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Epsom Downs

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Epsom Downs

[History] [Present day] [Location] [Beware of the gate!]


Epsom Downs is known throughout the world as the racecourse where the Epsom Derby is run. Less well known is the model flying strip, situated within the racecourse, near the car park at the start of Tattenham Corner.

Model aircraft have been flown here for many decades. The first models would have been free-flight, later control-line became popular and then radio controlled models started to appear. Free-flight models are still seen on the Downs from time to time however control-line models are no longer permitted under the bye-laws.

Present day

Model flying on Epsom Downs has always been permitted subject to "the consent of the Conservators." Since 1st January 2006 consent has been given only to members of Epsom Downs Model Aircraft Club. Check their website for more information.


In December 2003 the flying strip was moved approximately 100 metres to the west from its previous position to place it further from the footpath across the Downs. The current location is flagged on the interactive map below.

Beware of the gate!

Since summer 2000 vehicular access to the inside of the racecourse has been restricted, controlled by gates which are shut and locked at 9pm. during the summer and at 5pm during the winter.

The original intention was apparently that the 5pm/9pm change would coincide with the change between British Summer Time (BST) and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) However the actual Traffic Order under which the gate is closed states the following;

The Council of the Borough of Epsom and Ewell pursuant to arrangements made under Section 101 of the Local Government Act 1972 with Surrey County Council in exercise of their powers under Sl(l) and (2) and 2(1) to (3) and 4(2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as amended and of all other powers enabling them in that behalf hereby make the following order:

  1. To prohibit any vehicle from driving along the Old London Road, Epsom, Surrey where the Road crosses the Racecourse between a position 40 metres and 85 Metres south west of the junction of Old London Road and Tattenham Corner Road, Epsom, Surrey during the hours 9 pm and 6.15 am during the summer months of March to October (BST) and 5.00 pm and 6.15 am during the winter months of October to March (GMT) shown on the Plan annexed hereto
  2. The Interpretation Act 1978 shall apply for the interpretation of this Order as it applies for the interpretation of an Act of Parliament
  3. This Order shall come into operation on the 27th day of March 2000 and may be cited as the Borough of Epsom and Ewell (Prohibition of Driving) (Old London Road, Epsom) Order 1999

To my simple mind (I Am Not A Lawyer!) this is somewhat ambiguous. March and October seem to be both "summer months" and "winter months." Unfortunately the actual interpretation put on this is such that the gate gets closed at 5pm from the beginning of October through to the end of March.

For much of the year this is not a problem, however during most of February, all of March and all but the last few days of October the gate closes before sunset (a full hour and a half at the end of March.) This means that flying has to finish around 4:50pm with a mad dash to get out before the gate closes. Alternatively cars can be parked in an alternative car park which then requires an additional quarter mile walk in each direction carrying models, flight boxes etc.