ONE of the nation’s favourite pastimes has long found a legion of fans and competitors in Barrow.

Darts has been such a big part of the community that a competition of its own had to be made.

In 1951 the Evening Mail Darts Championship male’s darts competition began.

It would be 23 years later, in 1974, when the female competition would come into the frame.

The first competitor to win the competition was Jimmy Burnett, who lived in Millom, and the ladies’ inaugural champion was Barbara Farrer, from Dalton.

Many iconic names from the South Cumbrian darting world came to be associated with the competition, with a number of them conquering the competition and lifting the prestigious trophy.

John ‘Ticker’ Hermann, of Barrow, became the winner the men's tournament on no less than six occasions.

Barrow's Dee Bateman triumphing on 11 occasions.

Millom had produced only three further champions since that time.

Stan Fry won in 1957, while Walter Dalkin took the title in 1966.

Ken Giles triumphed in a tough competition which took place in 1975.

The other males’ winners had from across Barrow, Dalton, Ulverston, Whitehaven and Cleator Moor. While other competitions travelled from Frizington, Hensingham, Coniston and Askam.

Amidst all the memorable battles and rivalries that the competition had seen, one of the most famous was the competitive feud between Hermann and Dickie Musson and John Kane.

Both sides were from Whitehaven.

Hermann had six victories, Kane had five and Musson had three.

Dave Pratt pulled off a trio of victories in 1996, 2007 and 2009, and fellow Barrovian Frank Grydziuszko won it in 1997 and 1999.

While Dee Bateman has lifted the women's Harry Murray Ladies Trophy 11 times, Lindal's Shelia Tyson, also formerly Proctor, nearly caught up with nine victories in the 1980s and 1990s, and Dot Bell was victorious four times.

The finals of the competition were known to attract several hundred spectators at the old Public Hall and the Civic Hall in Barrow.

It also took place in the local working men's clubs.