Knaresborough's famous tug of war pulls big crowds

A member of the Half Moon team with his furry mascot.  (1712262AM3)
A member of the Half Moon team with his furry mascot. (1712262AM3)
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There was a huge turnout to see the 50th Great Knaresborough Tug of War which, to the relief of organisers, passed without incident this year - except for the spectacular contest itself.

The crowds made sure they got down to the Low Bridge early for a noon start on Boxing Day to cheer on the teams from The Half Moon Free House and The Mother Shipton Inn.

The Mother Shipton Inn's winning team. (1712262AM13)

The Mother Shipton Inn's winning team. (1712262AM13)

Organised brilliantly by the two pubs with the support of Knaresborough Town Council after complaints last year by some people that this traditional event had descended into a “farce”, there wasn’t a hitch as the male and female teams stood on opposite banks of the River Nidd Bridge to try and topple their opponents.

The town’s mayor, Coun David Goode refereed the proceedings while town councillor Andrew Willoughby provided the live commentary.

Volunteers in hi vis jackets marshalled the event in weather which favoured the contest.

There was no danger of the sort of flooding which in the past has made the River Nidd a tricky location for the popular tug of war.

As to who claimed the honours, despite the best efforts of the Half Moon teams, it was their rivals across the Low Bridge, Mother Shiptons, who emerged triumphant.

Appropriately, the crowd enjoyed a festive atmosphere with mulled wine and mince pies while he two pubs were full.

As always, the fun also contributed towards the well-being of local charities.

Donations from the crowds were collected on behalf of Harrogate’s Saint Michael’s Hospice and Autism Angels.

The success of the event caps a successful reopening for The Mother Shipton Inn which recently enjoyed a refurbishment.

It was a big day, too, for The Half Moon’s co-owners, the landlord and landlady Max Harrison and Katie Smith, and the rest of the team who are celebrating their fifth Christmas at this free house pub since they bought it and renovated it in 2012.

Max said: “It was a great good turnout and we raised a lot of money for a good cause. The weather was good, which helped.”

The Great Knaresborough Tug of War was first held in 1968. Its most testing time probably came in 2015 when the River Nidd burst its banks, leading to flooding along the Waterside.

Even then the contest still took place - with a one-off relocation to Abbey Road.