Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 3/Races by Nude Men

Part III: Sports and Games; Races by Nude Men.

FOOT-RACES BY NUDE MEN.

A correspondent in Notes and Queries says:—"During the summer of 1824 I remember seeing at Whitworth in Lancashire [a hamlet in the parish, and three miles north of the town of Rochdale], two races, at different periods, of this description. On one occasion two men ran on Whitworth Moor, with only a small cloth or belt round the loins. On the other occasion the runners were six in number, stark naked, the distance being seven miles, or seven times round the moor. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of spectators, men and women, and it did not appear to shock them, as being anything out of the ordinary course of things. It is with reference to this usage, no doubt, that the Lancashire riddle says—

'As I was going over Rooley Moor, Rooley Moor shaked,
I saw four-and-twenty men running stark nak'd;
The first was the last and the last was the first.'

The answer is—The twenty-four spokes of a wheel."

Races by nude men are not yet extinct in many parts of Lancashire, notwithstanding the vigilance of the county police.