Gearing up for the annual Knaresborough Tug of War

Two Knaresborough pubs are gearing up for the annual tug of war on the banks of the River Nidd.

The annual tradition, which takes place on Boxing Day, is now in its 45th year.

The hotly contested event sees teams from pubs on opposite sides of the River Nidd do battle on the banks of the river.

Two teams of eight, one female, one male from The Half Moon Free House and The Mother Shipton Inn (Dropping Well Inn) take part in the event which attracts crowds of thousands.

Owner of the Half Moon Free House, Max Harrison, said: “It’s a really good excuse for people to get out of the house, get a bit of fresh air on boxing day and come and have a drink with us.

“The place is busy, it’s a great atmosphere, we set up a bar outside because we just cannot fit everyone who comes down inside.”

Mr Harrison and his wife Katie took over the pub in October 2011 and did not know about the annual tradition.

“We soon found out about the tug of war,” he said.

“We closed the pub for refurbishment in the first year of owning it, but we still made sure to take part and had a bar set up outside.”

The winner is decided on the basis of the best in three and on more than one occasion in the event’s 45-year history, competitors have ended up having a Boxing Day dip in the River Nidd.

“It has been known that people have ended up in the river,” said Mr Harrison.

“It was first started in 1968 and one of the men who came up with the idea still lives in Knaresborough.

“His name is Bill Jones and he usually comes down for the event.”

Mr Harrison insisted the rivalry between the two pubs was a friendly one, but that hasn’t stopped him from wanting to win.

“I took part in 2011 but I am not going to be in it this year. The team is all local people, we have tried to recruit big people who will be strong,” he said.

The tug of war competition kicks off at midday on Boxing Day and pictures from the event will appear in the Knaresborough Post on January 2.

There will be a charity collection for Saint Michael’s Hospice at the event which will see last year’s winner, the Dropping Well pub (now Mother Shipton Inn) try to remain victorious.

Knaresborough hosts a variety of events across the year including the now famous Bed Race and the duck race.

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