Exhibition by Leigh artist rediscovers forgotten illegal sport
11:30am Tuesday 7th January 2014 in NW
A FORGOTTEN sport is the focus of a new exhibition thanks to a Leigh artist.
Anna FC Smith has been rediscovering the history of purring (pronounced porrin’ in Wigan or parrin’ in Leigh) or clog fighting, an illegal sport and gambling activity played in the alleyways and dark corners of the borough.
Popular with miners, the sport fell out of favour in the late 1930s and has little presence in local history books - that is until Anna began to look into it for the exhibition.
Through archival investigation and interviews with the public, Anna has discovered details of the sport that saw colliers engage in man on man combat, kicking unprotected shins with their wooden and metal soled clogs.
Anna said: “The public response has been great. So many people have got in touch to tell me their stories or their grandparents stories of purring.
“One person got in touch that used to organise fights and another described a fight he had witnessed in 1952 in Leigh Town Centre. I’m panicking a little bit but I’m really excited to bring it all together finally.
“I have tried to recreate the atmosphere of a fight by borrowing some dancing clogs and kicking a stick with pork on the end in an attempt to mimic the sound. It is exhausting but that's probably why the champions were so admired by the community.”
The exhibition called Purring – Sport of the People, includes film, sound clips of interviews and drawings by Anna of the stories she has gathered and takes place from Saturday, January 18, until Saturday, April 26, at the Museum of Wigan Life.
To find out more about the exhibition, call the museum on 01942 828122 or visit www.wlct.org/whatson.
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