Facts & Information

More Cheese Rolling Facts and Information

The Infamous Coopers Hill - Majestic yet menacing!
Looking up to the top of Coopers Hill - The hill towers above the cottages, showing it's scars a month after the event                              Josh, seen here contemplating the cheese and considering his race in 2020 maybe? - (photo by Malcolm Hopkins)                              The breathtaking view from the top of Coopers Hill - The cottages far below - This was in 2003 when only a single cheese was rolled
and Joshua Kaye with the 3.5kg Double Gloucester Cheese

Coppers Hill
Majestic, yet menacing!
Probably the most frequently asked questions are in regard to the Hill and particularly the incline!

Pictures, no matter how good, never show the reality of the steepness of the hill!
When you stand at the foot of the hill, it towers menacingly above you, you look up and up to the top, you realise you are looking right up at the sky! So steep is it, that the rays of the sun rarely fall on the slope itself!
Stand at the top, on the edge of the flat top, and look around you, you can see for many miles to the mountains in the distance, the view on a clear day is wonderful! Now look down to your feet, the ground falls right away from you, one slip and you will fall, now you see far below you, the finishing line, just before the cottages which from here look so small! It is terrifying to imagine running down such a slope!

The slope has a gradient that is in places 1-in-2 and in others 1-in-1, its surface is very rough and uneven and it is almost impossible to remain on foot for the descent.
Injuries incurred are usually minor and competitors (particularly the successful ones) enter again year after year.
Wet conditions are rewarded for the runners by a softer hill surface, with a reduced prospect of injury, whilst dry conditions make the ground harder for the fallers.

The Cheeses

The Wooden Cheese
(During and after the 1939-1945 war)
(Contained a tiny piece of cheese)
Food rationing was introduced in 1941 so a wooden ‘cheese’ was used until 1954. It was covered in paper and was decorated with the familiar red and blue ribbons. It had a small hole inside the packing where a tiny piece of cheese was placed, to maintain the ‘rolling of cheese’! Special permission was granted for this by the Ministry of Food.

The wooden cheese used is still in existence, ‘retained and preserved’ by a local resident.

In 1954, when food was de-rationed, real cheeses were once again used.

Record size of cheese The largest recorded cheese was presented by the New Zealand Dairy Products Marketing Commission. In celebration of the return of full size cheeses to the hill. It was a 40lb New Zealand Cheddar Cheese. 
Cheeses used today The cheeses used today are Double Gloucester cheeses weighing 7 – 8lb.

Producers, Presenters, Manufacturers and Suppliers of the Cheeses

1955 4 cheeses given by Messrs. J.Walter Thompson
1956 Cheeses supplied by Messrs. Vickers
1957 7lb. Caerphilly - supplier unknown 
1958 New Zealand Cheddar presented by Cheese Bureau
1959 Supplied by Messrs. Thurston, Newent
1960 R.N. Look (cheese maker) of Shepton Mallet gave one  Double Gloucester, the other cheeses were purchased from Calvers, a Brockworth shop
1961 – 1973 Double Gloucester cheeses were made and presented by R.N. Look
1974 & 1975 Cheeses were made by Mrs. Martell of Dymock
1976 – 1983 Cheeses were made by Castle Carey Dairies of Somerset 
From 1988 to the present day

Since 1988, the cheeses have been hand-made by Mrs. Diana Smart of Churcham, Gloucestershire, using milk from her herd of Brown Swiss, Holstein and Gloucester cows.  
Since 1988, the cheeses have been hand-made by Mrs. Diana Smart of Churcham - She is the only person in Gloucestershire now making Double Gloucester cheeses by hand, using traditional methods.
She is the only person in Gloucestershire now making Double Gloucester cheeses by hand, using traditional methods.

Cheese making - A guide to the process of making traditional Gloucester cheese.

The Double Gloucester Cheese Explained - The Single Gloucester Cheese too!

The Ladies Races

Ladies Race The earliest recorded ladies race was won by Jean Smith in 1936. There is no evidence to suggest that this was the first year for ladies. [If you know of an earlier ladies winner, please tell us]
Ladies Champions

There are three recorded, joint ladies champions with three cheeses each to date.

Rosemary Cooke
(Two of her wins were notable for the "Cheeses")
Winner of 3 Cheeses in the ladies races

* 1953 (the prize then was 10/- (50p) because of continuing rationing),
* 1955 (the first year of real cheese once more),
(that cheese in 1955 was a 30lb. Cheddar!)
* 1956 

 

1953 to 1956
Amanda Turner

 

Winner of 3 Cheeses in the ladies races

* 1981,
* 1982,
* 1983

 

1981 to 1983
Dionne Carter
Auckland, New Zealand

 

Winner of 3 Cheeses in the ladies races

* 2004,
* 2005,
* 2006 

 

2004 to 2006

The Master of Ceremonies - Roll of Honour

The present M.C This important office is currently held by Rob Seex, a dairy farmer from Upton St. Leonards
Period of office MCs in the past have died ‘in office’. Only one was recorded as ‘retiring’. They are ‘appointed’ CHCRC Ltd. (probably as being the only person to agree to do the job!!) There appears to be no ‘job description’!
Past M.C.s  
1884 – 1934

Bill Brookes - M.C. from 1884 to 1934

William (Bill) Brookes – lived on Cooper’s Hill - an employee of Midland Railway
In 1934 Tom Windo and H.Gregory officiated. - Bill Brookes died in October of that 1934
1934 – 1955

Tom Window - M.C. from 1934 to 1955

Tom Windo – worked at Cooper’s Hill Quarries – last M.C. to wear the traditional smock as it became irreparable – retired (so they don’t all have to die in office!) in 1955
1956 – 1973 Edward (Ted) Millard – farmer living at Well Close Farm – keen cricketer
1973 – 1989 Arthur Bick (in 1978 Arthur Bick was injured falling off a ladder so Bill Cooper took his place )
1990 – present

The Present M.C. Rob Seex - Appointed to the post in 1990

The Present M.C. Rob Seex – dairy farmer of Upton-St-Leonards

 Age of the Competitors

Youngest Competitor There is a minimum age of 18 years (At the discretion of the M.C.) to enter in the downhill events
Most senior competitor and truly an all-time champion of the event! Believed to be Stephen Gyde (43) from Brockworth - Competing in the event since 1978 - Last ran in 2006
Stephen is the holder of the record for number of cheeses won - standing at a total of 21.
Stephen is also the only competitor to have TWICE, won all three cheeses in a single year!
(At each of another 5 years, he went away with 2 of the three men's race cheeses)

Safety Considerations - Injuries to Competitors and Spectators

Competitors Inevitably there are injuries to competitors, the highest toll in recent years was 1997, when at least 33 were injured, resulting in the cancellation of the 1998 event due to concerns over competitor and spectator safety. (Injuries, are recorded as anything requiring treatment by  St John Ambulance, who have to 'log' every single ailment that comes to them - headaches, splinters etc. and these are all counted in their 'injuries' for the day.
Spectators Spectators too have sustained injuries whilst attending past events, some have slipped and tripped on the precipitous hill, sustaining injuries in their falls. Occasionally a wayward cheese has rolled into the spectators. One year a spectator was caught by the cheese which sent him tumbling down the hill where he received treatment from the paramedics.
Safety Some people win, some merely finish and many get injured, even the spectators, mostly sprains and minor injuries, but also broken bones. 
For those taking part in this potentially dangerous race, but to the competitors it seems to be a risk worth taking, as many come back year after year, some from great distances to win the highly prized cheese.
Each and every individual on the hill, must make their own, personal risk assessment and consider the dangers. CHCRC Ltd. strives to provide whatever safeguards they can, but running down a 1 in 2, in places, 1 in 1 hill, could never be considered a safe pastime!

The "Cheese-Rolling in Gloucestershire" Web Site (This Site)

First created in 1999 The Cheese Rolling Web Site was first created in 1999

The mission of the site is to provide information regarding the event, it's history, results and information on the future events.

Although the event occurs only once a year, the site is being constantly updated with new content and information. 

If you have any information, or photographs of the earliest events, these would be most welcome and would be considered for inclusion (with the appropriate credits) in this site. 
Please email:
cheese-rolling history with details.

The "Cheese-Rolling in Gloucestershire" web site is privately funded, is totally independent of and has no connection with CHCRC Ltd. The site is provided as a public information service for the benefit of the thousands of fans and competitors of the Cooper's hill Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire. Information is also provided for the Media Press and Broadcasters all of whom are always welcome at the event.

Webmaster services are provided by Audio Visual Services (avsglos) of Gloucester, who also sponsor Lushimaging

The Non-Cheese Rolling Years - (When the public Event Was Cancelled)
Although the Cheese Rolling at Cooper's hill continued un-interrupted, whatever the weather and even through the war years, and during times of food rationing during and after the war, there have been three times in recent years, that the public event has been cancelled due to causes beyond the control of the (then) organising committee!
1998 The police had been very concerned by the number of injuries (most of them fairly minor) that were reported the previous year. The announcement of the cancellation was issued to the press on Tuesday 19th. May, (the week before the Bank holiday) by the Cheese Roll Committee.  
2001 A widespread outbreak of 'Foot-and-mouth' disease lead to the near 'closure' of the countryside. The public was advised not to visit rural areas and even locals were not walking on the hill. It was therefore impossible to hold the event.
2003 SARAID were unavailable at short notice due to an earthquake in Algeria during May 2003 which required the assistance of the search-and -rescue team. Without their presence, the St. John team had to withdraw their services at short notice (3 days!) and the committee was forced once more to cancel the event.
However On each of these occasions a single cheese has been rolled by the committee, to maintain the tradition.

2010

(The enthusiasts took over and produced an unofficial event,) 

 

Cancellation of the event by the Committee of CHCRC Ltd, was announced on Friday 12th March, citing the inability to arrange suitable insurance in the time available since last years event.
This time however, things were to be different - It would not be just a private committee roll! 
The hard core of enthusiasts and fans found themselves unable to accept that the event had been cancelled, for what they considered unacceptable reasons. 
This time, the enthusiasts took over the event and organised an excellent program of Cheese Rolling, at the appointed time, on the hill and thus, they themselves, maintained the unbroken tradition of Cheese Rolling at Coopers Hill.

And So The Tradition of Cheese Rolling At Cooper's Hill Continues.
Is 2010 a sign of changing times at the Cheese Rolling?

Will Joshua compete in 2020? We Look Forward to finding out in the certain knowledge that if he wishes to compete, the hill and the event? will be there to welcome him. 

 

Webmaster - Last Edited 15-Jun-2010 21:07:11 avsglos

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