42. Tetbury Woolsack Races

The Tetbury Woolsack Races draw hundreds of spectators to the Cotswold town each year. Pictures by Christine GibbCompetitors in the Tetbury Woolsack Races have to negotiate the unforgiving Gumstool Hill.

The Cotswold town of Tetbury celebrates its wool heritage each May with a gruelling event that date back hundreds of years.

The Tetbury Woolsack Races is traditionally held on the Whitsun, now the Spring Bank Holiday Monday at the end of May.

The event sees runners carrying sacks of wool up Gumstoll Hill, an extremely steep street in the centre of Tetbury, watched by hundreds of spectators. Many of the competitors come from local rugby teams or the British Army.

The woolsacks are 60lb for men’s races and 35lb for women’s.

The original course of 280 yards ran from the Royal Oak to The Crown, but since 1999 a shorter course of 240 yards has been run.

It is thought that the races originated in the 17th Century by young drovers showing off to local womenby running up the hill carrying a woolsack. 
Youngsters also enjoy taking part in the Tetbury Woolsack Races.
The woolsack races are complemented by a street fair featuring a funfair, musical entertainments and roving entertainers.

An official race day has been going for more than 30 years with world records entered in the Guinness Book of Records.

Stephen Hirst, one of the event's organisers, said: "Tetbury Woolsack Day is a great free day out for the whole family. The popularity of the woolsack races rises every year with increasing number of contestants in all classes.

"Whilst the history of Woolsack goes back to the Middle Ages when the importance of Tetbury as an international wool trading town was at its height, the modern reincarnation is equally as important both as a free day out and a great way of raising charitable funds."

More information

The 2016 Tetbury Woolsack Races are due to take place on Monday, May 30.



© Loving The Cotswolds. 2021.