These boots are made for walking



Another Ellander who is now sadly forgotten but once was a world champion walker – James W. Raby. He was born in New Street in 1859. He did not begin competitive walking until in his 20s and after he was married. At his peak Raby held 13 out of a possible 15 world records! Years ago the Courier accorded him the accolade of local ‘Sportsman of the Century’. A search through the archive reveals many of Raby’s triumphs.


‘On the evening of Monday 20th August 1883 at Lillie Bridge Grounds, West Brompton, James Hibberd and J.W.Raby contested their one hour’s walking match for £100 and the championship. Raby immediately took the lead and walking in magnificent style drew away from his opponent at every mile. He eventually won by 390 yards and in the hour had covered exactly 8 miles, 109 yards and 2 feet. His mile times were 6 minutes, 13 mins. 20 mins. 27 mins. 35 mins. 43 mins. 51 mins and 59 minutes’.

After winning the Salisbury Cup at Fulham Cross for the second consecutive year in 1900 Raby was given the trophy to keep.

It is recorded that when Raby worked at Low Moor he used to walk home to Elland for his dinner. When his family moved to King Cross he would regularly walk home for lunch and then be back at work at Elland Gasworks within the hour. ‘He always used to walk in the middle of the road because there was no room for him on the causeway’. Not just a great athlete but also the man must have had the stamina of an ox. James W. Raby died on 10th May 1935 in Nottinghamshire.

David J. Glanfield
Greater Elland Historical Society


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