Hundreds attend Grantchester annual barrel race

PUBLISHED: 15:53 27 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:04 28 December 2016

Pictures: GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Pictures: GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY

GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY.

Hundreds of people made their way to Grantchester on Boxing Day to cheer on the teams in the village’s annual barrel race.

Around 1,500 spectators lined the streets for the festive event as teams did battle in a frantic relay.

The race, which involves rolling a whisky barrel along a 100-yard course in small teams, was started in the 1960s and revived 13 years ago with great success.

Since its return the event has been organised by South Cambridgeshire district councillor Francis Burkitt.

“We were at capacity this year and it was really nice weather – it never rains for us,” he said.

“It’s a brilliant thing for the village and perfect for Boxing Day because it gives people the chance to get out and get some fresh air.”

In total, there were five races including a men’s, ladies’ and mixed event, with four teams of four doing battle up and down Coton Road representing the village’s four pubs, the Rupert Brooke, the Blue Ball, the Green Man and the Red Lion.

These three races were followed by two ‘county championship’ races, where travelling teams from the villages of Barton, Newnham, Impington and Madingley took on the locals, alongside a foursome from Leeds, standing in for Coton.

Many of the teams competed in fancy dress as they worked off the excesses of their Christmas dinner the previous day.

Teams compete to roll the empty barrels as quickly as possible without injuring the crowds of spectators, who screamed encouragement from behind a wall of straw bales.

“We had lots of people walk out from Cambridge across the meadows, and it was great to see how many people came out for the morning with their families,” added Cllr Burkitt.

Money raised at the event through a bucket collection will be donated to The High Sheriff’s charity in recognition that local farmer Richard Pemberton will be Her Majesty’s High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire in 2017/18.

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