In the mills of Lancashire sowing fabric together with a thread from each new bale of cotton from North America was very important. In this way, the owners could determine how strong the cotton was and so they employed professional sewers for this reason. The sewers were issued with a new thimble every six months to protect their fingers from the needles. However, if the sewer lost their thimble they had to pay for a new one, so there was a tendency to share the thimbles. In order to save time the thimbles were thrown from sewer to sewer. Some throws were more accurate than others, which led to thimble throwing contests on the annual works day out to Blackpool. This was first recorded in 1862 and the Thimble Throwing contest has taken place every year since then on July 5th.
Lines are drawn on the ground and the contestants have to try and land their thimbles in this area. Containers of varying sizes such as a bucket, a milk bottle, and a baked beans can (empty) are also placed in the area and the contestant wins extra points for landing their thimble in one of these receptacles – more points are awarded the narrower the receptacle becomes, with the Milk Bottle being the highest points scorer. There are five rounds of thimble throwing and points are accumulated over all five rounds.
Extract from 40 Humourous British Traditions