Coal Race Event
The World Coal Carrying Championships.
Each year men and women race the streets of Gawthorpe carrying huge sacks of Coal.
There is a women’s race which takes place first, followed by two men’s races, with the best time being taken across the two races. This was newly introduced in 2011 due to the events popularity and was a great success.
For many years there has been a race for the children, where they can have fun and take part in the light hearted fun run.
The children’s races follow the same principal as the adults, but they run a short 100 yards from the Darby and Joan club in Gawthorpe to the Village Green. There are various age categories available making it a safe and enjoyable day.
5-7 – Boys and Girls
8-10 -Boys and Girls
11-13 – Boys and Girls
The event starts from Owl Lane, outside the Royal Oak where both men and women race with a sack of coal, approx one mile, 1108. 25 yards to be precise, to secure the best time. To qualify for completion of the race, the sack must be dropped on the Village Green where the traditional Maypole is situated in the heart of the Gawthorpe.
The current male WORLD RECORD is 4mins. 6secs held by one DAVID JONES of Meltham.
The current female RECORD HOLDER for the women’s race is Catherine Foley with a time of 4.25 secs.
At the century-old Beehive Inn situated in Gawthorpe the following incident took place one day in 1963. Reggie Sedgewick and one Amos Clapham, a local coal merchant and current president of the Maypole Committee were enjoying some well-earned liquid refreshment whilst stood at the bar lost in their own thoughts. When in bursts one Lewis Hartley in a somewhat exuberant mood. On seeing the other two he said to Reggie, ” Ba gum lad tha’ looks buggered !” slapping Reggie heartily on the back. Whether because of the force of the blow or because of the words that accompanied it, Reggie was just a little put out.‘’ Ah’m as fit as thee’’ he told Lewis, ‘’an’ if tha’ dun’t believe me gerra a bagga coil on thi back an ‘ah’ll get one on mine an ‘ah’ll race thee to t’ top o’ t’ wood !’’ ( Coil, let me explain is Yorkshire speak for coal ). While Lewis digested the implications of this challenge a Mr. Fred Hirst, Secretary of the Gawthorpe Maypole Committee ( and not a man to let a good idea go to waste) raised a cautioning hand. ” ‘Owd on a minute,’’ said Fred and there was something in his voice that made them all listen. ‘Aven’t we been looking fer some’at to do on Easter Monday? If we’re gonna ‘ave a race let’s ‘ave it then. Let’s ‘ave a coil race from Barracks t’ Maypole.’’( The Barracks being the more common name given by the locals to The Royal Oak Public House )
Thus was born The World Coal Carrying Championships!