A Little History of the Clog Championships

From the mid 19th century circ. clog dancing competitions became common and were held in local theatres and halls throughout the North of England. Standards were high and a competition often attracted a large number of entries. Prizes included Championship belts and money prizes. Competitors were asked to dance 10 and 20 steps finishing with a double shuffle so extreme fitness as well as intricacy and skill was required. Adjudicators, who were usually former champions, awarded marks on originality, beats, execution, carriage and timing. Occasionally the pedestal competitions took place and competitors had to dance on a confined area of a slate topped pedestal usually about 2 feet square.

The clothes worn by the dancers usually included velvet knee breeches, a shirt and a velvet waistcoat completed with a brightly coloured sash. The clogs themselves were often hand-made. The lace-up low miner's flat type of clog was used, the irons having always been removed. The clogs most preferred for dancing were made from ash as good clear beats could be more easily obtained. The more common beech or sycamore working clogs did not produce such sharp beats.

Dan Leno 1860-1904

Dan Leno, a famous clog dancer and Music Hall entertainer, won a purse of silver and a leg of mutton when competing in his first competition in Wakefield. He made his first real mark by winning the World Clog Dancing Championship belt in Oldham in 1883 when he was 22 years old.

Other clog dancing champions are Tom Ward and Tom Robinson between whom existed a long standing rivalry, Warren Doyle of Low Fell, Pitmans' Champion 1935, Dicky Farrell of Newbiggin, Joe Daley of Blaydon, Bob Oliver from Annfield Plain, Jim Ellwood of Twizell (Pitmans' Champion from 1896 - 1908), Jack Liscombe of South Shields, George Mackintosh and Johnson Ellwood to mention only a few.

The Clog Championship in the North-east lapsed in the mid 1950's but was revived by Johnson Ellwood in 1976. Since then it has continued and the present Championship belt has a record of all the Champions since that time.

Champions to date since 1977

1977 Doris Hawkes
1978 Doris Hawkes
1979 Doris Hawkes
1980 Brenda Walker
1981 Brenda Walker
1982 Lynette Eldon
1983 Jane Metcalfe
1984 Brenda Walker
1985 Brenda Walker
1986 Brenda Walker
1987 Jane Metcalfe
1988 Tiffany Walker
1989 Tiffany Walker
1990 Tiffany Walker
1991 Shona Harper
1992 Nicola Phillips
1993 - 1997 No competition held
1998 Jemma Liesicke
1999 Jemma Liesicke
2000 No competition held
2001 Jemma Liesicke
2002 Genevieve Steele
2003 Rebecca Metcalf
2004 Rebecca Metcalf
2005 Genevieve Steele
2006 Rebecca Metcalf
2007 Rebecca Metcalf
2008 Rebecca Metcalf
2009 Rachel Dillon
2010 Rachel Dillon
2011 Rachel Dillon
2012 Rebecca Adamson
2013 Rebecca Adamson
2014 Rebecca Adamson
2015 Ashley Landsbury
2016 Ashley Landsbury