VILLAGERS in Pirbright must have had a grand time on the day they 
celebrated Queen Victoria’s Diamond 

A sports day was held on Wednesday 30 June 1897. A surviving four-page programme provides a fascinating glimpse into the day’s events, which were “given”, and presumably funded, by Lord and Lady Pirbright.

The fun started at 3pm. Although the programme does not say, it must have taken place on the green.

Names given include the chairman and secretary of sports, Alfred Johnson; and the clerk of the course, Mr AW Hill.

Military bands of the 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) 
Regiment and the Royal Dublin 
Fusiliers provided the music.

There were 24 sports, with fairly 
generous cash prizes and other 
sought-after rewards.

The sports included the hurdle race, which was 200 yards over six flights. First prize was seven shillings.

Another sport was throwing a cricket ball. First prize was a sweater.

Children aged nine to 12 competed in the 30 yards cup of water race, whose first prize was two shillings and sixpence.

There were two half-mile races, one for Pirbright residents and the other for Bisley villagers. The prizes were the same, with the winners each receiving a nickel silver tea pot.

For men over the age of 60, there was the old men’s race, whose first prize was seven shillings and sixpence.

A 10-man-per-side tug of war pitted Pirbright against Bisley, and the prize for the winners was 13 shillings.

A mile race was open to soldiers 
stationed at Bisley Camp. First prize was 15 shillings.

Although three prizes were given in most of the sports, six were up for grabs in the obstacle race.

From first to sixth, these were a 
clock, a watch chain, a set of carvers, a coffee pot, an umbrella and a walking stick.

For climbing the greasy pole, which took place between 3pm and 7pm, the the winner received 10 shillings.

Strict rules were enforced in the sports.

The programme stated, for example: “Sack race: the competitors’ arms will be tied inside the sack, and the 
competitors will be laid down on the ground before starting, and any person failing to finish in the condition he starts will be disqualified.

“Obstacle race: the first obstacle will be a tarpaulin stretched upon the ground – this they must crawl under; second, climb up a rope fixed to a bar, get over the top and down a rope at the other side; third, pass through sacks; fourth, drink half pint of beer or lemonade and eat a biscuit – this must be done standing at the table; fifth, pass through swinging tubs; sixth, pass under and over three bars 12 inches off the ground.”

Another rule stated that nobody was to take more than two first prizes, or four prizes in all.

The sports day was rounded off with a grand display of Brock & Co’s fireworks.

My thanks go to Patsy Burch (née Rice) for help with this article.

The programme was found some years ago in a house named Burrow Hill at School Lane, Pirbright.

The house had once belonged to Miss Eva Nethercliff. When she died, it passed into the ownership of the Rice family.

Also found in the house were vintage photos of St Michael and All Angels Church, Pirbright. One appears to show workmen constructing the lychgate.

The pictures will feature in Peeps in due course.

IF you have memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area and its people which you would like to contribute to this page, call David Rose on 01483 838960, or write to the News & Mail.