Jeremy Godwin's Annual Archive Collection


Wednesday, 4th January 7.30pm Carlisle Wrestling Club training at Currock House
Wednesday, 11th January Junior Points Night
at Currock House

The fat envelope landed on the doormat again. Jeremy Godwin, wrestling's unofficial archivist, had worked his magic throughout 2011, and sent me a bale of cuttings, large and small from local newspapers in Cumbria….and Hexham.
The general message is that wrestling is stitched into our region's heritage, part of the distinctive character of this area which goes beyond the startling beauty of the Lake District and the political artefacts of castles and grand houses.
Nowhere is the awareness of the past greater than in the columns of the western papers, the Whitehaven News and the Times and Star. One hundred and fifty years ago Whitehaven Races and Wrestling took place though "during the past week the weather had been so extremely wet that there was a prevalent opinion that the ground would not be in a fit state for either horse-racing or wrestling." Then at Sandwith "the second wrestling competition for a silver cup given by Mr Gabriel Chambers, innkeeper, was held in a field near the inn.". There was even a permanent wrestling ring shown on contemporary Ordnance Survey maps at the racecourse on Harras Moor.
A well-researched article gives an account of a local wrestler, Harry Dunn, born in Dearham, who at the age of 15 years went to a wrestling competition in Newcastle on Tyne where he came second out of 200 entrants. He wandered the world ( America, New Zealand, Australia) making a living from wrestling and at one time was the "Five Styles Champion of the World."
Fortunately, not all wrestling is in the past in West Cumbria, and action at Egremont Crab Fair, Ennerdale Bridge, Buttermere, Loweswater, and so on is well documented.
The Hexham Courant 125 years ago tells of huge snowdrifts at Alston, and Bill Smith winning Hexham Wrestling Society's gold medal in the annual finals, fortunately held indoors at the Wellington Hotel. Seventy-five years ago "a wrestling event at Tyne Mills, Hexham, drew large crowds to watch several bouts take place throughout the day."
Again, the continuation of the wrestling story is shown in the reports of events at Gilsland and Whitfield, and a grand photo of young wrestlers and a huge rapt crowd at Corbridge.
Joseph Robson with his All Weights trophy won at Ambleside SportsWrestling in the south of the county is covered by the Westmorland Gazette, and there is a substantial wedge of cuttings which reflect the healthy state of Kendal Academy with articles about James Hayhurst and his remarkable season, and particularly an article about Joseph Robson, my Uncle Willie's great-grandson, who made a heartening return from dire illness to gain several wins, culminating in the All Weights at Ambleside, two days before he married.
When it comes to Penrith, Jeremy Godwin does not only cut out clippings, but also pores through the pages of the Penrith Herald for a century ago. The Coronation of George V sent villages into organising overdrive and there were Coronation Sports everywhere: Nenthead, Threlkeld, Lazonby, Armathwaite, Kirkoswald, Salkeld, Glassonby and so on. The new Wrestling Association was in the news with the allocations of championships, complaints about refereeing, and lovely illustration of the strict attitudes of the time when William Studholme of Great Broughton was absent from a meeting without an apology and was immediately suspended until he grovelled and the ban was lifted.

The indoor season was obviously important, too, for the North Westmorland Academy Championships figured largely in April. But there were warning signs when there was a poor turnout for the Penrith Academy's AGM which was £7 in the red, and it also notes that the academies at Carlisle and Wigton had failed recently.

A hundred years later it is good to note that wrestling for girls and boys featured in the Warcop School Sports: wrestling at its grass roots.

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (December 8th 2011)

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