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Wacky Races Uncovered At The Treasure House

Published: 4th July 2012 11:54
It’s less than a month until the Olympics return to London for a third time and the world’s spotlight will be turned on the British nation for a festival of sport in which 204 nations will compete for glory. But, over 100 years ago, a typical sports event would have had quite a different line-up...

Wacky Races Uncovered At The Treasure House

It's less than a month until the Olympics return to London for a third time and the world's spotlight will be turned on the British nation for a festival of sport in which 204 nations will compete for glory.

Many are quite familiar with most of the 26 sports that make up the Olympic Games, and events like the 100m sprint have come to be known as standard sporting competitions.

But, over 100 years ago, a typical sports event would have had quite a different line-up, as is shown by archive material held at the Treasure House, Beverley. A sports programme for the Beverley Mariners' Aquatic and Athletic Annual Sports event in 1903 reveals that people in those days used to compete in a variety of weird and wacky races that would be unlikely to be seen in modern times.

On the events roster were races such as the 100 yards top hat and umbrella race, 100 yards tub race, walking the greasy pole over water and the 100 yards swimming race in ladies' costume.

Sam Bartle, collections officer, said: "Nowadays we would perhaps associate an event like this with a school sports day, but this was an adult sporting competition. Unfortunately, we don't see these kinds of events anymore for grown-ups."

One race, however, has stood the test of time. The ‘pick-a-back' race still continues today, but is better known as the ‘piggy back' race.

Rather than medals of gold, silver and bronze, the competition prizes tended to be more functional and included a marble clock, a knife and fork set, an ink stand and an electro-plated tea service. The lucky winners of the ‘pick-a-back' race were able to share a box of biscuits.

The sports programme can be viewed on request at the Treasure House.

For more information, call (01482) 392794 or visit the Treasure House, Champney Road, Beverley.

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