From the Darlington & Stockton Times of June 3, 1871

ON the day after Whit Monday, thousands of people – “workmen chiefly” said the D&S Times with a frown across its face – continued their holiday by visiting Croft-on-Tees, where two galas were held.

And, of course, it ended in trouble.

The Darlington Sax Horn Band held its annual gala behind the Spa Hotel with the Croft and Hurworth bands. Gymnasts from the travelling Excelsior Circus were also there. “The most striking part of their performances were those on the flying trapeze, which drew forth well-merited applause from the spectators,” said the D&S.

Pole leaping took place with Philip Lumley winning first prize for covering 9ft 6ins.

The Northern Echo said: “Dancing, turzy and rustic games were indulged in with pleasing gaiety.”

There were over 5,000 people at this gala while at Monk End, behind the rectory, there were thousands more attending the Great All England Handicap where a sprint race over 125 yards was held, apparently for a national title. After four heats, W Johnson of Stockton won the £7 first prize with T Pinkney of Thirsk second.

Many of these spectators had caught special trains from as far away as Newcastle. “At the same time, competition was carried on with the railway by means of bans, buses and cabs, of which many availed themselves,” said the D&S.

“The crowds of visitors were on the whole very well behaved, though the effects of over-stimulation were occasionally visible, and found expression at Monk End in something like a free fight, where several men were at one time belabouring each other in a most desperate manner, blood all the while flowing very freely.

“Some surprise is expressed that the four North Riding police who were present either did not observe or refused to intervene, that task being undertaken most pluckily by one of the Darlington police, who succeeded in quelling the row.

“The special trains were returning from Croft to Darlington up till half-past eight at night, the first running at about six o’clock.”