Every year on the 17th of April (Easter Monday), thousands of people crowd the streets of Gawthorpe to see the annual and historical Coal Race.
One day in 1963, two local workers (Reggie and Amos) were having a well-earned drink in the century old Beehive Inn. Whilst they were stood at the bar lost in their own thoughts, a boisterous man- called Lewis Hartley- burst in and started a disagreement, arguing about who was the fittest. Because of their dispute, Reggie challenged Lewis to a coal race. While he was considering the challenge, Fred Hirst, who was the Secretary of the Gawthorpe Maypole Committee, raised a cautioning hand and suggested that the race should be held on Easter Monday. That's how the coal carrying championships were born!
Every year on Easter Monday, the local residents of Gawthorpe gather together for the World Coal Carrying Championships. The race traditionally starts on Owl Lane at the Royal Oak Public House. At this year's event, as soon as the fire pistol went off, both men and women seized their sack of coal ready to race. The women carried sacks which weighed 20Kg whereas the men's sacks of coal weighed a hefty 50Kg! Following the same principles as the adult's race, the children had to run 100 yards.
On the Village Green, where the coal race ended, many competitors were exhausted, but extremely proud that they had completed the World Coal Carrying Championships! Dale (aged 9) mumbled breathlessly,
"I am determined to do it for another 2 years, and when I am an adult, I am hoping to carry a sack of coal on my back." He continued, "I am proud to say that I came 4th."
Swarms of supportive and enthusiastic people lined the streets of Gawthorpe to watch this competitive race. One of the spectators was Jack (a local school child), and he really enjoyed watching and cheering on the race.
"I was surprised how fun it looked," he exclaimed, "it has really inspired me to take part next year."