Bare-knuckle fighting at Trow Rocks

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IT’S a picturesque spot where you go to enjoy the crashing of the waves against a rocky shoreline sculpted by the sea.

But Trow Rocks in Shields has a turbulent past.

I don’t mean just in terms of its proximity to the boisterous North Sea.

I didn’t realise until coming across it numerous times, over a century or more of papers, that it had been associated with so many tragedies, from shipwreck, to accidents, even suicides.

Trow used to be outside the borough boundary, which I think was one reason why it was thought of as safe from prying eyes.

Illegal games of pitch and toss used to be played there.

But I didn’t know that it was also an informal arena for bare-knuckle fighting.

There is an eye-witness account of one of these fixtures from the 1890s, when two men, stripped to the waist, were seen scrapping, one of them bleeding profusely, while being urged on by a large crowd shouting ‘coarse oaths.’

The wager was half-a-sovereign, or 10s (50p) equivalent in value to nearer £30 today.