Emma Sharp

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Emma Sharp
Emma Sharp in the attire she wore for the 1000 mile walk
Emma Sharp in the attire she wore for the 1000 mile walk
OccupationPedestrianism and business

Emma Sharp (1832–1920) was an athlete famous for her feat of pedestrianism completing a 1000-mile walk in 1000 hours, the event first completed by Robert Barclay Allardice in 1809.[1][2] She is thought to be the first woman to complete the challenge, finishing on 29 October 1864, having started on 17 September that same year.[3][4] This 'arduous task' was reported in the newspapers of the day,[5][6] in which she was described as having a medium build but an active frame, dressed in male clothing with the exception of her straw hat which was adorned with 'feminine ornaments'.[7]

Quarry Gap pub – Dick Lane

She rested in the Quarry Gap pub, in Bradford, UK, in between walking approximately two mile stints every 90 minutes and completing 14,600 laps of 120 yards over the course of 1000 hours.[8] It is reported that her food was drugged and people attempted to trip her to prevent her from finishing, for the last two days she carried a pistol to protect herself. At the end of the walk the weather was extremely wet. The event was heavily wagered upon both in Leeds and provincial towns.[9]

Sharp is reported to have used the proceeds of the walk, which exceeded £500,[10] to set up a rug making business in Perseverance works in Laisterdyke, and to have had a life in business after the event.[11]

Her journey was covered by Horrible Histories and broadcast on children's BBC (CBBC).[12]


She was married to mechanic John Sharp. Her granddaughter Ann Land retained her walking stick as a memento. Her great great granddaughter Kathy Nicol was interviewed on the subject of the 1000 mile walk in 2009.[2] A distant relative, Val Moran, planned to match the achievement around Lennox Gardens, Adelaide Australia in 2009.[8]


  1. ^ "Forgotten History: the Story of Emma Sharp and the Barclay Challenge". Today I Found Out. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b Barnett, David (29 May 2009). "Long walk to put women on the map". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  3. ^ Mead, Helen (15 September 2014). "Great walk celebrated". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Lady Pedestriens". Dundee Evening Telegraph. 6 June 1903 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  5. ^ "Journal of Illustrated Sporting News". No. March 1864 to September 1865. 21 January 1865.
  6. ^ "The Borough of Marylebone Mercury". 24 September 1864.
  7. ^ "Extraordinary Pedestrian Feat in Bradford". The Bedford Times and Bedfordshire Independent. 24 September 1864.
  8. ^ a b Priestley, Mike (3 October 2007). "Val steps in ancestor's history". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Bradford". Leeds Times. 19 October 1865.
  10. ^ "A thousand miles in a thousand hours". The Daily Post. 2 November 1864 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  11. ^ "Day By Day". Bradford Daily. 29 November 1905. p. 2 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  12. ^ "Emma Sharp, the woman who walked 1000 miles in 1000 hours". HHTV Sport. Series 5. Episode 4. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2019.