Sydney Road. (Approximately where the Shell Service Station is today or Coles Express)
The opening meeting of the Melbourne Coursing Club was held on the 26th, 27th and 28th of August 1926 the president being Mr. T. V. Conroy and Mr. Parnell Healy as secretary 1926 -1936.
The last meeting on the site was held on the 19th and 20th of September 1935 and the enclosure was dismantled in 1936. The final meeting of the Melbourne Coursing Club was held at nearby Mt. Ridley in October 1936.
Electricity was not available in Craigieburn in 1926 and a plant was purchased to generated a supply. By December 1934 a 30hp suction and gas engine generator had been installed to generate power for the benefit of the nightime speed coursing. This machinery was mounted on the concrete block.
Extracts taken from 'The Little Book of Somerton and Craigieburn Schools' by Brenda Sorraghan.
August 26th, 1926, was declared a school holiday to mark the opening of a Coursing Ground at Craigieburn. The Coursing Grounds or Plumpton (where greyhounds coursed after hares) situated on Sydney Road to the north of 15 Mile Lane, opened in fine style and provided scenes of unusual activity. A special train was run from Spencer Street for patrons, and over five thousand people attended. The Findon Harriers with huntsmen in full regalia were a stirring sight.
President of the Melbourne Coursing Club Ltd, which built the enclosure was Mr. T Conroy and the secretary was Mr. Parnell Healy, one time station master at Craigieburn, whose family attended the Somerton School. Mr. Healy was a graduate of the school of open field coursing, where stamina and grit in greyhounds were as important as speed.
Hares were of prime importance in the running of coursing events. There was a keen demand for the hare, and in 1928, up to £4 per pair was paid. Craigieburn boasted a hare of great fame, "Loppy" found at Leveret in a rusty kerosene tin. Loppy knew every hole and corner of the ground, and was used to train the new arrivals. Hare drives were conducted to replace losses by disease, escape and misadventure. (A fine supply of hares at Sale was depleted when skinned for sale and cooked for soup). After a drive in which school children often helped, hares were rested and fed on oats, hay and carrots, and then trained. Weak and untrained animals had no place in proper coursing.
Competition from tracks closer to the city, intense lobbying with the controlling body (The National Coursing Council) for allocation of important meetings, bad luck (which included the loss of advertising rights on boarding facing Sydney Road) and the great depression all contributed to the demise of the Craigieburn Enclosure in 1935. It was dismantled in 1936, the concrete block near Hanson Road being a remnant of an interesting Craigieburn era.
Above: Picture courtesy of the National Library in Canberra