The Cowen Trophy

The Cowen Trophy was awarded to winners of the adult traditional sword dance class at the North of England Musical Tournament from 1921 onwards. It was a silver cup with engraved illustrations from the Lindisfarne Gospels, presented by Jane Cowen in memory of her late husband Joseph Cowen.

Picture of Joseph Cowen

Joseph Cowen (1831-1900), pictured left, was a famous Liberal policitian and publisher, the son of Sir Joseph Cowen, Liberal MP for Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1860s, who was a leading advocate for parliamentary reform and the repeal of the Corn Laws. Joseph Cowen was born in Blaydon Burn, and took over his father's brick factory in Blaydon. He bought the Newcastle Chronicle in 1859 and was himself MP for Newcastle from 1873 to 1886. As a young man he had visited the pit villages in the area to agitate for reforms, including reforms to the labour laws to improve the working conditions for miners, and was later involved in the Co-Operative Movement.

Photo of Cowen Trophy

Westerhope won the Cowen Trophy in its inaugural year, and Winlaton White Star in the following three competitions, after which they were awarded the trophy outright and another trophy presented for later competitions.

Over the years the Trophies were lost, the original not seen publicly since it was awarded to Winlaton in 1925. However, through a chain of events in 1998, Alan Clough of Addison Rapper was able to make contact with the present owner of the original trophy, who had inherited it from her grandfather William ‘Boxer’ Prudhoe, the Winlaton Tommy. The Trophy was shown to the rapper community at DERT 1999 in Newcastle upon Tyne.

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