A unique County Durham sport that attracted crowds of thousands, before declining after the final venue in the region closed in 2019, has been remembered.

Independent greyhound racing, or ‘flapping’, was a key part of working-class County Durham life from the 1930s until 2019.

Flapping tracks were outside the jurisdiction of greyhound racing’s governing bodies and operated at numerous locations in County Durham, such as Stanley, as well as other North East areas, like South Shields, Hartlepool and Stockton. 

They would welcome huge crowds of locals, as well as people from Scotland and South Yorkshire, but the sport declined until the final County Durham flapping track of Wheatley Hill closed in 2019.

The Northern Echo: L-R Bridget Hamilton, Dr Louise Powell and Louise’s now-retired greyhound Right Paddy outside Wheatley Hill Heritage CentreL-R Bridget Hamilton, Dr Louise Powell and Louise’s now-retired greyhound Right Paddy outside Wheatley Hill Heritage Centre (Image: DOGPEOPLE)

As part of remembering the sport, people are now being asked to reminisce about the sport of flapping as part of a new podcast.

The DOGPEOPLE podcast tells the history of flapping in the words of the people who went to the tracks.

The series is written and narrated by award-winning Middlesbrough writer Dr Louise Powell, who is a lifelong member of the flapping community and now holds a Professional Greyhound Trainer’s Licence.

Louise’s script is interwoven with oral histories and off-record interviews with over eighty people who went flapping, all of which are threaded together by esteemed audio editor Bridget Hamilton.

There are eight 20-minute episodes in the podcast series, which traces the origins of flapping through to its heyday and decline, then the shift to licensed greyhound racing at Sunderland and Pelaw Grange.

The Northern Echo: The sport of flappingThe sport of flapping (Image: Floyd Amphlett / Greyhound Star)

Six episodes have already been released on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, with the remaining two episodes going out on Saturday, June 1 and Saturday, June 8 respectively.

The DOGPEOPLE podcast is part of a broader project of the same name, which is funded by an Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grant and commissioned by No More Nowt’s ‘Untold Stories’ strand.

The project also features a Community Exhibition of Flapping at Wheatley Hill Heritage Centre, which runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays until June 13, as well as a QR Code Story Trail in Wheatley Hill.

There is also a blog which details community events and features Guest Articles from multiple Dogpeople.

Most read

Don't miss out on the latest news and stories. Subscribe to the Northern Echo, for just £3 for 3 months click here.

Dr Louise Powell said, “Having grown up going flapping, I miss the great sense of community and the close bond with greyhounds which were central to the sport.

"I’ve devoted a lot of my professional life to writing about flapping, including a BBC Radio 4 Extra audio drama and a novel which will shortly be sent out to publishers by my literary agent after winning the Sid Chaplin Northern Writers’ Award 2023.

"I love telling stories about flapping, but I also wanted to give other people in my community the chance to tell their stories – and what stories they are. 

"There are tales of a track which operated at the back of a pub, a beloved dog who was nursed from ill health to become a record-breaking local celebrity, and people who made a living out of flapping.

"DOGPEOPLE is a podcast for anyone with an interest in sport, local history and storytelling.”