Mother Shipton Inn win Knaresborough Tug of War - days after the pub almost burned down

The Mother Shipton Inn emerged victorious in the 53rd annual Knaresborough Tug of War - just days after the pub was almost destroyed by fire.

Thursday, 26th December 2019, 7:54 pm
The men's Mother Shipton's team taking part in the annual Boxing Day tug of war tradition.
The men's Mother Shipton's team taking part in the annual Boxing Day tug of war tradition.

Both the men and women's teams were too strong for their rivals at The Half Moon pub as hundreds of people came out to watch the traditional event on the banks of the River Nidd.

The two teams have competed in the Boxing Day tug of war since 1966.

There was much merriment at The Mother Shipton on Thursday afternoon as their victory was celebrated - but it could have been a very different story.

The Mother Shipton's team pull to victory.

Landlady Sam Small said she thought "Christmas would be cancelled" when a fire broke out in The Barn Room on Sunday evening.

Landlord Tony Robb had put out some candles in the room earlier in the afternoon, but it is thought someone relit them later on, causing the curtains to catch light.

Luckily, Mother Shipton tug of war team organiser James Walker, as well as Rob Spalding, spotted the fire and went down to the kitchen to raise the alarm.

Staff were able to put out the fire with extinguishers before the fire brigade arrived.

The ladies pull at the annual Boxing Day tug of war tradition over the River Nidd in Knaresborough.

It meant water pumps did not have to be used, saving the original features in the room.

"It could have been so much worse," added Sam, 30.

But there was still serious damage to the room, which needed to be ready for Christmas Eve as the pub was fully booked.

"The community really came together and we managed to get everything ready," said Sam, adding that the rush was akin to a dramatic Changing Rooms-style television makeover.

Free drinks were flowing for those who helped save the pub following Mother Shipton's victory.

Sam, who took over the running of the pub four years ago, said the event was "wonderful" and "good-natured".

"Everyone did wonderfully," said Sam, who had to pull out of the ladies team at the last minute due to a back injury, so made sure her team were well watered in between rounds instead. "We have a great relationship with The Half Moon.

"It is one of those quirky Knaresborough traditions. Everyone was brilliant."