What has to be one of the most unusual and exciting events takes place in Peasholm Park, Scarborough throughout the summer.
At times during the summer season, war breaks out on the Lake when 20ft replica boats recreate the tensions of a battle at sea.
For more than 80 years the “Battle of Peasholm” has been played out for 30 minutes three times every week during the summer season, delighting audiences who still find it hard to believe that these boats are mostly manpowered. Until 1929, all the boats were manpowered, but then electricity was introduced and now only the larger boats need to be steered by Council employees.
In the early days, the models were First World War battleships, called Dreadnaughts, mystery ships called Q-ships, a passenger liner called Orantes and a U-boat.
After the Second World War, the fleet was replaced with new vessels – this time the battle that was recreated was the Battle of the River Plate.
The British boats were HMS Ajax, Achilles and Exeter. The German battleship was the Graf Von Spee; the Royal Mail liner Asturias and a submarine completed the new fleet.
Around 1960, aircraft were introduced, altering the play of the ships but adding to the excitement for audiences who could not seem to get enough of the Battles!
Also in the 1960s more ships were added to the fleet – HMS Jervis Bay, British Pride and even the Ark Royal.
Although some of the smaller boats are steered by electricity and electricity is certainly used to power the aircraft, most of the boats in the Park, even today, are powered by Scarborough Borough Council employees!
A spokesperson for the Scarborough Tourist Information Bureau joked “It is of course the smallest manned navy in the world!”
Today the Battles still take place but now there is far less emphasis on recreating either World War; just on unnamed “friends” and an equally unnamed “enemy”. Gunfire and smoke continue to fill the air, however, and the aircraft drop bombs from above.
People flock to watch the Battles. If you want to join them the shows start at 15.00 on the following dates:
Dates for 2009
25th (Bank Holiday Monday)
6th, 13th, 20th, 27th (Saturdays)
2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th (Thursdays)
4th, 11th, 18th, 25th (Saturdays)
3rd, 10th, 17th (Mondays)
24th (Bank Holiday Monday)
6th, 13th, 20th, 27th (Thursdays)
1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th (Saturdays)