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WWII and Racing in Lambourn

The war affected all aspects of life in Britain and Lambourn village life was no exception.

Many able men were called up to join the Army, Navy or Airforce and Racing thus lost Jockeys, Trainers and stable hands throughout the wartime period. This is the story Frederick Brough (known as Fred) who was an apprentice jockey at the Waltham House Stables of of Frederick Pratt between 1935 and 1939. He always had a passion for horses and his family remember him looking after the local milkman's horse in order to learn to ride. His mother wrote letters to many racing stables and this is how, aged 14, he came to be in Lambourn,  a long way from his native Doncaster. As the second world war broke out Fred was sent home and joined the army a year later in 1940. It appears that many lads were sent home in 1939 as Fred regrets in a letter dated 16 September 1939 to Fred's Mother.








Dear Madam

The war has to answer for a lot and I am sorry the boys have had to be sent home, as I told your son, he is free to do what ever he likes, and if when the war is over, he likes to come back he can do so or not as he pleases. I hope that your son will get along alright, and that the war will soon be over.

Yours faithfully

FC Pratt


When the war was over he couldn't go back to Lambourn as he was married with a young baby so the war put paid to his ambition to be a jockey.  His army enlistment shows his height as 4ft 10ins and weight as 6 1/2stone.  Ideal size for a jockey!

Frederick Brough
(28 November 1921 to 25 August 1999)

Fred returned to Lambourn for a visit in 1995 and found that not much had changed, in fact not much has changed from then to the present day.

Some History of Waltham House Stables:
Waltham House, Upper Lambourn was built in 1898, the actual house in now private residence but was the property of T. Worton who sold the farmland separately.  Stables 20 to 1903 then 35.  Waltham House Stables became Lethornes in 1964 when Doug Marks trained there.

Waltham House Trainers were:
F.C. Pratt trained  between 1919 - 1939  for Mr J.A. de Rothschild
A.J.Wood between 1940 - 1946  for Rothschild
D.F. Watson 1947 -1957 for Rothschild

We would like to thank Patricia Gospel, Daughter of Fred for allowing us to publish the details and letters.

If you have stories or reminiscences of the racing industry during the wartime please contact us. We would love to add them to the collection.