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Hats off to Leeds this Yorkshire Day as museum celebrates in style


Hold onto your hats – a sporting spectacle with a difference is heading to Leeds this Yorkshire Day.

Leeds Industrial Museum will be brimming with excitement on August 1 when, for the first time ever, the historic site plays host to none other than the Yorkshire Open Hat Throwing Championships.

The exciting day of flat cap flinging will give museum visitors a chance to throw their hat into the ring and take part in a contest which began almost a decade ago on the edge of the iconic Ilkley Moor.

The brainchild of Bradford-based poet Glyn Watkins, as its name suggest, the competition involves throwing hats at a stationary pole or target in a test of nerve, hand-eye coordination and accuracy.

Governed by the Transnational Incorporated Federation of Formally Thrown Hat Associations (T.I.F.F.T.H.A) the rules of the contest require all hats be safe to throw, and no metal is allowed.

Explaining how the event started, Glyn Watkins said: “In 2009 I was trying to create the alternative fringe thing in Ilkley and on Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at just came into my head, closely followed by a vision of competitive hat throwing.

“The combination of Yorkshire’s anthem being about a man who’s lost his hat on Ilkley Moor and getting people to throw hats at a target just seemed right.”

From those humble beginnings, the event grew in size and stature, with the second year attracting international competitors and crowning a 12 year-old champion.

Now, almost ten years later, Glyn is hoping the added attraction of hosting this year’s championships at such a historic location on Yorkshire Day will make it the best yet.

He added: “It’s always worked well, even when it’s been hard work due to the weather and literally anybody that can throw a hat, of any age I’ve had the Lord Mayor of Bradford wearing his chain and police officers having a go.

“Leeds Industrial Museum is full of quirky and unexpected things and competitive hat throwing fits it like a topper. And having the Yorkshire Open Championship on Yorkshire Day just makes me glad I threw my hat into the ring with Leeds.”

Running from 11 am to 3 pm on Wednesday, August 1, entry to the competition is included in museum admission charges.

All visitors to the museum on the day will be eligible for entering and hats will be provided.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “Each year Yorkshire Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate everything that we know makes Leeds and Yorkshire such a unique and distinctive place.

“We are a city with a very special heritage and hosting an event like this commemorates that history as we also showcase the lighter side of Leeds.”

A former mill built in 1805 by noted industrialist Benjamin Gott, Leeds Industrial Museum was once the world’s largest woollen factory.

Production there ended in 1969 and the site opened as Leeds Industrial Museum in 1982. Today it is home to traditional looms and a spectacular array of vintage textile equipment.

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