Saturday, 16 March 2013

A Compendium of Pub Games Images - Pt.15

The area around the Warwickshire town of Rugby is another outpost for the game of Table Skittles, though existing tables are few and far between in the town itself. The Alexandra has one of the last remaining tables in the town centre, quite a vintage W T Blacks model from the look of the turned legs and the fragments of two plastic labels which can still be seen pinned to them.

The Pins and Cheeses are the yellow plastic variety favoured in the adjacent Lutterworth and Dunton Bassett leagues. This set are stamped with the moniker of joiner and skittle table repairer Colin Swinfen, based in the nearby village of South Kilworth in Leicestershire.

The Bridle Lane Tavern is a small, effectively single bar pub located on the edge of the city centre. The pub stands adjacent to a large traffic island, and is overlooked by the Belgrave Flyover (there are currently plans to demolish this ugly concrete edifice and redevelop the area). At one time the pub must have been hemmed in by buildings on either side, though it now stands isolated, a thin wedge of a building which helps explain the diminutive size of the drinking area. It's a welcome survivor in an area which has lost many of its local pubs, reflecting the radically changed demographics and the steep decline in industry of this area of Leicester. Despite the limited space there's still room for a good Darts Board, with another located in what appears to be a covered yard to the rear. Until fairly recently the pub was also home to a Leicester Skittles Table, an increasingly rare traditional pub game which sadly ended up in a skip during refurbishment by a former licensee.

When I first spotted these skittles at an antiques emporium in Lincolnshire, I thought they were of the style known as Old English Skittles, the largest skittle form still played in England. In fact they resemble more closely Long Alley pins of the Derby/Notts variety though larger and more bulbous in shape. The 'cheeses' are still a bit of a mystery though. These appear to be a cross between those used in Northamptonshire Table Skittles, and the large Lignum Vitae 'discus' shaped cheeses used in the now very rare Old English game. The owner describes them as Country Fete Skittles, which is probably as accurate a description as any. Given their current condition, riddled with worm holes, and set at an unrealistically high price, I can't see them coming back into use any day soon.

Domino players required at the Kings Head in Leicester. Since re-opening as a Black Country Ales pub in 2012, the Kings Head has returned to the fold as a good pub for beer, and under the current licensee is now settling in as a proper locals pub too. It's slightly unusual to see league Dominoes being played at a pub so close to the centre of town. Unusual but very welcome.

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