This film is part of Free

Poppy Day Rag in Cambridge

Poppy Day Rag in Cambridge

Outrageous behaviour that’s all for a good cause. Cambridge students ‘rag raid’ on Poppy Day in 1951. Captured on 8mm by student C.D. Cooper.

Amateur film 1951 6 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for East Anglian Film Archive


Cambridge’s tranquil historic streets are transformed to carnival atmosphere during Rag Week when Cambridge University students wearing outrageous costume take to the streets and ‘rag raid’ the locals, that is, rattling tins or buckets and begging for donations. But there is good intentions despite the chaos, for the students collect money for charity, this occasion being for the Royal British Legion as part of Poppy Day.

Rag Week is always quite a spectacle and cross-dressing is popular; it seems the dafter the costume, the dafter the behaviour. It is interesting to note this footage shows all-male crowds of students, indicative of a time when the majority intake of Cambridge University students in 1951 would certainly have been male. Women weren’t admitted to full membership and able to receive a degree at Cambridge University until December 1947, just a few years before these Rag Week scenes were captured on film. This film was recorded on Standard 8mm by Mr C.D. Cooper, a student at the time. He continued to live in Cambridge after graduation and worked as an engineer.