Digging deep for memories a sport which is known all over the North East - have you had a go?

Who knew! Coal carrying has its own world championships – as well as a rich history of competition across the North East.

The village of Gawthorpe near Wakefield welcomed more than 140 competitors for the World Coal Carrying Championship just a few weeks ago.

But it’s just as big a deal closer to home and strongmen from areas such as South Tyneside and Hartlepool have been doing it for years.

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In South Tyneside, it was known as a coal carrying contest while further down the road, it’s called the Nutty Slack race and is part of the Headland Carnival in Hartlepool.

Coal carrying races have a strong tradition in the North East. Have you taken part?

Have you taken part and what are your memories of the race?

And while you are casting your minds back, let’s look at some North East exponents of the sport.

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One champion was South Shields’ meat haulier Ted Nicholson, who won the annual coal carrying test at Gypsies Green Stadium in 1970.

The race entailed Ted and his fellow competitors carrying sacks of coal on their shoulders over a 1,100-yard course.

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The Gazette report in 1970 on Ted Nicholson's coal carrying achievements.

He won in four minutes and 39 seconds, beating former world champion Gordon Froment – who had travelled from Leeds for the event – by “a body.”

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Ted did so well that he was second in the 1970 Sports Week personality of the year contest in South Tyneside.

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The event may be called by a different name in Hartlepool, but it is just as much a tradition, and is still going strong.

The Nutty Slack Race in Hartlepool in 2014.
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It is known as the Nutty Slack Derby and strongmen would carry a hundredweight sack of coal on their back from the Bridge Hotel to St Hilda’s Hospital.

A Hartlepool Mail report from the 1978 event said: “The competitors have to carry the sack to St Hilda’s Hospital where they can get assistance they might well be needing!"

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In 2017, the race was won by Peter Slack, 26, who was a last-minute entrant.

He said at the time: “I thought I would just come down and give it a go. I thought it would be nice to support the tradition.”

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A close-up on Ted's 1970 triumph in South Shields.

Can anyone tell us if the sport has a tradition in Sunderland? Or maybe you have competed in one of the South Tyneside or Hartlepool races.

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Tell us more by emailing [email protected]

Peter Slack pictured as he won the 2017 Hartlepool Carnival Nutty Slack race.