Comedian Tim FitzHigham and a recording crew recently spent two days at the RPRA One Loft in Tewkesbury – trying to prove an 18th Century bet!
Tim is making a series of programmes for BBC Radio 4 based around historic sporting bets. Many of his exploits are available on YouTube, including crossing the channel in a bath. The latest bet he was pursuing dated from the 1750’s, between two gentlemen who wagered that a message could not be carried 50 miles in one hour.
Only methods available in the 18th Century were permitted. So far, such ideas as putting a message in a cricket ball and throwing it around a cricket field have failed.
After many weeks of miserable weather we finally got a window which allowed a message to be put in a WW2 carrier on several of Jeremy Davies’ old birds. Whilst Tim and one of the crew waited with Jeremy at the Loft, RPRA General Manager Stewart Wardrop and another member of the crew made their way down to a release point near Weston Super Mare, just over 50 miles away from the loft.
Attempt 1 – Monday – clear blue skies, no wind
So close – we failed by just over 8 minutes!
Attempt 2 – Tuesday – clear blue skies, no wind
With Tim coming all the way back from Cambridge for Attempt 2, we duplicated the activity of Monday but this time failed by just under 8 minutes, and with Tim due at the Edinburgh Festival for the duration of August unfortunately the recording had to stop.
Attempt 3 (no BBC recording though!) – Friday – 80% blue sky with a following wind
The birds did it!! 50 miles in just under 55 minutes!! We did joke that it was the pressure of not being recorded that may have made the difference.
We have passed this information to Tim, and hopefully he will get a free day to get back over to the loft so that the final part of his story can be recorded and told.