Super Soapbox Event Attracts Huge Crowds
On Saturday 29th June, Barrow town centre was full of spectators trying to get the best view possible of the soapbox gravity racers taking on the BAE Systems sponsored soapbox course.
The event, organised by Barrow BID and managed by the Super Soapbox Challenge company saw 19 teams use gravity to set the fastest time down Barrow’s high street.
1988 Olympic Ski-Jumper, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards was the first to take on the course and set a lightning quick time of 36 seconds in his Furness College built soapbox cart called, ‘The Eagle has Landed’. Following four runs each, Team Ørsted were crowned the first Barrow Super Soapbox champions with a super quick time in the final run-off and were followed by Team Oxley in second and Team Furness College who finished third. There were also prizes for the most innovative cart which went to Lancaster & Morecambe College, best jokers which went to the Blackburn based team from CM Oxendale, the most entertaining team went to Little Tony’s Tyres and the best team costumes were selected by John Woodcock MP and his daughters and went to the local team from Gas Water Heating who chose a Super Mario theme.
The initial estimates on spectator numbers are approximated at 13–14,000, which Colin Garnett, Barrow BID Manager was thrilled to see. He told us; “Barrow people came out in huge numbers to support the event and we have also attracted visitors to the town from all over the North West. We’ve heard that trains from the West Coast were full and BID members spoke to individuals and groups from as far as Bolton and Blackburn. After visiting the Micklegate Soapbox Race in York, I knew the event’s potential for attracting crowds, but the popularity of our very first soapbox event has surpassed my expectations.”
Mr Garnett went on to say; “Barrow BID has been set up to regenerate Barrow’s town centre, re-engaging with local people and increasing footfall, to help local town centre businesses survive and thrive. It is the town centre businesses who pay an annual levy to finance the BID so we can put on high-end events and complete projects and initiatives which will provide the levy paying businesses with return on investment.”
Following the event, Barrow BID will be evaluating the economic success and where they can make improvements for next year by conducting a survey with town centre businesses, however, one thing Barrow BID can tell us is that next year the event will be bigger and better and will be on a different date.
Colin Garnett explained; “This year we ran the event on a Saturday, so that all town centre businesses could be part of the event and seize the opportunity to boost sales or market their business to the influx of people the event brought to the town, however, we are under no illusions that an event of this magnitude will be positive for every business. Our board members come from various sectors of the town centre and we understand that some retail businesses and service sector businesses will not benefit from the event. This is the reason we have decided to change the date of the 2020 Barrow Super Soapbox Challenge event to Spring Bank Holiday Sunday on Sunday 24th May 2020.”
“We believe that this date will provide businesses with an opportunity to open on a Sunday if they feel the event is beneficial to them and gain an extra day of trading or they can choose to stay closed and join in the fun. The added bonus of hosting the event on a Bank Holiday weekend is that we can attract visitors to come and stay in the town for longer and make a weekend of it.”
The Super Soapbox Challenge team are committed to helping Barrow BID deliver a high-end event in Barrow’s high street and expect participation to double for the 2020 event. Stuart Gladstone, Event Manager, said; “We had 20 participants entered this year, with one unfortunately dropping out in the final week. From the size of the crowds and the buzz on social media, we would expect entries to reach 40 next year and we will be freezing the entry fees at £200 for corporate teams and £100 for charities, individuals and BID levy paying businesses. We will contact all of this year’s participants and give them first refusal on entering next year before we open up entries to everyone from August.
Next year’s course may include a few little surprises which will make it more fun, so with the new end of May date in 2020 you have 11 months to build the perfect Soapbox and take Ørsted’s crown.”