Knaresborough Bed Race
Famous for its stunning viaduct, for one weekend a year, the north Yorkshire town of Knaresborough transforms from a relaxed and picturesque place, into one the busiest destinations in Yorkshire. The Knaresborough bed race has become something of a public holiday in the region, with people from all over the country travelling to watch, and take part in this unique occasion!
A quick search for #Knaresboroughbedrace on Instagram gives you a real flavour of what the event is all about. In a nutshell, it’s a 2.4 mile race through the medieval streets of Knaresborough, including all sorts of terrain, even a 20-yard swim across the River Nidd. It’s a team event which begins well before the day itself, where teams will work on creating their own beds, which have to be able to carry a person. Designs range from the simple to the outright remarkable… if you don’t believe us, head over to Instagram and take a look yourself!
With it being such an unusual event, you might ask “Where did this begin?” or “Who’s behind it?” Read on to find out more…
How it began
The Bed Race dates all the way back to 1966 and was the brainchild of the newly-formed Knaresborough Round Table, who were looking to establish a major charity fund-raising push.
Rather than opting for the more traditional soap box derby, tug-o-war or a raft race on the river, they decided upon a bed race.
Only four teams competed in the first year of the bed race, from HMS Forest Moor, RAF Linton-on-Ouse, the Army Apprentices in Harrogate and the US Army from Menwith Hill. The Army Apprentices took the victory, however the US team entered the river before they needed to and went from first place to last. The race took place on the second Saturday of June, which it still is to this day. The weather was poor and there were only a few spectators there, however, £300 was raised for local charities and with that the Knaresborough Bed Race was born.
The next year saw a considerable increase in interest, with 21 teams and over 10,000 people attending in order to spectate. The winners that year, Knaresborough Young Farmers, broke the previous record and completed the course in just 18 minutes and 21 seconds. That year, over £800 was raised.
From there, the bed race has continued, going from strength to strength, never missing a single year - despite several years of terrible weather rendering the river out of action. Over the years the event has evolved, with the introduction of a “Best Dressed Beds” competition, which spurs on another competitive element to the day.
This year Manning Stainton is sponsoring Oatlands Primary School in the Bed Race… so make sure to keep an eye out for them!