Hundreds of spectators turn out for annual tug of war match over the River Nidd at Knaresborough

Hundreds of spectators turned up on Boxing Day for one of most unusual annual traditions held anywhere in the Harrogate district or, perhaps, anywhere else.
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Since it was first launched by a group of friends in 1968 as a bit of fun, the tug of war competition between the Half Moon Inn and Mother Shipton Inn – two pubs facing each other across the Nidd pulling on a rope from opposite banks – has seen eight-strong teams of men and women battle it out by the riverside at the Low Bridge in Knaresborough.

Organised with the help of Knaresborough Lions, yesterday, Tuesday, saw Mother Shipton Inn win both the men’s and women’s event under the best-of-three rule in front of a huge crowd.

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As well as bragging rights, this time-honoured fixture which mixes merriment with muscle also raises money for charity.

Since it was first launched by a group of friends in 1968, the Boxing Day tug of war competition between the Half Moon Inn and Mother Shipton Inn has seen eight-strong teams of men and women battle it out by the riverside at the Low Bridge in Knaresborough. (Picture James Hardisty)Since it was first launched by a group of friends in 1968, the Boxing Day tug of war competition between the Half Moon Inn and Mother Shipton Inn has seen eight-strong teams of men and women battle it out by the riverside at the Low Bridge in Knaresborough. (Picture James Hardisty)
Since it was first launched by a group of friends in 1968, the Boxing Day tug of war competition between the Half Moon Inn and Mother Shipton Inn has seen eight-strong teams of men and women battle it out by the riverside at the Low Bridge in Knaresborough. (Picture James Hardisty)

This year’s donation went to Frank’s Fund, a charity set up by the Ashton family in 2019 following the death of their much-loved and dearly missed 14-year-old son, Frank, to Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

Adding to the spectacle of this free event held in unusually mild weather was the presence of Knaresborough Town Crier Mark Hunter.

Meanwhile, refreshments, including Pulling Power, a Yorkshire Pale Ale, were poured by independent Harrogate craft brewery Rooster’s from a pop-up bar outside the Half Moon.

The Half Moon men’s team included a member of staff from Rooster’s while the Mother Shipton women’s team included members of Harrogate Railway FC.

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