World Coal Carrying Championship at Gawthorpe Again

Every year the World Coal Carrying Championship is held in Yorkshire on Easter Monday. At Easter in Gawthorpe grown men l run the mile from The Beehive public house to the Royal Oak, known locally as t’Barracks , carrying a hundred weight sack of coal.  The 54th World Coal Carrying Championship is scheduled for Easter Monday 2017. Bookings

coal mens race 2

According to the organisers this is how the World Championship came about ‘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.’

2009 was the 46th World Coal Carrying Championship and the BBC claim these facts about world champions
1. Window cleaners, builders and farmers are the most successful at winning the title
2. The best weight for an entrant to be is 10st 7lb
3. Competitors need to have strong legs and lungs

The sponsors are H.B.Clark independent brewers of Wakefield so a fourth fact  would be an appetite for beer.
coal female winner

Gawthorpe is between Dewsbury and Osset and also has a good May Day tradition. with dancing on the FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY EVERY YEAR. Gawthorpe itself can be dated back to the Romans and is believed to be named after a Viking Chief called “Gorky “. At the lower end of the village is an earth mound known as Fairy Hill. This is thought to be a Viking burial mound.

It is confirmed that a coal mine was established at Gawthorpe as long ago as 1366 during the reign of Edward III

Maypole dancing itself dates back as far as Richard II in England, and during the reign of Henry VIII reached most of the rural villages including Gawthorpe. Mayday itself became a public holiday until Oliver Cromwell (1649 – 1660) banned May Merrymaking and all such festivities. These were fortunately re-established by Charles II.

Photo credits
coal mens race 2 by SFB579 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
coal female winner by SFB579 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Pubs With York Heritage and Magnetism

york 139

Legend had it that there were 365 pubs in York, one for every day of the year. Half the pubs of York have gone since the 1950’s and there have been some historic losses. We need to protect those with special interest interiors and ‘support our pub heritage’. I will drink all I can in helping this cause.

Lost Pubs of York

York 360

Promotes some York  pubs including The Priory which is open 11.00am-1.00am and longer at weekends


Pubs with Interiors of Historic Interest

  • Black Swan in Peaseholme Green is a Grade ll* listed building with medieval timber-frame. There has been sensitive remodelling of the interior in the 30’s and 70’s but the original domestic interior survives. The 17th century staircase, doorways, fireplace and oak panelling have created a pub with very distinctive character.
  • Blue Bell on Fossgate has a slightly gaudy red tiled exterior that is not the most welcoming. For those who venture inside however an Edwardian treat awaits. The rooms are wood-panelled and traditionally furnished throughout, with the bar room only having enough room for 3 or 4 tables. A side lobby has two etched doors accessing a tiny front bar room and a rear ‘former-smoke room’ that is too narrow for some corpulent American visitors. This room and the lobby both have hatch access to the bar.The Blue Bell is a Grade ll* listed building and I hope the pub chains leave the interior alone.
  • Royal Oak on Goodramgate is a small stylish town pub. There is documentation dating it back  to the 15th century. The Royal Oak has both 18th and 19th century extensions to the back. It went through a major restoration project in 1934, a ‘Tudor Revamp’ according to Camra. Now with a gas fire rather than traditional logs it is still a cosy place to drink. Eating and your enjoyment thereof, depends on the landlord and cook at the time you visit.
  • The Swan on Bishopsgate, just outside York’s Bar Walls, was only the second pub to be designated a Tetleys Heritage Inn in the 1980’s. 30 years on and The Swan Inn has been nominated for “best real ale pub” in The Press Pub Awards 2009/10, and was Camra’s pub of the year. Probably enough said but the interior layout is one of only 3 surviving pubs witha genuine inter-war years layout within York.
  • York Arms beneath the shadow of the Minster is a homely little pub that escaped the open-plan movementr in the 1970’s. The site was a former Chapter coffee house but a licensed house was build on the site in 1838 and still has two main lounge areas, and a tiny snug at the front of the pub. It is a Samuel Smith pub so you will know it offers value for money in the beer pricing.
  • Lighthorseman was built in Fulford Road during Queen Victoria’s reign and survives as a multi-roomed public house of some style. There is a wealth of original Victorian features including the only original Victorian bar remaining in the city. Deservedly there is a grade 2 listing. With accommodation available you can check out its own web site.

I am sure I have not covered your favourite alehouse, boozer, hostelry, local, watering-hole or call it what you will. If my omission is unwarranted then I am happy to add further pubs to this page or better still visit them for myself. Please comment below.


The Maltings, Guy Fawkes and The Olde White Swan vie with Golden Lion, Three Tuns and The Bluebell as my current favourites

Otley You Are Not Drinking Enough

Woolpack Otley

Is the economy so bad down in Otley that no one is drinking enough to keep the pubs viable. Always a great place to drink, Otley landlords must be having a hard time after the opening of Sainsbury’s and Netto’s new supermarket.
The Summercross is shut for good (or bad depending on how you look at it). Will the Woolpack and Yeoman ever reopen as pubs?
Is the new work just started on the Bowling Green going to see oit reopen as a J D Wetherspoons? At least the eyesore will be renovated by March I am told.

Bowling Green

In the last couple of years there have been problems for other pubs in the town. It is great to see the Black Horse, Red Lion, Fleece and Cross Pipes back serving good ale. I hope their trading is ‘ale and hearty but that is down to us drinkers.

Summercross Otley

Otley needs more visitors to help boost the economy. It is a good base to explore the dales to day trip for lunch or just a drink in the numerous surviving pubs. see pubs in Otley list. It is even better if you are looking for a night on the town in a traditional, pub rich, market town so get to Otley before the next closure.