Ropley Pram Race
The “Original” Pram Race, as it is known locally, came about in 1965 as the result of a light-hearted suggestion after a convivial evening at the Anchor Inn. The Ropley Flower Show had recently closed and a replacement village event was discussed. The four original ‘contestants’ were Dick Newman, Les and Bob Etherington, and Ted Fordred, the Anchor landlord. It blossomed into an annual event with unbroken continuity since that first year, apart from a break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is organised by a small committee to take place every Spring Bank Holiday.
Ropley claim it to be the original pram race from which others have successfully spawned, but none have had the staying power of Ropley’s. In its early days the Race was sponsored by Courage Brewery who also presented a fine Winner’s Cup which is still competed for today.
A racing pram consists of a pram and 2 persons. Race participants have to push their ‘pram’ around course of just over 2 miles, with one of them sitting in the pram at all times (they are allowed to change positions at any time) while the other pushes… in past years the teams also had to drink a half pint of shandy each at 2 pub stops (or squash for those of younger years).
The race course originally began at the Recreation Ground with drinks stops at the Star Inn and the Chequers Inn with the finish line at the Anchor Inn; but over the years, as the pubs declined and closed, the decision was taken amend the course to start and finish at the Recreation Ground. In 2013 government regulations on highway safety precluded the use of the original route from the Recreation Ground, up Vicarage Lane – down Dunsells Lane and Gascoigne Lane to the A31, along the grass verge – up Berry Hill and back along Vicarage Lane to the Rec. The route was subsequently switched and today the contestants now run from the Recreation Ground, west along Vicarage Lane – left down Hook Lane, to the junction with the Petersfield Road then sharp left east along Petersfield Road to South Street and back along Hammonds Lane to Vicarage Lane and the Rec. As the years have progressed, the number of participants has grown (the current record is 54 prams), with different classes being added and competed for, with judging for the “Best Decorated Pram” being hotly contested before the Race starts sharp at 11.00 hours. Adding greatly to the fun and entertainment of the Annual Pram Race a group of villagers calling themselves the ‘Newts’ have stretched the entry rules and joined the race with wheeled creations of highly inventive construction on surprise themes every year from 2000 to date. For some years now the “Newts” haven’t taken part in the Fancy dress competition as they were definitely stretching competition rules and they felt this wasn’t fair, so now there is a special cup that they were awarded by the pram race committee for their engineering feats and appreciation of all things silly! Now they themselves present this cup to a entrant who has also pushed the boundaries of engineering with their pram.
The winning Pram usually crosses the finishing line in 12 to 13 minutes, and when all the other Prams are safely back, a mini fete ensues for a couple of hours, culminating in prize-giving to all the winners.
Along with this post you will see a small selection of some of the most interesting pram race photos that have been donated to the archive.
If you would like to see a bigger selection of some of the most interesting donated photos click the link here :- https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dmwkqqsee4p5ybb/AACkHap8SkjY9AriTVkRa6xya?dl=0