Pedestrian feats Alnwick Race Course – 1822, George Wilson displayed his extraordinary abilities over 24 hours, a few months later William Mullen (15) attempted the same feat.
Alnwick Gymnastic Games
1844-1859, in reality an athletics competition celebrating the Feast of St Michaels held on the Recreation Ground. The games were held over two days in the context of a two day holiday and were attended by local dignitaries of both sexes. They received the patronage of the local aristocracy including the Duke of Northumberland, the Earl of Beverley, Lord Ossulton and Earl Grey. The Duke donating £5 was the main subscriber. From 1852 the date changed to the end of July corresponding with the end of the summer Fair. This earlier date took into consideration ‘the (traditional) late season of the year proved ‘the weather ungenial for pleasant exercise’ and the ‘frequently unpropitious state of the weather in the latter month’. From 1855 the Games successfully changed to a one day meeting.
One Alnwick athlete David Anderson must go down in history as a world record holder. At the Bridge of Allan in August 1870, Anderson clearing 10’9” broke the World Professional Pole Leap record.
South Turnpike Road – from 1845 1 v 1 foot-race contests. The Press and in particular Bell’s Life and Sporting Illustrated like the railways did so much in the evolution of modern sport during the Victorian era. Bell’s Life in their weekly calendar of ‘pedestrianism what’s on’ listed the Alnwick matches. For example the 1844 evening contest over 100 yards between Young Lightfoot of Alnwick and the Bondgate Hero.
In 1883 Alnwick Cricket Club hosted its first annual Athletics meeting on August Bank Holiday Monday, replacing the previous gymnastic games. In 1888 sports were conducted under Amateur Athletics Association rules for the first time.These rules were first drawn up in 1880 and have been accepted ever since by world athletics. In 1896 the Alnwick Society of Amateur Athletics took over the organisation from the cricket club.
In 1890, Alnwick Harriers were formed for the first-time meeting in the Little Theatre behind the Nags Head. They were to disband on four occasions, the second re-organisation was in 1900. The short lived Hotspur Rugby Club regularly ran paperchase events as part of their training in the early 1880s.
Alnwick Training Camp – under the auspices of the North East Counties Cross Country Association the first ever WW1 Military Cross Country Running event started and finished in the pastures on February 20th 1915. Regular military races were held throughout the north east for the next sixteen months, with Alnwick always a popular venue. Inter-battalion sports including football, cricket, athletics and boxing took place as well as football and cricket matches against teams in the town.