The Battle of the Brook
Not something out of the 17th century, but a modern 20th century ‘war’ between the villagers who live on the north side and the villagers who live on the south side of the River Ise, which runs though the centre of the village.
It was on Easter Monday in April 1957 that the first Battle took place. The 20-strong teams met at the old 12th century bridge at 11am. Mr C Campling, the Parish Clerk, in true town crier’s costume, proclaimed the Charter, the Revd G Brodie gave an address and the teams were then taken on tractor-drawn trailers to the ‘battle ground’ near the new bridge. A barrel was strapped on to a rope laid across the temporary bridge, which held the officials, across the Brook. There were to be three pulls, each pull proceeding until one side had been completely drawn through the water. The referee was Mr B Dart, Chairman of the Parish Council.
(As usual, click on each image to enlarge)
At approximately 12noon, the winning team was to place the Geddington Anvil – donated by Urban Chapman, village blacksmith for more than half a century – on their side of the old bridge. The same evening, there was a public dance in the Village Hall (licensed bar until 12.30am and tickets 3/6d) during which the Losing Team (the North side for all their swagger) presented the Winning Team with a barrel of beer.
To watch the video of the 1959 Battle in black & white, click on ⇒.
The event drew enormous crowds and a collection resulted in the Boy’s Club, the Darby & Joan Club and the Schoolchildren’s Fund, benefitting to the tune of £23 each.
So successful was the Battle, drawing crowds from far and wide, that it was repeated each Easter Monday until 1963, when it sadly became a victim of its own success. Rowdyism in the village and pubs afterwards reached such a peak – it was said that a policeman’s ear was bitten off – that the 1963 event was the last. However, in those seven years, some £600 had been collected and divided amongst various village organisation and many people have very happy, though somewhat wet, memories.
1957 Battle of the Brook Team
North South ***
Abrahams, B Harker, M J Baker, M Johnson, B
Alderman, P Harden, C Biddle, C Kilsby. R
Bates, W Miller, J Carver, N Lane, J
Buckby, L Payne, S Colvin, J Pinfold, R
Bufton, J Robinson, G Cook, B Redhead, C
Burrows, J Sawford, J Cook, R Rowles, M
Chamberlain, P Skipper, K Cuthell, J Slough, R
Curtis, M Slough, B Fromm, A Stafford, B
Davis, M Slough, T Gunstone, P Tebbut, A
Drage, T Smith, J Harker, J Tracey, I
Team Manager: J Curtis Team Manager: J Sharpe