When news reached us of champion jockey-turned-racing pundit Richard Dunwoody’s attempt to walk 1,000 miles for charity in 1,000 consecutive hours, we were put in mind of a great Bradfordian woman who pulled off a similar feat.

Mr Dunwoody is today beginning his challenge at Newmarket, and will walk the same stretch of road – half a mile there and half a mile back to his starting point – 1,000 times, taking an hour to do each.

It was back in 1864 when Emma Sharp of Laisterdyke determined she was also going to walk 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours.

Although others had tried the same stunt – most notably Scotsman Robert Barclay in 1809 – Emma is thought to be the first woman to have completed the challenge.

You’d have thought it would have been cause for celebration among her friends and families, but social mores being what they were in the height of the Victorian era, her husband John was so embarrassed by the attention on her that he hid away in the pub until it was all over.

And this was no – pardon the pun – walk in the park. The 31-year-old Emma took her dog with her and even carried a gun for protection against nobbling efforts.

Emma’s great great grand-daughter, Kathy Nicol, told us recently: “She’d heard about an Australian woman who’d tried to do the 1,000-mile walk and she decided to try it herself,” says Kathy, who grew up in Laisterdyke and now lives in York.

“She booked a room at the Quarry Gap pub on Dick Lane and employed a woman to tend her feet. She did two-mile stages, resting at the pub in between.”

Emma dressed in more comfortable men’s clothing – described in the Bradford Observer as “red and black checked coat and inexpressibles” – the latter being used to describe the scandalous wearing of trousers by a woman.

The whole walk took from September 17 to October 29, and when she finished – despite her husband’s evident discomfort – there was a brass band, sheep roast and firework display to mark her triumph.

Kathy told us: “People placed bets on whether she’d make it. Some stood to lose money if she made it, and there were sabotage threats. It’s said that she had armed escorts for the last few days, as well as carrying pistols herself.”

Although she didn’t do it for a bet herself, Emma made money from the walk, but Kathy believes that wasn’t the main incentive.

“My gran talked of a four-figure sum, a huge amount in those days. I think she did it to show she could do it and to put women on the map. She became quite a celebrity.”

John must have overcome his embarrassment, though, because he agreed to use the money his wife made to set up a rug-making business, the Perseverance Works in Laisterdyke.

Back in the present day, Mr Dunwoody isn’t doing his walk for a bet either – it’s to raise money for a variety of good causes – Alzheimer’s Society, Sparks, Racing Welfare and Spinal Research.

We’re sure that the spirit of Emma Sharp will be cheering him on.

If you want to follow Mr Dunwoody’s progress, log on to the internet and go to his website at dunwoody1000mile.com, or find him on Facebook (Richard Dunwoody-Challenge) or Twitter (twitter.com/richarddunwoody)