This bank holiday Monday marks the annual Tetbury Woolsack Race. The famous local race sees individuals and teams race up and down a hill with an exhausting 25% gradient, all while carrying a large sack of wool - 60lbs in weight for men, 35lbs for ladies. Crowds of up to 5000 people watch this exciting event which raises money for local charities and good causes. The town celebrates with a fun street fair that includes street entertainers, local stalls and amusement rides.
Historically, Tetbury was a famous wool market, dating back to the middle ages and at its peak during the 16th century. Over recent centuries the market waned, leaving behind a thriving brewing industry. Perhaps the activity of beer drinking amongst the wool-sellers, shepherds and drovers led to the idea of the wool sack race.
The Old Market House in Tetbury (credit: The British Library via Flickr)
It is thought that the races originated in the 17th Century. An official race day has been going for over 30 years now with world records entered in the ‘Guinness book of Records’. The woolsacks were custom built by the British Wool Federation, and the original course of 280yds ran from The Royal Oak to The Crown, but since 1999 a shorter course of 240yds has been run. The race events are complemented by a street fair featuring varied stalls, a funfair, musical entertainments and roving entertainers. In over thirty years of operation, the Woolsack Races have proven to be a fantastic family day out and (more importantly) have raised a considerable amount of much needed money for local causes.
The first 'official' Woolsack race in 1974 (credit: www.quirkyraces.com)
As Tetbury locals, we would really recommend coming to watch these exciting games! It's a great day out for all the family. Don't forget, Top Banana Antiques will be open from 10am - 5pm.
See more details about the Tetbury Woolsack Race on there website by clicking this link.