Listed Building

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Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
Planning Authority
Scottish Borders
NT 72581 35519
372581, 635519


Dated 1822, following a design supplied by John Carr in 1778 (see Notes). Outstanding and rare, 2-storey, rectangular-plan, Classical racecourse grandstand. Buff sandstone ashlar with moulded dressings and cornicing. Shouldered hoodmoulds to openings.

S (PRINCPAL) ELEVATION: 7-bay rusticated arcade to ground. 5-bay section above with Tuscan pilasters between round-arched openings; stepped back to form viewing terrace. Ornamental cast-iron railings with rose motif and decorative awning posts. Balustraded parapet with cast-iron rails to roof-top observation platform. Shouldered stacks with tall square-plan chimneys in groups of three.

Round-arched doorway framed by stone porch at E elevation. Substantial Doric-columned portico to 3-stage stair tower at W elevation; date plaque above inscribed 'Erected by James Duke of Roxburgh 1822'.

Multi-pane glazing to 2-leaf timber doors and windows at first floor; decorative cast iron fan-lights to round-arch openings. Predominantly 12-pane glazing to timber sash and case windows elsewhere. Cast iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: changing rooms, weighing-in room and offices to ground floor, many with timber surround fireplaces. Wide stone stair rising to 1st floor from entrance to E. Duke and Duchess's room to E with carved frieze and white marble chimneypiece. Larger public room to W with ornate double plaster cornice and timber chimneypiece with columned jambs; large cast-iron grate. Hanging stone stair with late 20th century brick newel to NW corner tower.

Statement of Special Interest

The racecourse grandstand at Kelso is the finest example of its building type in Scotland and a particularly rare and important survival in a wider UK context. Constructed in 1822 to a design provided in 1778 by renowned architect John Carr, its classical form and profile survive relatively intact, as does the interior plan and decorative scheme. It is a very rare example of a 19th century racing grandstand still used for its intended purpose in the UK.

Features of architectural distinction include the rusticated arcade to ground floor, classically proportioned round-arched openings to 1st floor, decorative cast-iron railings and awning posts, Doric porticoed stair tower, and remarkably intact interior, all adding significantly to its interest. Unusual for its relatively close proximity to the race track, the design incorporates a separate viewing room for patrons the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe which is reached by a private stone stair to the East, adding further to the interest of the building.

John Carr was one of the most competent and successful British architects of the end of the 18th century. His designs for Kelso Races are comparable to his three earlier stands at Doncaster, Nottingham and York Races, none of which now survive.

The Kelso Races were established by Sir Alexander Don in 1751 at nearby Caverton. In 1777 a Society called the Caledonian Hunt was formed at Kelso which met twice a year. Around the time that John Carr provided his design for the grandstand to the first Earl of Minto, the Duke of Roxburghe transferred the racecourse from Caverton to Blakelaw, which is nearer Kelso but this proved to be an unpopular site. The Incorporated Trades of Kelso assisted with the construction of the racecourse when it moved for the final time to its present location. A plain additional stand was appended to the W elevation in 1968.

List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).



1st Edition Ornance Survey Map (1856-59). Kitty Cruft, John Dunbar, Richard Fawcett, The Buildings Of Scotland - Borders (2002) pp451-2. RCAHMS, Copy of Drawing Showing Elevation and Plans of Grandstand, Survey of Private Collections - Roxburghe Estate Farms, Ref: D50625P. RCAHMS site Number NT73NW 47.01, accessed 2010. Further information courtesy of Simon Inglis.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

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Printed: 23/07/2019 11:11