This film is part of Free

Pancake Day Scramble

A rag tag of boys and girls all pile on top of one another in a free-for-all fight for a pancake, tossed high in the air by the school cook, with a girl emerging winner to glee all around.

Non-Fiction 1960 2 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


In the time before the zealous protection of children, when school kids were even encouraged to be rough, this South Yorkshire mixed bunch of school children enjoy a good brawl in the snow as they fight over a piece of pancake, fresh from the cook’s pan. The teacher looks on in delight as the assorted girls and boys produce mayhem with a pancake, with a girl surfacing with the biggest piece to great acclaim.

It isn’t known who took this film, or which school it is of, but we can be fairly sure it was taken on Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, around 1960. There are many customs associated with Shrovetide, such as mob football, and of course the pancake race, allegedly going back to 1445 when a woman of Olney heard the Shriving Bell while she was making pancakes and ran to the church in her apron, still clutching her frying pan. The school scramble, whose history and extent is unclear, seems to have started in Westminster School in the early 18th century when a pancake was hurled over a 16 foot high beam, with a resulting fierce scramble for the largest piece, the winner receiving a guinea.