Monday, 9 May 2011

See and be seen

The seventh and final part of our occasional series of retrospective photographs from the past 300 years of Ascot history looks back at the Ascot of today.

The popularity of Ascot soon meant that racegoers demanded the best views that they could afford. Three centuries ago, just as today, the most highly sought after stands have not only been those with the best view, but the places where the most fashionable people in society have gone to be seen.

For those not invited to the more exclusive stands and boxes, the Grandstands have provided the best view of the action. The original 18th and early 19th century stands were temporary structures, but through time have become larger and more sophisticated buildings including all the comforts that racegoers demanded.

In 1961, the Queen Elizabeth II Grandstand opened at a cost of £1 million, containing 280 private “dining rooms.” Ascot has genuine claims to having pioneered private corporate hospitality boxes within what was a ground breaking structure at the time. The Grandstand that you see today (pictured) was a slightly more expensive building to construct at 220 times the cost of its predecessor and it has been short-listed in the category of Sports Venue of the Year in this year’s prestigious Sport Industry Awards.

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