1975 was when Rye went silly… and the first silly race in 1975 was a pram race around the pubs of Rye. According to the rules, the teams had to have a pit stop at every pub and club in Rye, and drink a pint or half pint of beer per team at each pub.
At the fourteen pit stops, there was a marshal to mark a sheet with their signature when a team had consumed a drink. There was no set route around the pubs, and each team chose in what order they visited the pubs – but the pram race started and finished outside the Cinque Ports Hotel, and the race started at 7pm on a Saturday .
Most of the teams wore some kind of fancy dress. Two persons per team, one pushing and one sitting in the pram, and most teams were all male, though some were mixed, and there were two or three ladies teams.
The winners of the first silly race were the Peace and Plenty pub from Playden, and the original idea came from a group of locals who drank in the George, Union and Standard, plus a few more local pubs – and they called themselves the Rye Racers.
Prams not made to race over cobbles
There must had been over twenty teams entered in the first silly one. A few never made it to the finish, as the prams were not made to race over cobbles, or up and down steps (to the Ypres), and a few prams were dumped in the river at the Strand Quay after the race.
The money Rye Racers raised was used to organise a Christmas party for the old age pensioners.
The silly races run in the 70s and 80s included five legged, sedan chair, hobby horse, wheelbarrow, chain gang, walking the plank, jelly, scarecrow, and sack races. In the next few weeks I will do a report on these races, plus other silly events.
Image Credits: Dennis Leeds-George .