Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Compendium of Pub Games Images - Pt.14

This is the wonderfully unspoilt interior of the Fox & Goose at Ilston-on-the-Hill in Leicestershire. The back bar now appears to be more for dining than a singalong around the piano, but the diminutive main bar is just as it's always been, or at least since the 70's when the pub was acquired by Everards from the now defunct Ruddles Brewery of Rutland. Everything about the bar draws the eye, from the taxidermy (note the dogs head overseeing the Darts Board) to the numerous bygones and relics acquired over the years. The Darts Board comes equipped with a nice piece of Wilton carpet for the surround, and scores of 180 are recorded on a beam in the bar. Dominoes and Crib Boards are also available, and I can't think of a better venue for an afternoon game.

This Skittles Table shares playing space with the Darts Board at the Royal George in Cottingham, Northamptonshire. The table was originally located at the Red Lion in Middleton, but was moved to the George (along with most of the playing team) following the pubs untimely closure in 2011. Cottingham's other pub, the Spread Eagle, also closed in 2012. The whereabouts of its Skittles Table is currently not known.

Until fairly recently the Artizan pub in Northampton was home to that most traditional of local games, Northamptonshire Table Skittles. Sadly the game is now very hard to find in its home town, and only the original chalk scoring boards remain at the pub. Pub games are still popular at the pub though. The Games Room on the left of the entrance accommodates a Pool Table for Wednesday league play, and the main lounge/bar to the right is home to a Darts Board and on Tuesday evenings the serious business of league Cribbage. The Artizan team play in the Northampton Licensed Trades Association Cribbage League, a venerable league established in 1897 and active throughout the year with both a Summer and a more usual Winter league, plus a whole host of knockout competitions and cup nights.

The Winter League is currently competed for by teams of nine players, and yet eleven individually numbered Cribbage Boards can be found in the games storage box at the Artizan. This is a throwback to the time when the game was popular enough for teams of eleven to compete. The 'odd' player numbers for teams is presumably designed to prevent the possibility of a drawn match

Not a pub game it's true, but the sport of Pigeon Racing is strongly associated with pubs, and more particularly the club scene. This sign is located on the wall of the Midland Railway pub in Syston, Leicestershire. Whether the Harrow Racing Pigeon Club still make their home at the pub is not known.

The beer, spirit and tobacco trade have long been keen to advertise their wares through the paraphernalia of traditional pub games. Playing Cards and Dominoes are obvious favourites for this kind of branding, as are Cribbage Boards, as shown in the selection above. The Tetley Bitter Domino set at the top is a relatively modern item, the lid to the box reverses to give the crib board. Watneys Brewery, the infamous creators of Red Barrel Keg Bitter, would have been distributing these boards during the 70's or 80's, whereas I've not managed to find out anything about Showman Tobaccos 'Six Pleasing Varieties', one of literally hundreds of long-gone tobacco brands from the early 20th century. This connection has weakened considerably in recent years, but regional and local breweries are still important sponsors of some traditional pub game leagues.

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