Regatta History

The 'Appledore & Instow Regatta' was established in 1885
However it roots were founded in 1831!

The Regatta as we know it today was founded back in 1831 when two events were established at the same time. Ilfracombe's Annual Amusements named 'The North Devon Regatta' as it was noted at the time and 'The North Devon (Horse) Races' at Youlston Old Park, Shirwell, Barnstaple.

Ilfracombe hosted,
annual amusements, which have assumed the name of "The North Devon Regatta", as it was noted in the Morning Post, Friday 5th August 1831 and was a great success.

At the same time The North Devon Races were established at Youlston Manor (Old Park) near Shirwell, Barnstaple, then owned by the Chichester Family in addition to Arlington Court and much of the surrounding land. At the same time Mr Frederick Hodgson MP for Barnstaple, donated a silver plate worth £50 as a prize to the newly founded North Devon Regatta.

'The North Devon Regatta' was hosted across North Devon from Bideford, Barnstaple, Instow, Appledore & Ilfracombe at the same time as 'The North Devon Races'. Then in the Woolmer's Exeter & Plymouth Gazette, Saturday July 10th 1852, it was announced that the 'The North Devon Regatta' will take place at Instow. This Event was the earliest recorded Regatta to have occurred in either Appledore or Instow, but still under the name and organisation of the 'North Devon Regatta'. The popularity of the North Devon Regatta Event grew rapidly following its associated popularity in South Devon with other Regatta's in the South West Region. Instow, since 1852, continued to host the North Devon Regatta until 1881.

Between 1831 and 1880 'The North Devon Regatta' was hosted across North Devon Towns but by 1881 Bideford and Barnstaple wanted to host their own Regatta's due to its popularity using the same name 'The North Devon Regatta' with their own respective horse races. Indeed Bideford hosted Horse Racing on the sandy banks of the River Torridge 'East The Water' side up to the Bideford Bridge and also at Abbotsham with a purpose built Race Course.

This was the beginning of Towns across North Devon hosting their own versions of the 'North Devon Regatta' for the next couple of years until Bideford, in 1884, held its own distinctly named 'Bideford Regatta'. The North Devon Regatta, as it had been known since 1831, was at an end, with towns across North Devon hosting their own Regatta Events under their own Town names.

In 1863, noted by Dr Alison Grant in the extract below from her book 'Instow A History', it gives a very concise account of the Regatta.
                        Extract from 'Instow a History' - Dr Alison Grant                                    Extract from Bideford Gazette

The first joint 'Appledore & Instow Regatta' was recorded in 'The North Devon Journal, July 30th 1885' in the Bideford Gazette and it is from this year that the 'Appledore & Instow Regatta' was established. The extract left shows little has changed with these truly traditional local events.

Over the years then on, the Regatta has been know as either the Instow Regatta, Appledore Regatta and for more than 120 years it has been more commonly know as the Appledore & Instow Regatta to this present day. Either way around the Regatta is the communal celebration of the Appledore & Instow shared village and maritime heritage spanning centuries to the present day.

The photographs below show the many spectators and visitors to the Regatta during one of the earlier photographed Regatta's around the 1900's and in more recent times.

Even Appledore's Vicar has braved the Greasy Pole in 2010 Regatta!

The Greasy Pole is undeniably one of the most time immemorial and plucky events of the Regatta. It has been an annual favourite event at the Regatta for over 100 years with locals and visitors pitting their wit, skill and in some cases expertise, to get to the end of the pole in the quickest time without falling in.

2012 Regatta was a celebrity year with Will Mellor and Rory McGrath pitting their wits against the competition for the World Crabbing Competition filming for a Channel 5 series Champions of the World and Appledore & Instow Regatta was chosen as one of their around the UK Championships.