Gurning for glory at Egremont Crab Fair

Queen Elizabeth II watches Tommy Mattinson, the world Gurning champion Credit: Arthur Edwards/PA Archive/PA Images

One of the world's oldest fairs gets underway today, and it's got a global reputation because of its gurning competition.

Egremont Crab Fair started in 1267, and combines traditional events like gurning, where competitors pull unusual faces, with modern attractions.

We've dug out some photos of the fair's illustrious gurning past:

1964 - Taffy Thomas competing in the Egremont Crab Fair Gurning World Championship. Credit: PA/S&G Barratts/EMPICS Archive
1965 - Ike Simpson practising for the Egremont Crab Fair Gurning World Championship. Credit: PA/PA Archive/PA Images
1999 - World Gurning Champion Peter Jackman Credit: Phil Noble/PA Archive/PA Images
1999 - World Gurning Champion Peter Jackman Credit: Phil Noble/PA Archive/PA Images

Gurning is thought to date back to the days the village idiot was invited to pull funny faces in exchange for a few pints of beer.

Contestants put on a horse collar and compete to pull the most grotesque face.

In 2008, the competition appeared to get a new fan, when the Queen visited Whitehaven:

Queen Elizabeth II watches Tommy Mattinson, the world Gurning champion Credit: Arthur Edwards/PA Archive/PA Images