On the 27th December 1968 ITV’s regional news bulletin, Midlands News, broadcast pictures of the sixth raft race which had taken place the day before.

In the film we see around fifty people scrambling down the side of an embankment (which we believe to Cawdor Quarry in Matlock) with many different rafts of all shapes and sizes, some are one or two man rafts and others have teams of three of four. One raft is simply a large tyre ring with a seat on it another is decorated as a Viking ship. One raft has a banner which reads ‘Two More Miners Sold Down the River’, another has a sign with an arrow pointing downwards which reads,’ Cremation Department’. Some of the rafters are in fancy dress while others are in wet suits or waterproofs.

The film cuts to a raft with two men wearing bunny ears about to paddle under a pipe bridge. There are rubber tyres dangling from ropes which have been tied to the steel frame of the bridge and one of the bunny eared rafters dives through a tyre into the water then swims back to his raft. Another team then comes into shot on a raft designed as a car. One of the rafters, wearing a chauffeur’s hat and a white coat, is being helped through a tyre by a team mate.

The next scenes are at the weir at Masson Mill where a team of two paddle over the weir. One rafter falls off the back of the raft and slides down the weir on his back and eventually his team mate falls through the middle of the raft into the water. The next team over the weir have converted two bicycles into the raft’s main chassis so that they can stand on the raft’s sides and hold onto the bicycle handlebars. The idea seems to work and they slide down the weir with what appears to be some ease. One of the rafters is wearing a light striped suit and a deerstalker hat.

Next we see a team of three men in wet suites on a large rubber tyre ring. A man in the middle wearing a headdress holds onto his team mates so that they don’t fall off the raft as it takes the weir at some speed. However, the tyre overturns and all three men end up in the water. Meanwhile another rubber tyre comes into view in a team of two and paddles past them.

The last team to approach the weir are two Vikings complete with false beards and a raft designed in the shape of a Viking ship with a dragon figurehead. One of the two rafters has a Viking helmet with horns and they are both wearing fur tops as well as fur trimmed boots. Their paddles are made in the shape of Viking axes. Their raft appears to be steady as they slide down the weir.

Matlock’s annual Boxing Day Charity Raft Race, which celebrated its 50th race last December, was started in 1963 by the Derbyshire Association of Sub-Aqua Clubs to raise funds for the RNLI. The four mile race on the River Derwent begins at Cawdor Quarry in Matlock and finishes at Cromford Meadows. There has been a Matlock Boxing Day Raft Race for every year apart from two, including 2010 when a large tree fell onto the river.

Copyright Notice: Any unauthorised reproduction, copying, editing, transformation, exhibition, exchanging, hiring, lending, public performance, radio or TV broadcasting or web use of this material is strictly prohibited.

For clip licensing queries and general sales, please contact Eliza Richardson at mace@lincoln.ac.uk or call 01522 837750.

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