A celebration of a historic walk by a Bradford woman is to take place.

In September 1864 Emma Sharp, the wife of a Bowling Iron Works employee, began a walk that would last for almost six weeks.

She did so in response to a newspaper report about an Australian woman who had tried and failed to walk 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours.

Despite her husband’s efforts to dissuade her, she arranged with the publican of the Quarry Gap Hotel on Dick Lane, Laisterdyke, to fence off the adjoining field and charge spectators admission, the proceeds to be split between Emma and the publican.

She also had the use of a ‘retiring room’ in the pub, as the walk took place in stints of 90 minutes, with equal breaks in between.

She completed the walk and, despite efforts at sabotage by some of those who bet against her – someone even threw red hot cinders in her path – she raised what was then a large sum of money.

The event was well reported in the media: the local newspaper, the Bradford Observer, ran a headline on September 17 which said ‘Extraordinary Pedestrian Feat.’ Now, Kathy Nicol, one of Emma’s direct descendants and a long-standing member of Laisterdyke Local History Group, is arranging a celebration. This will take place tomorrow from 2pm to 5pm at the Tyersal Club on Tyersal Road, not far from the scene of the walk. Kathy has a number of mementos of her great-great grandmother, including a large portrait of her great-great-grandmother, including a large portrait of her in her walking costume – a trouser suit! The newspaper reported: ‘She was dressed in male attire – red and black checked coat and inexpressibles, white waistcoat, laced boots, turn-down collar and scarf – almost the only indication of her sex being in her large drooping straw hat, which was ornamented with a white feather and other feminine adornments.’ Kathy, who grew up in Laisterdyke but now lives in Pickering, North Yorkshire, didn’t know Emma, who died in 1920, but her grandmother, Ann Land, passed on family stories. She also has a number of mementos including Emma’s walking stick.

Secretary of the Laisterdyke Local History Group Gina Bridgeland says: “People flocked to see her. She must have been an amazing sight, in her trouser suit. On the last day of the walk the locals roasted an ox and there was a silver band playing.”

Afterwards, Emma, an astute businesswoman, started a rug-making company.

A free fact sheet prepared by Kathy’s daughter Dawn will be available at the club, and copies of the history group’s publication Laisterdyke Lives, which includes a full account of the walk, will be on sale at half-price, £2.99.

Says Gina: “The book explains how Emma’s descendants continued to live in the area. It is great that Emma’s memory is still being kept alive by her descendants.”

The book features stories including a tale about Margaret Calvert, one of the first female bank workers in Bradford, who was employed at the Yorkshire Bank in Laisterdyke, and Polly Tomlinson, who along with her grandfather, father and brothers, was a member of the local silver band. For details on how to gain copies of Laisterdyke Lives, or to contact the group, contact Gina Bridgeland on 01484 721845.