ABINGDON has continued an ancient tradition by voting in a 'Mock Mayor' - thanks to an election with a twist.

The Mayor of Ock Street will again be Harry Knight this year, after he won by just a single vote in one of the tightest elections to the light-hearted post in centuries.

The annual tradition, held this weekend, sees the town's street elect one of Britain's last remaining mock mayors, during a day of dancing, frivolities and drinking.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Knight, who has been mayor in four of the last five years, said: "It's a great honour to be be doing this (for) the people of Ock Street, who vote.

"It's a privilege to do it but my friend Roger (Cox - the defeated candidate) was great - it's a friendly rivalry."

The all-day event saw a 'marathon' of dancing from the Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers and visits to a host of local pubs, before the counting took place near to Brewery Tap on Saturday afternoon.

Oxford Mail:

Traditionally dressed dancers, sporting floral outfits and elaborate head gear, joined local residents to listen to the results at around 4.30pm.

An Abingdon resident for 45 years, the mayor, 68, added: "Its one of the traditions of this town. Many villages and towns used to have mock mayor but nothing on this scale."


Upon winning the contest, Mr Knight was paraded through the streets on a ceremonial chair, with the 'Horns of Ock Street' - the symbol of a neighbourhood grudge in which Abingdon's 'Vineyard boys' where beaten by their Ock Street rivals.

Oxford Mail:

The road used to be where the poorer townsfolk lived and the mayor was their spokesman, who tried to hold the real Mayor to account, according to local historians.

Strict rules still dictate that voters have to live near Ock Street to take part in the election, which was watched by the current mayor of Abingdon, Councillor Charlie Birks.

The new mayor was carried shoulder high on a litter of flowers to the market place, where the day's final dance took place.

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Mr Knight's defeated rival Roger Cox, 70, added: "(The event) goes back so far and we would like to keep it going."

Mr Cox, who has been attending for two decades and mayor in seven previous years, added: "It's been a great day, I have really enjoyed it.

Oxford Mail:

"I don't care about winning - it's just that I am proud to be part of this great tradition."

Archivist Dave Spiers, who was also at the event, explained: "The first reference to it (in 1825) refers to the 'ancient tradition'.

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"It did not happen every year (since) but it happened most years."

Mr Spiers also explained that the current tradition was now unbroken stretching all the way back to 1949.