A BIZARRE spectacle took place in Pirbright back in the 1950s – a tug-of-war contest through the village pond.

This week’s Peeps into the Past looks back on a feature of the village’s annual sports day and flower show arranged by the sports club from The Cricketers Inn, opposite the green.

Based on dates from local newspaper reports, the event took place each August.

A barrel of beer floated in the centre of the pond. It was the aim of the teams to pull their opponents through the water and mud of the pond until one reached the barrel, which became the prize of the losers.

It was reported that in 1955, men from The Cricketers lost to a team from the “Guards Independent Parachute Company, stationed at Pirbright Camp”.

A report on the 1956 event said: “In contrast to last year’s rainy day, Saturday was fine and hot. This time the village tug-of-war team was victorious, pulling a team from the Guards Parachute Regiment from Pirbright Camp into the pond.

“Pulling for the village team were Messrs WH Boycott, A Keywood, T Kinsella, R Crouch, T Hartney, R Challen, J McConnachie and W Fry.”

The day was opened by Miss Susan Cooper, roller queen of the Camberley and Aldershot Skating Club.

As an added attraction, the skating club club organised “10-mile [roller-skating] road races for men and women respectively, and short ones for the children”.

The starting point for the adult races was the Goldsworth Arms pub in Goldsworth Road, Woking. The competitors skated a circuit around the town before racing to the green at Pirbright.

The women’s race was won by Bobbie Bradshaw. Victorious in the men’s race was Pip Baker.

The 1958 tug of war saw the village team beaten by a team from The Horse Guards, stationed at Stoney Castle Camp, near Pirbright. A report said the winners “sent a hefty team, which carried too much weight for the local men”.

The Horse Guards were probably cavalry soldiers from London, who were on an annual summer camp at Stoney Castle.

There was also a pillow fight contest over the pond. The winner was 6ft 10in Trooper P Buckingham. He sent his opponents flying “with his advantage of height and reach”.

The runner-up was Trooper N Ewers, who, it was reported, was “a mere 6ft 4in”.

A new competition was introduced that year – a race across the pond. A ball was thrown in with the winner being the first to reach it.

The villagers’ sole success of the afternoon came in this event, Mr G Stewart being the first of 20 competitors to get his hands on the ball.

If you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call David Rose on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: [email protected]