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Race is on to save UK’s only Roman chariot racetrack

February 8, 2010

When the white handkerchief dropped, the Ben Hurs of Colchester would have set off down Circular Road North, past the banked tiers of seats, turning left at Napier Road, their iron tyres gouging a deep rut in the track,and back up past St John’s gatehouse towards the water-spouting dolphin marking the end of the first lap.

Colchester, it seems, was the Formula One track of Roman Britain, with the only chariot racing circus ever found on the island, and the first found in northern Europe for 20 years. Now modern residents have less than a month to raise the money to save a unique monument and create a visitor centre to reveal the site’s history.

Wendy Bailey, chairwoman of Destination Colchester, said a campaign had received a boost with a £30,000 council contribution. “This has really caught the imagination of ordinary local people,” she said.

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