Silly racing kicked off in 1975 with a pram race round the pubs, but things then just got sillier.
The silly races in 1976 were five legged, 1977 were with a sedan chair, and 1978 involved jelly, and the three races started and finished on Rye Town Salts on a Saturday with a 6pm start.
The rules allowed for half a pint per team at each pit stop and ladies could have a drink of their choice. Though not in the rules, some teams had a runner who went in front to order the drinks and pay for them, but a few landlords did supply the drinks free.
There was a marshal station on the road crossing at the bottom of Rye Hill for teams going to the Globe and the pit stops increased to nineteen – which were the Adelaide (now closed), Bedford, Bell, British Legion (Brewery Yard Club), Cinque Ports, Crown, Ferry Boat (closed), George, Globe, Peacock (now Tuscan, closed), Granary Club (closed), Hope Anchor, Pipes, Queens, Saltings (Rye Lodge), Ship, Standard, Union and Ypres.
The Five legged race
This required four in a team tied at the ankle. Among the teams completing was a brick wall, nurses that were men in drag, and Victor Wear from the Rye Bistro with the sandwich board – who was known to parade round Rye naked, only wearing the sandwich board.
The town crier, Percy Sherwood, judged the fancy dress and started the race. Percy was well known because when he cried in Rye he could be heard in Winchelsea. The winner of the race was a team from the Horse and Cart in Peasmarsh.
The Sedan chair race
This involved three in a team with two carrying the chair and the third person sitting on it. The fancy dress themes included Dracula with a coffin, the M*A*S*H TV programme with a tent, Romans with a chariot, Custer’s last stand, Indians with a wigwam, chefs and the lifeboat crew. This race tested the stamina of the teams carrying the combined weight of the chair and person sitting on it around Rye. And for the second year running the Horse and Cart were the winning team.
The Jelly race
This was a bit of a disaster as the jelly did not set, so it was a cardboard cup full of liquid.
Teams of two tied at the wrist carrying a plank with nineteen jellies on it, and for every missing jelly at the finish they deducted one minute off their race time.
Some dressed as the Flower Pot Men, and Batman and Robin, but babies were a popular fancy dress theme with three team teams in nappies. The British Legion won the race by keeping all their jellies in cardboard cups on the plank and finishing in a fast time.
Image Credits: Dennis Leeds George , Dennis Leeds-George .