Do you want a piece of Britain’s unique culture? Here’s an unusual game in the UK that you’d indeed find interesting –the Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race!
We can always get surprised or bewildered by unique games, sports, and traditions that people play and observe worldwide. There is no doubt that lively and well-organized events give a refreshing feeling and immense entertainment to participants and viewers alike. Certain events’ unique traits and rules and the joy they bring explain why they still exist until today. It doesn’t even matter whether they are publicly or privately celebrated in countries, towns, or even small villages. In this post, we’re going to take a look at one of the most peculiar racing events in the UK, known as the Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race.
Read on and find out why British people are so into this event!
Everything You Need to Know about the Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race
The Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race is a unique game and charity fundraising event that involves two-person teams and wheelbarrows. The first person has to be on the wheelbarrow while the second one pushes it. Halfway through the race, the two participants have to switch positions.
This event is widely celebrated Ponteland, a civil parish and a town in Northumberland, England. This place, which name means “island and the Pont,” has successfully managed to keep its annual race event celebrated and watched –at least until 2020. Notably, this race had gone for so long, about 700 years! Such a long time always comprises happy memories, struggles, and achievements for the audience and participants alike.
Well, if you do not carry loads or work in a garden, you may find it hard to imagine an image of a wheelbarrow. A wheelbarrow is a small cart with a single wheel at the front and two supporting legs, and two handles at the rear. In the game, the person pushing the wheelbarrow must have strength and balance, as the wheelbarrows can easily flip. One of the participants has to occupy the wheelbarrow throughout the race. The other pushes and maintains its balance. This game involves great trust because the safety of the contestant is in the hands of their partner.
How Did the Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race Start?
The Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race is a mile-long, circular course race. It is usually played in New Year, the town’s yearly tradition in the early 14th Century. Back then, the townspeople struggled and faced challenges because of the severe winter during that time. The Lord of the Manor encouraged the people to go out and forage in the surroundings. This landowner believed that if the residents are outside and gathering together, they can help each other survive the hardships brought by the bitter winter.
Traditionally, the race begins at noon at the Blackbird Inn, the village center in Ponteland. It is located beside St. Mary’s Parish Church. Since the game follows a circuitous course system, the starting point is also the finish line. Each member of the two-person team gets to experience riding the wheelbarrow because the rule is to change halfway through the race.
Who Facilitates the Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race?
Initially, it was the locals who organized the race. However, after it had acquired quite some recognition, the residents decided to establish a group of organizers. They are now known as the Ponteland 41 Club and Ponteland Rugby Club. These clubs are mainly composed of volunteers. Through donations from sponsors, participants, and spectators alike, the organization raises money for the chosen recipients. They also provide wheelbarrows for the participants. A minor part goes for the food and safety equipment of the event’s marshals.
As years went by, the Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race dramatically turned into a more significant charity event. This unique game gives entertainment and excitement and serves as an opportunity to raise money for the needy. For instance, interested teams need to pay to enter the race. Payments of £10 are for the adult’s team, while £5 goes for the children’s groups. In the 2017 race alone, the residents were able to receive over £1400 donations. The funds went to the two nominated charities, the St. Oswald’s Hospice and Tynedale Hospice at Home. In 2018, the organizers announced that they have managed to raise £2500.
Other Fascinating Things You Can Enjoy In and Around Ponteland, Northumberland
If the Ponteland Wheelbarrow Race has successfully got your attention, and you are considering the possibility of witnessing it yourself, then perhaps you should know that many other things can fascinate you in this place aside from the unique racing event.
Read on and discover more of what Northumberland can offer!
Northumberland is home to a unique breed of cattle.
True survivors –this is how the locals describe the unique herd of cattle that roam in Chillingham Park. They believe that these animals are descendants of the packs that roamed the ancient forests of Britain more than 700 years ago. Notably, the cattle look identical to one another or what they call natural clones.
However, while they prove to be a marvelous sight, you should keep in mind never to go too near. These unique cattle are entirely natural and untamed. They can be dangerous, so make sure to follow the rules and protocols of the park and seek the guidance of their warden.
Northumberland is the birthplace of the world-famous Earl Grey Tea!
The place is not only notable for its breathtaking landscapes and architecture, but it is also the birthplace of some of the most prominent figures in British history.
But perhaps one of the most notable was Charles 2nd Earl Grey, the prime minister responsible for the 1832 Great Reform Bill. But ironically, he was better known for the drink named after him, the Earl Grey Tea, which was his favorite afternoon drink. His household at Howick Hall has vast and spectacular gardens full of these exotic plants.
Northumberland can give you one of the best stargazing experiences.
Northumberland is a proud recipient of the Gold-tier International Dark Sky status. It also boasts the largest area of well-protected night skies in all of Europe. Thanks to their excellent conservation efforts and awareness of light pollution, you can have one of the best stargazing experiences in this place. You don’t even need state-of-the-art telescopes as you can enjoy around 2000 stars with your naked eye! That’s how clear the skies of Northumberland are!
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