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Northern Record Breakers

by Jim Coulson

FROM EXPENSIVE PIES TO SMOKE-FREE BARS, NORTHERNERS ARE BREAKING UNUSUAL RECORDS

The world secretly knows that we northerners are the best at pretty much everything, but they just don’t like to admit it. So, it is down to us to, once again, blow our own trumpets. This article is a celebration of those individuals from Yorkshire, Lancashire and our close neighbours who have displayed that dedication, dedication, dedication (that’s what they need) to smash world records in their respective fields.

BLOWN AWAY

Roy Castle

Where better to start than with the dancer, singer, comedian, actor, television presenter and musician Roy Castle? Born in Scholes, near Holmfirth, this proud Yorkshireman was a multiple record breaker, and none of them were for possessing the world’s largest CV. Having worked with Morecambe and Wise, Ronnie Barker, the Carry On team and a host of other legends, he settled into the role of presenter and theme tune singer of the BBC’s Record Breakers in 1972, a position he held until his death in 1994.

He was the first person to manage a million tap dancing taps in 24 hours…

The legendary Castle not only became a household name, he also joined in the fun and broke nine world records during his stint as host. He was the first person to manage a million tap dancing taps in 24 hours and held the record for the fastest tap dance too, managing 1,440 taps per minute, which is 24 taps per second.

In addition, he managed a wing walk of three hours 23 minutes on top of a plane just to prove that he had range when it came to record breaking too.

Roy lost his battle with lung cancer in 1994, something the non-smoker blamed on his years working in smoky jazz clubs. His wife Fiona continued the good work he had begun with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, eventually leading to smoking bans in each of the four nations of the United Kingdom.

PIE-EYED

Look, we’re not trying to make out that northerners are obsessed with food, but these parts are also home to the world record for the most expensive meat pie ever. This was achieved by the team at the Fence Gate Inn in Pendle, Lancashire in 2005 and, despite rampant inflation, it remains the record holder today. The pie in question cost £1,024 per slice or a cool £8,195 for the whole thing and was, it has to be said, a little bit special. Inside the pie was £500 worth of Japanese wagyu beef fillet, which is favoured by the world’s most luxurious restaurants. It also contained Chinese matsutake mushrooms, which have to be harvested under guard they are so sought after, Winter Black truffles, French Bluefoot mushrooms, gravy made from two bottles of vintage 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild wine and edible gold leaf to top off the pastry.

A group of eight hungry diners ordered the dish in November 2005.

Although eight grand might soon only be enough to get you a Gregg’s steak bake, back in the midnoughties, this was a massively extravagant addition to the menu, so you could be forgiven for thinking it was something they put on their menu in order to gain publicity, never actually serving it. But you would be wrong. A group of eight hungry diners ordered the dish in November 2005. Hopefully, they hadn’t misread and thought there was meant to be a decimal point somewhere in the price tag. If so, they might still be washing up today to pay off their debt.

 

WON’T BE BEATEN!

There are some records that make sense. Someone has a hobby or passion and they push themselves to become the best at it. And then there are records that are so niche or outlandish that you have to wonder where they idea came from. David Donoghue’s is definitely in the latter camp.

As his chopper whirred over the landscape, he was clutching an egg. An egg that he was about to drop.

In August 1994, David flew high above the town of Blackpool on Lancashire’s coast. Many people have soared over the bustling resort in a helicopter before, eagerly seeking out a new and exciting view of the famous tower and piers. Not David, though. David had another mission in mind. As his chopper whirred over the landscape, he was clutching an egg. An egg that he was about to drop. You see, for some reason, David was keen on breaking the world record for, in the words of the Guinness World Records bigwigs, “highest egg drop (unprotected).”

The rules are that fresh eggs must be dropped from height and remain intact after falling to earth. David achieved a successful drop of 213 m (700 ft) to break the record, something which has yet to be beaten. BEATEN! It wasn’t a fluke, either. He’d really thought about it. At the time, he said “You have to get the forward velocity equal to the downward velocity, then get the egg to land nearly perpendicular on a steep slope.” So now you know. Incidentally, the record for dropping a protected egg (whatever that means) without breaking it is held by an American and stands at a paltry (poultry?!) 11.80 metres (38.7 feet).

MONSTER PUD

You probably know someone in your local Round Table or Rotary Club and understand that they dedicate themselves to working in their communities. But has your local group broken a world record? And an extra special Yorkshire world record at that? Skipton Round Table did just that in June 1996.

The good people of the Round Table used cement lorries to mix the mighty batter…

They created the world’s largest Yorkshire pudding at a special event held at Broughton Hall and it was so big, the record still stands today. The good people of the Round Table used cement lorries to mix the mighty batter (you can find the photos online and it is well worth your time doing so), and created a monster pud measuring 46.46 m² (500 ft²)!

It is fitting that the record is held by a group in the county, although details are sketchy on how much gravy was poured over it once it was cooked.

NorthernLife July/August 2022