Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake

51°49′48″N 2°09′29″W / 51.82991°N 2.15812°W / 51.82991; -2.15812

The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is an annual event held on the Spring Bank Holiday at Cooper's Hill, near Gloucester in England.[1] Participants race down the 200-yard (180 m) long hill chasing a wheel of Double Gloucester cheese. The event has a long tradition, held by the people of the local village of Brockworth, but now people from all over the world take part. The Guardian called it a "world-famous event", with winners coming from Canada, Belgium, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.[2][3]

A view down Cooper's Hill, from the start point of the race to the finish (where the dog-walkers are). The face of the hill itself is concave, and hence cannot be seen from this angle. The bottom posts are signs from the local council requesting that, to avoid soil erosion, people do not walk on the face of the hill. The posts are removed for the annual event.

The most recent event was held on 29 May 2023.[4]


From the top of the hill, a 7–9 pounds (3–4 kilograms) round of Double Gloucester cheese is sent rolling down the hill, which is 200 yards long. Competitors then start racing down the hill after the cheese.[5] The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese. The competitors aim to catch the cheese; however, it has around a one-second head start and can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour (110 kilometres per hour),[5] enough to knock over and injure a spectator. Multiple races are held during the day, with separate events for men and women.

In the 2013 competition, a foam replica replaced the cheese for safety reasons.[2] The winners were given prizes of actual cheese.


A race on 27 May 2013

This ceremony originally took place each Whit Monday, but was later moved to the Spring Bank Holiday. The first written evidence of cheese rolling is found in a message written to the Gloucester town crier in 1826;[6] even then it was apparent that the event was an old tradition, and it is believed to be at least six hundred years old.[7][8]

Two possible origins have been proposed for the ceremony. First, it may have evolved from a requirement for maintaining grazing rights on the common.[7][9] Second, there may be pagan origins for the custom of rolling objects down the hill. It is thought that bundles of burning brushwood were rolled down the hill to represent the birth of the New Year after winter. Connected with this belief is the traditional scattering of buns, biscuits and sweets at the top of the hill by the Master of Ceremonies.[10] This is said to be a fertility rite to encourage the fruits of harvest.[9]

In 1982, a team of students from the University of Bristol filmed the 31 May event[11] using film cameras, with one camera was set on slow motion.[12]

In 1993, fifteen people were injured, four seriously, chasing cheeses down the hill with its one-in-three gradient.[9]

In 2009, it was cancelled due to concerns over health and safety. In 2010, a group of journalists and local residents threw a smaller version, in keeping with tradition, to keep grazing rights. In 2011, Candis Phillips and Sara Stevens bought and dressed four cheeses, and so the revival of this famous old tradition continued.

"No-one's going to stop us doing it. They say it's not official, but we are all Brockworth people, and we're running cheese today, so it is official. We strongly believe in it."

— Former winner Helen Thorpe in May 2011.[13]

The 2011 event took place without management, due to safety concerns over the number of people visiting the event,[14] resulting in the 'Save the Cheese Roll' campaign.[15] Despite the cancellation and lack of paramedics, around 500 people showed up in 2011 to hold some spontaneous races; no major injuries were reported.

The event is traditional and takes its name from the steep hill on which it occurs. Until recent years, it was managed in a quasi-official manner by nominated locals, but since 2010 the event has taken place spontaneously without any management.[13]

The cheese-rolling event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.[16] The cheese-rolling event returned on Sunday 5 June 2022,[17] ending a two-year absence.[18] The spring bank holiday was moved to June 2, followed by an additional bank holiday, to create a four-day jubilee weekend in celebration of Elizabeth II's 70 years of reign.[19]


Undated photo of the master of ceremonies holding the cheese

The cheese currently used in the event is 7–9-pound (3–4-kilogram) Double Gloucester, a hard cheese traditionally made in a circular shape.[20] Each is protected for the rolling by a wooden casing round the side, and is decorated with ribbons at the start of the race. Formerly, three cheeses were presented by parishioners, and the cheeses were usually rolled by them. A collection is usually made now to purchase them, as well as sweets, and also to provide prize money.[9]

Since 1988, the cheese has been supplied by local cheesemaker Diana Smart and her son Rod, from their Churcham farm, although Diana Smart has now retired.[5][21][22] In May 2013, a police inspector warned the 86-year-old Smart that she could be held responsible for injuries.[5] Chief Superintendent Nigel Avron of Gloucestershire Constabulary also made these comments: "If you are an organiser in some way or some capacity you could potentially be held liable for something that took place at that event".[5] In recent years, organisers of the event, have felt compelled to use a lightweight foam version for safety reasons. In the second race of 2013, Australian Caleb Stalder managed to catch the fake cheese and claim victory, despite being some way behind the leaders.[23]


Due to the steepness and uneven surface of Cooper's Hill, there are usually a number of injuries each year. A first aid service is provided by the local St John Ambulance (Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud Divisions) at the bottom of the hill.[24] Members of the local rugby club and Young Farmers volunteer their services by acting as 'catchers' for any participants who lose their balance and also are on hand to carry down any casualties requiring first aid who do not reach the bottom. A number of ambulance vehicles attend the event, since there is invariably at least one and often several injuries requiring hospital treatment.[24]

Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling has been summarised by a previous participant as "twenty young men chasing a cheese off a cliff and tumbling 200 yards to the bottom, where they are scraped up by paramedics and packed off to hospital".[25] This quotation was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper of 13 November 2008,[25] in an amusingly titled article 'Return to Edam'.[25] The same article reports one Scottish competitor prodding another in the ribs at the top of the hill, quizzing him if his "travel insurance cover[s] this"?[25] The Australian author, Sam Vincent, "questions his sanity" as he is "crouched on the summit of a diabolical slope", alongside thirteen other competitors whilst they are "awaiting the call to start what is surely the world's most dangerous footrace".[25]

Canadian competitor Delaney Irving won the ladies race in 2023, despite finishing unconscious, and only learning of her victory in the medical enclosure.[26]


Winners of the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling & Wake
Year Race 1 Race 2 Race 3
(Women's race)
Race 4 Race 5
(from 2006)
1985 Steven Gyde Steven Gyde Leticia Burns Costas Logothetis [27][28]
1986 Steven Brain Steven Brain Leticia Burns Steven Gyde [27][28]
1987 Steven Brain Steve Gyde Rebecca Haines Steven Brain [27]
1988 Steve Gyde Steve Gyde Rebecca Haines Steven Brain [27]
1989 Paul Andres Lawrence Farlow Kathleen Underwood Julian Pritchard [28]
1990 Steven Brain Steve Gyde Jacqueline McGinn Steven Brain [27]
1991 Steve Gyde Steve Gyde Christie Sweeney Steve Gyde [27][28]
1992 Terry Sawczuk Stuart Heggs - Rob Preece Star Royles [28]
1993 Rob Preece Rob Preece - Jamie Barnes Andrew Deveson [28]
1994 Rob Preece Andrew Deveson - Star Royles Craig Carter [28]
1995 Steven Brain Jonathan Smith Claire Carter Darren Yates [29][27]
1996 Steven Brain Harry Hancy Marie Andow John Shelton [28]
1997 Steven Brain Steven Brain Tina Rimmer Craig Carter [30][31]
1998 Peter Astman Amelia Hardwick [32] 2 races abandoned for safety, due to 33 injuries the previous year
1999 Steven Brain Steven Brain Helen Thorpe Steven Brain [33]
2000 Steven Brain Steven Brain Kirby Shepherd Craig Brown [34]
2001 [35] Event abandoned due to foot-and-mouth disease; however, a single cheese was still rolled down the hill to maintain tradition.
2002 Simon Fowler Craig Brown Saskia Thomas Jack Williams [36][28] Event took place on Tuesday due to Queen's Jubilee celebrations
2003 [37] Event abandoned due to volunteer safety team being diverted to Algeria following their earthquake; a solitary cheese was rolled by the committee a few days later to retain tradition.
2004   Padam Shreer   Marc Ellis   Dionne Carter Aaron Walden [38][39] Race 1 winner was a British Army soldier from the Gurkhas. Race 2 winner was former New Zealand All Black Marc Ellis.
2005 Jason Crowther Chris Anderson   Dionne Carter Aaron Walden [1][40] Images and references by BBC.
2006 Jason Crowther Craig Fairley   Dionne Carter Chris Anderson Andrew Brewin [41] A fifth race added due to an increase in competitors
2007 Jason Crowther Aaron Walden   Jemima Bullock Alan Morris Chris Anderson [25][42]
2008 Chris Anderson Peter Mackenzie-Shaw Flo Early Craig Fairley Wade Sansom [43]
2009 Chris Anderson Scott Bevan Michelle Kokiri-Gisbon Chris Anderson Josh Geitz [44][45][24]
2010 Chris Anderson Craig Fairley Tanya Silverman Chris Anderson [46]
2011 Chris Anderson Chris Anderson Jo Guest Chris Anderson [47][48][13]
2012 Chris Anderson Chris Anderson Lucy Townsend Craig Fairley [49]
2013   Kenny Rackers   Keleb Stalder Lucy Townsend Ryan Fairley  Tomoaki Tanaka [23][50][2]
2014 Joshua Shepherd Ryan Fairley Lucy Townsend Sheldon Ronald [51][52]
2015 Chris Anderson Ryan Fairley Keavy Morgan Chris Anderson [53]
2016 Chris Anderson Chris Anderson Flo Early Ryan Fairley[54] [55][56]
2017 Chris Anderson Chris Anderson Keavy Morgan Chris Anderson Roni Aloe [57]
2018 Chris Anderson Christopher Parperis Flo Early Chris Anderson [58][59][60][57] Chris Anderson sets a new all-time record of 22 race wins
2019 Max McDougall[61] Ryan Fairley Flo Early   Mark Kitt Trent Unsworth [62] Flo Early sets ladies all-time record of 4 wins
2020 2020 Event Cancelled (COVID-19 pandemic) Cheese still rolled to maintain tradition. [18]
2021 2021 Event Cancelled (COVID-19 pandemic) restrictions. [63]
2022 Chris Anderson Jamie Evans   Abby Lampe   Robbe Gabriels (joint winner)   Amr El Shourbagy (joint winner) [3][64] Chris Anderson new all-time record 23 race wins
2023   Matt Crolla   Cooper Cummings   Delaney Irving   Ryoya Minami - [26][65]

Multiple winnersEdit

Men's raceEdit

  • Chris Anderson 23, Steve Gyde 21, Steven Brain 18, Izzy (Islwyn) John 13, Ryan Fairley 5, Hugh Atkinson 5,[6] Rob Preece 4, Craig Fairley 4, Aaron Walden 3, Jason Crowther 3, Star Royles 2, Andrew Deveson 2, Craig Carter 2, Craig Brown 2.[27]

Ladies' raceEdit

  • Flo Early 4 (2008, 2016, 2018, 2019),
  • Rosemary Cooke 3 (1953, 1955, 1956),
  • Amanda Turner 3 (1981, 1982, 1983),
  • Dionne Carter   3 (2004, 2005, 2006),
  • Lucy Townsend 3 (2012, 2013, 2014),
  • Leticia Burns 2 (1985, 1986),
  • Rebecca Haines 2 (1987, 1988)[27]
  • Keavy Morgan 2 (2015, 2017).

Similar eventsEdit

Cheese-rolling in Chester in 2008

An annual cheese-rolling event has taken place in Chester since about 2002, to promote the town's food and drink festival. The rolling takes place on the flat down an obstacle course.[66]

Cheese-rolling in popular cultureEdit

  • 1948:‘Cheese Rolling on Cooper’s Hill’ is a painting by Charles March Gere, is part of the Museum of Gloucester Collection, and depicts a live action scene of the event.[6]
  • 1982: A short documentary film ‘Cheese Rolling Day May 31, 1982’, written and directed by James Hartzell, and filmed by University of Bristol students and friends, analyses the event happening that day.[12]
  • 1997: The cheese rolling event appears in episode 16 of the novel Mason and Dixon by author Thomas Pynchon. In the scene, Charles Mason himself is nearly struck by a large cheese-wheel rolling down the hill.
  • 2005: A children's computer game from Neopets named "Cheeseroller", involves different varieties of outlandish cheeses, rolled down a 120-metre hill in under 60 seconds, negotiating obstacles on route. Points are awarded for grade of cheese difficulty and speed of descent.[67]
  • 2007: Cheese rolling appeared in the television series ER, Season 14 Episode 8, "Coming Home", where a motley bunch of cheese rolling enthusiasts (with accents of dubious accuracy) have a dispute, allowing Morris to demonstrate the Judgment of Solomon.
  • 2008: Cheese rolling was prominently featured in the first episode of the UK television channel Five series: Rory & Paddy's Great British Adventure, broadcast on 13 August 2008, and was described as "the grandaddy of weird sports" by the titular Rory McGrath and Paddy McGuinness.[43]
  • 2011: Cheese rolling footage from SoGlos was used in Off the Air at the end of the series premiere episode "Animals".
  • 2014: The NPR news quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me featured cheese-rolling in a 'Not My Job' segment with skier Mikaela Shiffrin.[68]
  • 2018: The contest was the subject of the BBC One programme The Great Cheese Chase.[69] The contest was part of the German reality show Joko gegen Klaas - Das Duell um die Welt, where German former football Thorsten Legat was supposed to participate, but at the end refuesd to do so. [70]
  • 2019: Let's Roll is a short film directed by Chris Thomas[71] about a teenage girl Antonia (Amy Bowden) attempting to emulate her brother's successes in the cheese rolling, but having strong opposition from her mother (Zara Ramm). The film was screened at numerous international and BAFTA-qualifying film festivals including Norwich and Edinburgh.[72][73]
  • 2019: Royal Mail issue a collectable stamps edition of UK Weird and Wonderful Customs which includes Bog snorkelling at Llanwrtyd Wells, World Gurning Championship at Egremont, Up Helly Aa in Lerwick, Burning the Clocks in Brighton, 'Obby 'Oss festival in Padstow, Samhain Celtic festival (Halloween) at Derry, Horn Dance at Abbots Bromley and Cheese-Rolling at Cooper's Hill.[74][75]
  • 2020: Netflix released a documentary We are the Champions, covers six bizarre events and competitions from across the world, starting with Cheese-Rolling at Cooper's Hill. The Cheese-Rolling follows Flo Early in her preparations for 2019 and her attempt to win the ladies race for the fourth time, which had never been achieved before.[76]
  • 2020: Channel 4 reality show Gogglebox featured the Netflix documentary named We are the Champions, following Flo Early's historical achievement in the 2019 ladies cheese rolling race.[77]
  • 2023 : The folk bands The Longest Johns and El Pony Pisador wrote a song about the cheese rolling called : Wheels of Glory on their album The Longest Pony.[78]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Cheese Rolling". BBC Gloucestershire. 30 May 2005. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "American flies in to win Gloucestershire cheese rolling contest". The Guardian. 27 May 2013. Archived from the original on 9 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling 2022". 5 June 2022.
  4. ^ Annabel Lammas (11 January 2023). "The world-famous Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling is back for another year in May 2023". SoGlos.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Cheese-maker warned against supplying Gloucester cheese-rolling". BBC News Online. 24 May 2013.
  6. ^ a b c "Cheese Rolling in Gloucester". Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Cheese Rolling: A brief history". BBC News. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  8. ^ Spicer, Dorothy Gladys (1954). Yearbook of English Festivals. New York: H.W. Wilson Company. pp. 238–239.
  9. ^ a b c d Anon. "Cheese Rolling on Coopers Hill, Exhibition", Gloucester City and Folk Museums, Gloucester, 14 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Previous years/". 2007. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007.
  11. ^ Jamie Hartzell, Barbara Wyatt, Frank Passingham, Jonathan Fisher, Mike Dorrell, Michael Hicks, John Adams, Keesian Pender, Pru McEwen, Deborah Perkin, Nick Ferguson, Steve Lewis, Jo Moss, Roger Wilson (19 May 2020) [Recorded 31 May 1982]. Cheese Rolling Day May 31, 1982. Brockworth: Barbara Wyatt.
  12. ^ a b "Cheese Rolling Day May 31, 1982". Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  13. ^ a b c "Coopers Hill cheese-rolling fans hold unofficial race". BBC News online. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  14. ^ "Gloucestershire cheese-rolling off due to safety fears". BBC News. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  15. ^ "Save the Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling campaign launched". 13 January 2011. Archived from the original on 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling 2022 on Coopers Hill in Gloucester". SoGlos. 9 March 2022. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  17. ^ "When is the Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling taking place in 2022?". 2022.
  18. ^ a b "Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling cancelled for 2020 amid Coronavirus fears". 25 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Queen's Platinum Jubilee to include extra bank holiday". BBC News. 12 November 2020.
  20. ^ "Double Gloucester". British Cheese Board. 2013. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  21. ^ "Smarts: Great Cheese Keeps Rolling - The Cheese Shed".
  22. ^ "More Cheese Rolling facts and information". Archived from the original on 26 May 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  23. ^ a b "Gloucestershire cheese-rolling takes place despite warning". BBC News. 27 May 2013.
  24. ^ a b c "Cheese-chasing champion retires injured after fifth Gloucestershire win". The Telegraph. 25 May 2009.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Quoted in "Return to edam". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 November 2008. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013.
  26. ^ a b Nadeem Badshah (29 May 2023). "Woman wins UK cheese rolling race despite being knocked unconscious".
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Cheese Rolling, Roll of Hounor/". 2007. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jefferies, Jean, ed. (2007). Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing limited. pp. 133–159.
  29. ^ "Race results 1995 events". 1995.
  30. ^ "Race results 1997 events/". 1997. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008.
  31. ^ "Cheese rolling festival takes dangerous turn". CNN. 1997.
  32. ^ "Race results 1998 events/". 1998. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007.
  33. ^ "Race results 1999 events/". 1999. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007.
  34. ^ "Race results 2000 events/". 2000. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007.
  35. ^ "Race results 2001 events/". 2001. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007.
  36. ^ "Fallen cheese-roller (Craig Brown) calls it a day". 2002.
  37. ^ "Earthquake halts cheese rolling races 2003". 2003.
  38. ^ "Falling down hills: Ellis takes the big cheese". The New Zealand Herald. 2 June 2004. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  39. ^ "Chasing the Big Cheese 2004". 2004.
  40. ^ "Chasing the cheese in 2005". 2005.
  41. ^ "Cheese Rollercoaster -The world famous Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling returned with a bang for 2006". 2006.
  42. ^ "Cheese Rolling 2007". 2007.
  43. ^ a b "Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling 2008 review". 2008.
  44. ^ "Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling 2009". 2009.
  45. ^ "Cheese Rolling 2009". 2009.
  46. ^ "Hundreds defy cheese rolling ban". The Telegraph. 2010.
  47. ^ "Coopers Hill cheese-rolling fans hold unofficial race 2011". 2011.
  48. ^ "2011 Chris Anderson, 23, from Brockworth, holds all three cheeses he won today". 2011.
  49. ^ ""I don't even like cheese"". 2012.
  50. ^ "American Wins Annual Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling Race". BBC America. 2013.
  51. ^ "Gloucestershire cheese race winner finds himself in a pickle". 2014.
  52. ^ "The Annual Cheese Rolling Race on Coopers Hill in Gloucestershire". International Business Times. 27 May 2014.
  53. ^ "Thousands watch Gloucestershire cheese rolling races". 2015.
  54. ^ "Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling 2016 - the tumbles". YouTube. 2016. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021.
  55. ^ "Cheese-Rolling results and pictures 2016/". 2016. Archived from the original on 10 July 2018.
  56. ^ "Champion chaser who hates cheese wins for the 17th time". Evening standard. 2016.
  57. ^ a b "Gloucester cheese-rolling veteran breaks all-time record". BBC News. 2018.
  58. ^ "Gloucestershire cheese race winner is the all-time grate". 2018.
  59. ^ "Cheese Rolling 2018 - all the pictures from Cooper's Hill". 2018.
  60. ^ "Cheese Rolling, Coopers Hill 2018 - all the pictures Photo 60 of 61". 2018.
  61. ^ Gibbon, Tom; Richards, Madelaine (27 May 2019). "Cheese rolling 2019 as it happened from Cooper's Hill". GloucestershireLive.
  62. ^ "Cheese rolling 2019 LIVE! Latest action from Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire". 2019.
  63. ^ "Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake cancelled for 2021". 20 April 2021.
  64. ^ "Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling 2022: North Carolina student wins Women's Race". 5 June 2022.
  65. ^ William Morgan (30 May 2023). "Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling 2023 recap updates, results, pictures and video".
  66. ^ "Cheese rolling in Chester". BBC Liverpool. 15 March 2006.
  67. ^ "Cheeseroller". Neopets. 2005.
  68. ^ "Not My Job: skier Mikaela Shiffrin gets quizzed on downhill cheese races". 11 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  69. ^ "The Great Cheese Chase - BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  70. ^ ((cite web|url=
  71. ^ Thomas, Chris (8 May 2020). LET'S ROLL: Cheese Rolling Short Film (Comedy). Brockworth.
  72. ^ "Let's Roll". Norwich Film Festival. 2019.
  73. ^ "Let's Roll". Edinburgh International Film Festival. 2019.
  74. ^ "Stamps: Cheese rolling, gurning and bog snorkelling on new UK stamps". Newsround. BBC. 9 July 2019.
  75. ^ "Cheese Rolling at Cooper's Hill will feature on these great new stamps". 10 July 2019.
  76. ^ "Netflix Series - We Are the Champions". 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  77. ^ "Gogglebox viewers left flabbergasted over cast's major cheese blunder". 28 November 2020.
  78. ^ Wheels of Glory | The Longest Pony. The Longest Johns. 21 March 2023. Retrieved 22 March 2023.

External linksEdit