Ripon Races 100 years ago – a remarkable day for remembrance
This coming weekend, on 23rd April, the crowds at Ripon St George’s Day Race Meeting will see a remarkable piece of film projected on to the giant race screen. The film was shot on St George’s weekend 1916 – 100 years ago – and today’s racing crowds will stand in exactly the same spot where troops stationed in Ripon, along with people from Ripon, came together for a sports day.
It was a joyous occasion – with competitions, races, a cross country run, horse trails, highland dancing ( many Highland regiments were stationed in Ripon at the time ) and a chance to put to one side the darkening clouds of the First World War for just one day. But life would soon change, and those very regiments would be en route to the Somme just weeks later. Some would survive, but many would lose their lives on the fields of Flanders.
This is truly a ‘once in a century’ opportunity to commemorate those troops who fought and gave their lives, and who were filmed – but not forgotten.
Note: a special press/media compilation film will be available from YFA after 3pm, Tuesday 19th April – see notes to editors.
On a chilly St George’s Day April weekend in 1916, exactly one hundred years ago, troops stationed at Ripon Army Camp came together with the people of Ripon for a huge military tournament on Ripon Racecourse.
It was a joyous occasion – with competitions, races, a cross country run, horse trials, highland dancing ( many of the Highland Regiments were stationed in Ripon at the time ) and a chance to put to one side the darkening clouds of the First World War for just one day.
But life would soon change, and those very regiments would be en route to the Somme just weeks later. Some would survive, but many would lose their lives on the fields of Flanders.
Astonishingly, what has survived is a film made on that day, April 24th 1916, to record the events on Ripon Racecourse. It was made for the manager of Ripon’s first cinema, the Ripon Palladium, and it was a crafty ruse to encourage the hundreds of people on the Racecourse that day to come along to the Palladium the next weekend to see themselves, just for a few fleeting moments, on the silver screen. The faces of Ripon people, the troops, the Racecourse – all captured on film, all peering back at us now, 100 years later.
Though the original film and the images on it were deteriorating, the Yorkshire Film Archive have undertaken the preservation work, digitisation and research into the film so that once again we can see the remarkable images captured in ‘Scenes at the Ripon Highland Sports’.
The research has revealed some remarkable stories of the people there on the day. Nurse Adam, seen holding the programme for the day, worked in infectious disease hospitals, fell in love with a soldier from the Northumberland Fusiliers, but they never married – he was killed in Gallipoli. Bobby Cruikshank, stationed in Ripon at the time, is seen winning the 100 yard dash – he was wounded at the Somme, went on to fight at Ypres, was captured, escaped and re-joined his regiment once again. He survived the war, emigrated to America, and became a famous professional golfer.
And the story of this film continues, when this coming weekend, on 23rd April, Ripon Racecourse will screen the film as part of their St George’s Day race meeting, and today’s racing crowds will stand in exactly the same spot where those troops stood 100 years ago. It is truly a ‘once in a century’ opportunity to commemorate those troops who fought and gave their lives, and for Ripon – still the home of 21 Engineers Regiment – to remember the impact on their city.
Sue Howard, Director of the Yorkshire Film Archive says: ‘It is a hugely generous gesture by Ripon Racecourse, who will be asking the race-goers of the day to join together for a few moments to watch and remember as a short clip from the film is shown on the giant race screen. We are also very grateful to Film Hub North, who provided funding to support this screening and the production of the DVD. Like everyone else who sees this film, I am constantly reminded as I see the faces of the troops smiling and waving that these were not actors, they were real people – young men, sometimes boys, about to face a future that is so difficult for us to contemplate.’
James Hutchinson, Managing Director and Clerk of the Course says: The Racecourse has been part of the city of Ripon for over 120 years, so this film is also part of our history. We are proud to be able to mark the centenary, and it is truly remarkable to see people 100 years ago, standing in exactly the same spot where our race-goers of today will be standing. We look forward to an exciting day of racing – and also having the opportunity to mark and commemorate a moment from the past that is part of all our histories.’
Fighting Cancer one punch at a time – December 2015
Back in December, our Marketing Executive Erin Boswell took our charity fundraising to another level. After completing 8 weeks intense training she competed in a charity boxing match in order to raise funds for Cancer Research. The events which take part in over 90 cities around the UK, have contributed to raising over £3million for the charity.
Erin did us proud and raised over £1000, smashing her target of £500. The fight was stopped in the first round with a stoppage after 81 seconds. Erin plans to continue her training and compete again soon.
5k Big Fun Run – Fundraising for Myeloma UK – August 2015
The office team have taken part in the Roundhay Park Big Fun Run as part of our fundraising for Myeloma UK. The team are fundraising in support of Head Groundsman Carl Tonks who is currently undergoing treatment for Myeloma, a form of cancer of the blood.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us in our fundraising for Myeloma UK – we have raised an amazing £1,637.72. We are so proud to have been able to help an amazing charity find a cure and we will continue to do whatever we can to help! Erin was pleased to complete the run in 27 minutes 51 seconds, after aiming for a finish under 30 minutes. You can still donate here by visiting our Just Giving Page – www.justgiving.com/RiponRaces/
#RiponAlice – Community pulls together for Alice in Wonderland Celebrations – August 2015
Family racedays are a big part of Ripon’s racing calendar and due to the vagaries of the construction of the 2015 fixture list, their traditional two-day fixture of the Bank Holiday was split; resulting in a new stand-alone fixture on Tuesday 18th August.
Ripon capitalised on this by introducing a new family day in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the much loved classic story, ‘Alice in Wonderland – a story very close to Ripon’s heart. Author Lewis Carroll spent many of his teenage years in Ripon whilst his father worked as a Canon at Ripon Cathedral. The city shares many close links with the story such as the mystical gypsum holes that Ripon is so well known for and carvings of white rabbits and hares in the cathedral to name a few. Historians believe these links were influential to Carroll when writing the creative and mystical story.
Working with local community groups, libraries and schools the racecourse set up local community group called #RiponAlice and started a campaign to involve local resources and help bring the community together to celebrate the anniversary and help educate locals and children of the connections. The day was the primary event in the cities celebrations and played a fantastic role in educating the young racegoers, even teaming up with a local theatre production group. One lucky racegoer even saw their design on the front of the racecard in their ‘design the racecard’ competition and the day was a fantastic example of working with the community in educating the next generation of racegoers at Ripon.