A North East tradition with roots in the 14th century is set to return again this New Year’s Day. The annual Ponteland Wheelbarrow race, which always attracts dozens of entries as well as drawing huge crowds, is now lining up teams to take part.
Organised by Ponteland 41 Club with the support of Ponteland Rugby Club and a number of volunteers, the race also uses the sponsorship and entry fees to support good causes. Participants follow a circular course, of around one mile, which starts and ends at The Blackbird pub. The record time for the course is eight minutes.
Origins of the wheelbarrow event
Legend has it that the roots of the race go back to the 14th century where Ponteland residents were suffering from a harsh winter, making food and fuel in very short supply.
Local leader, St John De Hornby, gathered the villagers and took them hunting, using wheelbarrows to bring their spoils back home.
Since that time the wheelbarrow race has become an annual tradition, sponsored by the Ponteland Wheelers – the name given to anyone who helps the event in any way.
This year’s race
This year’s race starts with the Noon Parade, followed by the Junior Race at 12.10pm, Ladies’ Race at 12.20pm and the Open Race at 12.40pm, with presentations to the winners at 1.15pm.
All the money raised will be shared between two charities, St Oswald’s Hospice and Tynedale Hospice at Home.
Ponteland 41 Club member and one of the organisers, Steve Roberts, is hoping that this year will be one of the best ever. He said:
“We are looking forward to organising another fantastic event which we hope people will come and support from Ponteland and beyond. It’s a well loved day out that people have on their calendars from one year to the next and we know it’s going to be another brilliant race.”
Stuart Young, owner of the award-winning Blackbird, is delighted to be supporting the event again. He said:
“The Blackbird is a really important part of the local community so getting behind the wheelbarrow race is something we like to do every year. It always has a great turn out and we love being able to welcome everyone into the pub both before and after the event.”
For more information about the race contact Steve Roberts at [email protected] or on 07785 242157.