Peasholm Park Naval Warfare is a unique holiday and could be the longest running show of all time. As near as we can say the first performance was held about 1927. It was the brainchild of Mr George Horrocks who was the Entertainment’s Manager for many years. Incidentally he was also responsible for the Open Air Theatre which is just across the road from Peasholm Park.
In the early days, the models consisted of First World War battleships which were known as Dreadnoughts, a mystery ship or two, which were known as Q ships, a liner bearing the name ‘Orantes’ and even in those days there was a submarine (U-boat). All vessels were powered by manpower only. It was of course hard work for the operators. Although the vessels were 20ft plus long cramped conditions inside created a host of problems. Electric power was inroduced for the 1929 season. During the 1939-45 war years all the models were kept in storage. Unfortunately they suffered battle damage in the form of dry rot and woodworm so that after the war the vessels made a visit to the breakers yard and were replaced with a new fleet of ships.
The ships built being all scale models of the vessels which took part in the Battle of the River Plate consisted of the following: British cruisers – HMS ‘Ajax’ HMS ‘Achilles’ and HMS ‘Exeter’ the latter being the flagship of the famous trio and of course the German battleship ‘Graf von Spee’. The Royal Mail liner ‘Asturias’ was also introduced along with a submarine.
The format was changed in about 1960 when aircraft were introduced and since then we have included other bessels like the ‘Jervis Bay’ the tanker ‘British Pride’ and ‘Ark Royal’ in 1972. The average life of one of these vessels is 20 to 25 years. Many changes have taken place over the years. We are always trying to improve this unique attraction and the technical difficulties we encounter can be quite considerable. It is of course the smallest manned navy in the world and we are very proud of the fact that the show is known and has been reported in all parts of the world. It has been shown on both BBC and ITV networks but it must be remembered that this is a holiday show – lots of fun and a jolly good battle. Furthermore everyone lives to fight another day!
The first performance for the season takes place on Spring Bank holiday followed by shows in June, July and August.