Friday, 29 December 2017

Battle Of The Barrels

It's that time of year again. The normally sane and respectable citizens of Grantchester and the surrounding villages take to the streets, full of Christmas pudding and good cheer, to roll huge wooden barrels in chaotic frenzied races, just for the fun of it.

Even more remarkably hundreds of their otherwise staid and reliable neighbours come to stand around in the cold to watch them. 

Various teams either volunteer or are hastily press-ganged and assembled by the organisers to contest a number of back-and-forth relay races along the Coton Road.

Besides watching the races, I also hoped to see many of my old friends from the village. That was how, having arrived early to get the perfect spot for photography, I wandered away just as the races began, to chat to various people.

As a result most of the photos shown here were shot over the heads of other onlookers. Long arms and a tilting viewfinder screen come in useful sometimes.

It was great to see so many young people competing this year. Things have changed since the old days when the race was the exclusive preserve of men who drank in the four village pubs.

Lots of fun was had by competitors and spectators, and money was collected for charities as well.

It's not usual to see the barrels airborne as the one in the photo above seems to be. Youth and enthusiasm can do strange things to the law of gravity.

After three-quarters of an hour or so of mayhem the races came to an end and my brother Les and I headed for The Crown at Eaton Socon for a roast dinner.

A few years ago I concentrated on the races long enough to shoot a video which, if you haven't seen it before, can be viewed here:

Take care.


  1. I have read of this butnever seen photographs. The one of the airborne barrel is fantastic John.

  2. I bet that was fun to watch...I thought sure you were going to tell that someone was inside the barrels.

    When we were kids we had one or two of the 50 gallon metal barrels, and we would get inside while a sibling held it and then yell when ready and they would let us roll down the GENTLE least that is all I ever did. Not sure what my brothers might have done when they were younger.

  3. Roll out the barrel!! We'll have a barrel of fun!!

    Looks painful to me. Ouch!

  4. Looks like fun. I bet you can lose control very fast. I never heard of this and watched the video. A fun event and a great way to collect donations for a charity.

  5. "...otherwise staid and reliable neighbours"

    You can say that all you want, but these people look like they are always unhinged maniacs. I like them!


  6. Great fun. A community event which brings out a lot of people!

  7. The video was great! How many times do they go back and forth? Looks like fun anyway!

  8. Looks like great fun and an active, outdoor break in the festivities. Plenty of christmas pudding needed to have the strength to roll those barrels:)

  9. It seems to be a well-attended event! It's always good to have outdoor things going on in the winter to get everyone outside in the fresh air for a little fun.

  10. Looks like a barrel traffic jam! Happy 2018 John.

  11. What a great event! Fun and fresh air :)


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