Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Association

Cuttings from the Archives



My annual consignment of cuttings and references from my personal archivist arrived just before Christmas. Jeremy Godwin of Penrith was a young stalwart in the Archives at Carlisle Castle when I first knew him, and retirement never did seem to stem the flow of archive work. He sends cuttings relevant to C&W wrestling and a few on Belted Galloways, my other passion, from a wide range of Cumbrian local newspapers. In addition, he spends more time making notes on the local Penrith papers in his doctors' handwriting. The result is that I am given a sudden annual review of wrestling as seen and reported county wide, plus a bit of Northumberland courtesy of the Hexham Courant.
My initial reaction was to notice the absence of pieces from the fifty of hundred years ago columns which used to furnish me with lurid tales of drunken wrestlers disturbing the peace, or village sports taking place an age ago. Now the county's papers do an excellent job of advertising events to come and very often have an action shot of two wrestlers in hold, but there is no reporting on the hipes and hanks of actual competition. The Westmorland Gazette does, though, have an excellent photo of Graham Brocklebank with his heavyweight championship trophy at the County Show, and a brief summary of his year's successes.
The Hexham Courant takes the prize for the best photo with a head-and-shoulders image of Aaron Younger and Max Bates at the straining point, with shadowy out-of-focus spectators behind. Sadly, the tag-line underneath indicates that the photo was taken the previous year, rather than being a hot-off-the-press action shot.
The historical angle was inspired by village and Family History Society newsletters, and a book published in 1925 on "Our Cumberland Village" about Kirkoswald, through the lens of Col Fetherstonhaugh's diary 1762-1839. He recounts days for the locals, fuelled by casks of ale and wrestling for belts in 1816.
Grasmere 1872, George Steadman takes hold of Richard Wright

Most interesting of all was Jeremy Godwin's transcription of the fifty years ago column of the C&W Herald for June 1918. So, in 1868, at Orton Fair with "a lot there and many gipsies", the sports that evening included wrestling, and the footrace was won by G Steadman, Drybeck. George Steadman was born in 1846 and was to become the greatest single wrestler in our history, but apparently he could also run and jump, too.

Coincidentally, an email enquiry came through this week from Ruslan Pashayev, from Ohio, USA: "I have in my results collection which I was gathering on British Library Newspaper Archives for years, all detail of the Catch Hold Championship aka The Astley belt (1880-81-82) a unique title held by famous Back Hold champion Steadman. I would love to share it with CWWAssn."
Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling spreads wide in time and place.


(Written by Roger Robson ..... ©All Photographs on this site are the copyright of Roger Robson, Jill Robson, Julian Richardson, Linda Scott or Webmaster. Unauthorised usage is forbidden {2018} ©)
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