Pram Racing

Oh bay what a race | Pram Racing

by Ron Bolton

Over the past months I have been telling you about many different types of racing from the serious ones to the downright crazy ones such as lawn mower racing, bed racing and even wheelie bin racing.

The other day I came across another type of racing when I saw a video on You Tube under the caption of ‘Pram Race raises money for local charity.’

Well, I just had to find out more about this particular unusual type of event. It would appear that since the 1950s, several towns and villages throughout England have been organising pram races in conjunction with various local fêtes or gala weekends to raise money for their own particular charity.

Of course, prams have always been part of our lives especially when we had babies to push around in them. I remember our first pram which was of the ‘high coach build’ design and then, as the children grew older, it was necessary to buy a collapsible type of pram so that we could put it into the boot of our car when we took our family to the seaside or any long distance.

It’s interesting to look at the huge change in pram design over the years where today’s prams seem to have only three wheels whereas the prams of my early days always had four wheels for stability. However, the prams used for racing more often than not bear little resemblance to today’s baby carriers.

The rules are fairly simple and very similar to most other types of racing. For example, they state the number of contestants required for each team, define the categories for competitors and most importantly state that only pushing or pulling the pram is allowed and no other means of propelling them is permitted.

The organisers usually select a theme for the competition and the entrants dress themselves and decorate the pram accordingly.

Quite often, before the start of the racing, there is a parade of all the prams and the contestants around the particular town or village where the races are being held. In Hastings, for example, they even have prizes for the best shop window decoration in the theme of the race. There are some wonderful designs on the prams showing very imaginative thinking by the contestants with some prams even made to look like boats, aeroplanes, castles and many other fabulous designs and together with the costumes of the contestants it makes for a very colourful and vibrant show. The number of people in the team can vary from two to four, each taking turns to push or pull the pram with one member of the team actually sitting in the pram. They have to go around a particular
course which is often set out in the local park or village green just on a nearby field or sometimes through the village streets. If you wanted to enter in one of these pram races it’s quite easy. All you need is an old pram, but make sure you remove the baby first and replace it by one member of your team and away you would go. What could be more simple?

The actual races are a lot of fun for competitors and spectators alike. The race track is usually wide enough to allow prams to overtake each other but the competitors are not permitted to crash into other racers and so knock them out of the race. Sometimes the prams accidentally turn over during the race which means the ‘baby’ has to scramble back into the pram as quickly as possible, so that his team can carry on racing.

There are usually prizes for men’s, women’s and junior teams, for the best-dressed team and best-dressed and original pram design. Sometimes the organisers arrange a ‘fastest’ pram race. This is usually in the form of a series of time trials around a shortened circuit. It’s a very exciting race to watch as they race around the circuit which often results in many accidents and crashes.

Take a look at this fantastic footage from the early seventies of pram racing in Rothwell, Leeds.

In one particular village, in the early days of pram racing, it used to be the custom that all the competitors had go round a circuit stopping at the various village pubs, drink half a pint of beer then carry on to the next pub, have a drink of beer and so on. The winner was the last man or team standing, having called at all the pubs around the circuit. Actually, there was one occasion when all the teams failed to finish, having spent more time drinking than racing, so the organisers promptly changed the rules for the following year.

Quite often the races would be sponsored by local businesses who, in turn, would often decide which charities would benefit from the collections. Getting the teams to enter the race is just one of the many tasks which need to be organised. For instance, there are race officials and marshals required. The most important job is to get as many people as possible to go around the crowds of spectators with their collecting buckets and persuade the public to put in lots of money for charity.

There are a number of towns and villages throughout the country which organise pram races during the year, at Christmas time, Easter and in August which always provide a great colourful and exciting day out throughout the year for the competitors and families alike.