Coal-carrying spectacle pulls in the crowds

Coal-carrying spectacle pulls in the crowds

HUNDREDS of spectators thronged the streets of Gawthorpe for the 52nd World Coal Carrying Championships on Easter Monday.

Good weather brought plenty of visitors into the village for the traditional event, which saw a record number of competitors race through the streets of Ossett and Gawthorpe carrying sacks of coal on their backs.

The Easter Monday competition involves running the 1,108-yard course from the Royal Oak pub on Owl Lane to the Maypole on the village green.

Men have to dash along the course carrying a sack weighing 50kg, while women have to carry 20kg.

More than 100 youngsters took part in fun races, with four classes of under-18s running shorter distances, as well as men’s, women’s and veterans’ races.

The championships were born in 1963 after an argument in the Beehive Inn between coal merchant Reggie Sedgewick and Maypole Committee president Amos Clapham, over who was fittest.

Graham Crane, the current holder of the Scottish coal race title, travelled down from Fife and won this year after hauling his sack over the finish line in 4mins 40 secs in the men’s race, with last year’s women’s winner Penny Ditchfield retaining her title in 4mins 30 secs.DSC_5898

Penny, 38, was 19 seconds clear of the runner-up and beat 25 other competitors in a time just five seconds short of the world record holder.

A veteran’s race was won by Mick Scott in a time of 5 minutes 38 seconds.

The current male world record is 4mins 6 secs, held by David Jones of Meltham. The female record holder for the women’s race is Catherine Fenton with a time of 4mins 25 secs.

Photos by Mike Clarke

Share this post