The popular BBC TV series, Antiques Road Trip, made by STV Productions visited Penrith and Eden Museum this week to interview Museum Curator, Corinna Leenen about William Jameson (1837-1888), Penrith’s famous Cumberland & Westmorland wrestling champion.
Museum Curator, Corinna Leenen said: “Television production company, STV, who make Antiques Road Trip for the BBC approached us to film items in the Museum’s collection relating to Cumberland & Westmorland wrestling and we were of course delighted to help.
“We have the largest collection of memorabilia including championship belts and trophies relating to Penrith’s legendary wrestler William Jameson, one of the greatest exponents of this traditional local sport. He was described as ‘One of the most noted athletes of the north and for many years Champion Wrestler of England’. A native of Penrith, he was a joiner by trade and later proprietor of the Griffin Inn in the town’s Cornmarket until his death in 1888.
“Having a popular TV show such as Antiques Road Trip visit the Museum will hopefully help highlight this traditional sport and this key character from Penrith’s past.”
After visiting Penrith and Eden Museum, the Antiques Road Trip crew filmed a live Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling match, to further publicise the local sport.
STV Productions series producer, John Redshaw said: “We really enjoyed visiting Penrith and Eden Museum to learn more about William Jameson and we met some fantastic people who made filming a real pleasure. As always, the new series of Antiques Road Trip will be full of laughs, friendly rivalries and lots of great characters, as our experts are back on the road to search high and low for weird and wonderful antiques and hear about local history along the way.”
William Jameson Champion Wrestler
William Jameson weighed up to 17 stones, but was so light on his feet that he excelled, not only as a wrestler by virtue of his great weight and strength, but also as a runner and jumper, and in the long leap, and pole leap, being reputed to have cleared the bar both ways at 10 feet 3 inches with the pole. As a wrestler, his recorded major wins were in 1858 at the Talkin Tarn Regatta and Armathwaite.
In 1860 he won the famous Carlisle Wrestling All-Weights Championship for the first five times. In 1861, he won the London, Cumberland & Westmorland style wrestling for the first of five times inside ten years, and also beat his greatest rival, Longtown gamekeeper, Dick Wright, four times in one day at Newcastle. From that time, until his retirement sixteen years later he held undisputed sway in every wrestling ring.
When Jameson settled in Penrith at the former Sun Inn in Little Dockray, he issued a challenge to the world at wrestling but it was never taken up. In 1870 he and Wright figured in an international match with two French wrestlers, Le Boeuf and Dubois, in London and in the respective national styles. There is also a record of a match on Penrith bowling green in 1876 between Jameson and a French wrestler.
Jameson took over the Griffin Inn Cornmarket (north-side) in 1873, as tenant and later bought the premises for £1,280. It had ceased to be an inn when he died there in 1888. Jameson is buried in Penrith Cemetery where a marble-on-sandstone pillar marks his grave. He won many trophies in his career and the Penrith Museum collection comprises nine belts, half a dozen silver cups, and three wrestling medals. The collection was given to the Museum in 1952 by Mr J W Jameson of Eamont Bridge.
For more information about Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling, including the The Espoirs Championships 2018 event being planned to take place in Penrith from 6-9 April 2018 visit www.cumberland-westmorland-wrestling-association.com or find the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Association on Facebook.