New Year’s Greetings and an intriguing historical enquiry

Firstly I must convey my best wishes and good health for the New Year to everyone at the club and beyond, who visits this LWC blog from time to time. One way or another get a few miles in on New Year’s Day [if the body allows] – always a psychological boost for the months ahead or so I keep telling myself!

Secondly, given my desire to unearth at least some of our club’s history, find below an intriguing and fascinating overture from Colin Kirkham of the Coventry Godiva Harriers. Quite a few of us will remember Colin as an outstanding marathon runner, winner of the Athens Marathon in 1973 and a leading member of the famous Godiva team of the ’60s and ’70s, which boasted such luminaries as Dick Taylor, Basil Heatley, Brian Kilby and Bill Adcocks. On the race walking scene, Godiva’s great and unassuming ambassador was George Chaplin, who sadly passed away this year. I can still remember how chuffed I was to beat George for the very first time in the 1970 National 10 miles, managing to break away from a group of George, John Webb and Jake Warhurst in the last mile to finish 6th in 74:07 with Ron Wallwork 2nd, sandwiched between the two Germans, Wilf Wesch and Bernard Nermerich. It was something of a breakthrough race at a national level as our club finished 2nd team [Wallwork, Taylor,, Vickers, Hopkins] to Belgrave Harriers, whilst the Lancashire team [Wallwork, Taylor, Alan Callow [Isle of Man], Vickers] was third behind Essex and Surrey in the then hotly contested Inter-Counties championships.


Colin Kirkham writes:


I have spent a great deal of my time researching ‘The History of Coventry Godiva Harriers and Other clubs in the City over the last 140 years’. I have done this from the perspective of trying to highlight the effects of local education, industry, philanthropy, immigration and emigration, social (family / individual / longevity), geographical, political (small and big ‘P’), etc, influences have had on the success of the club.

Then I began to wonder what would have been the effect of such influences on a club that failed. A club that folded.

As I was brought up in Ingrow, Keighley, I looked at the short lifetime of Ingrow Harriers aka Ingrow Athletic Club, aka Keighley Harriers aka Keighley Parish Church Harriers aka Keighley and District Harriers ……. and the point of this letter, Keighley Walking Club, formed as a branch of the Yorkshire Walking Club which had its HQ on the Keighley side of Bradford [all this squeezed between 1892 and WW1]. For some curious reason, Keighley had a great deal of walking activity, this was beside the interest sparked by the walking boom of 1903.

To the point …. as part of my investigations into the local [Keighley] race walking scene 1875 to WW1 I have come across the enclosed photo about which I am trying to find information. The Lancashire Walking Club had an annual walk on Boxing Day, from Haworth [in Yorkshire] over the Herders [the Pennines] to Lanshaw Bridge in Lancashire, about 10 miles of severe climbs … I do mean severe. They would be walking into the prevailing wind and believe you me, the weather can be rough [this used to be part of my weekly ’20’, so I speak from experience].

Can any of your members in the Lancashire Walking Club offer any information why the chosen date and particular course?? Any details of any results? Any known members, or when the photo might have been taken … I think the pub is on Haworth Main Street, coincidentally where a few of the local fell races have their race HQ. at the present time. Are the trophies still current? And any suggestions as to why walking appeared so popular in a Victorian outpost like Keighley, both on the roads and at local Galas and Fetes – both amateur and pedestrian?

I appreciate that information might be non-existent, but thanks for any help you may be able to give.

I’ll follow up this post with a few thoughts next week on histories.

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1 Response to New Year’s Greetings and an intriguing historical enquiry

  1. Ian Vaughan says:

    Hi, Happy New Year all,
    Regarding reasons for Keighley in particular being a strong walking (race walking) place, a line of research might be organisation from local churches (social enterprise, similar to the Temperance movement of that time). In addition, it may be possible to search local newspapers of the time for clues, especially if they have been digitally archived.
    If there is anything in the recent LWC archives I will let you know.
    LWC formed soon after the 1903 boom. Interesting.

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