The river was also a big attraction at Regatta time: we were taken down to sit on the grass banks opposite the Port Royal or as near as we could get so we could see the boat crews making their last desperate effort after coming around the bend, under the ferry wire, and across the winning line.
There was always a big entry of crews and racing went on most of the day. We all picnicked on the banks. After a day out we would walk back to Exe Bridge and catch the tram back to the Depot in Paris Street. We always sat on the open top deck where the seats were slatted wood and the trolley bar rose from the centre to run along the overhead wires; sparks would fly when you crossed the junction at Queen Street and the top of Paris Street.
There was a slippery pole out over the water, down by the Port Royal. There used to be a ham on the top and if you could climb up the greasy pole it was yours. If you fell off the pole, you fell in the river. This was while racing was going on and they used to have a fair on Haven Banks at the same time.
I've been in there swimming myself, carnival time, jolly good sport. Anybody could qualify for anything, any time; that's provided it wasn't very obscene or anything, but even then they had their fun.
These memories are taken from the contribution of several Exeter citizens to the People Talking project that was created by Jenny Lloyd in 1976. The full transcript, and other People Talking memories are available at the West Country Studies Library or the Devon and Exeter Institution.
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