Sunday, 27 April 2014

A Compendium of Pubs Games Images - Pt. 20

This interesting stone frieze remains above the main entrance, but Ye Olde Bowling Green Hotel in Chester is long gone. The historic building remains though, and is now home to the St Werburgh Parish Centre, a fully licensed members club which offers Darts, Pool, and Snooker, as well as the local speciality of Bagatelle. The original Bowling Green was threatened with destruction following the sale of land at the rear of the building for development. But after several years of neglect and legal wrangles the green has now been lovingly restored by the club, and Bowling resumed in 2008.

This interesting piece of breweriana has recently been added to my growing list of 'mystery gaming objects'. Essentially a plain Mahogany box overlaid with a silvered brass or copper plate advertising Bass in Bottle. The perplexing aspect of this attractive little box, is the two sets of drilled holes in the metal plate, 16 in total, arranged in a similar pattern to a cribbage board.

Despite engaging the opinion of experts in the fields of pub games and breweriana, the purpose of this box, and the identity of the game associated with it remains a mystery. The main issue being that the number of holes on the 'scoring board' don't correspond to any game anyone can currently think of. I also have my suspicions that this object may have been locally crafted rather than manufactured specifically for the Bass Brewery as an advertising item. Certainly the metal plate appears to be 'correct', perhaps a re-fashioned plaque which would have originally been mounted outside a hotel or smart club, but even this is proving difficult to identify. If anyone reading this has seen something similar, or has any idea what game this box might have been used to score, I would be delighted to hear their thoughts.

The small Cambridgeshire market town of Whittlesey seems to me to have a slightly above average number of pubs for its size, many of which are traditional drinking establishments with a strong local following. There have obviously been closures in recent years, including the impressive George Hotel which has only recently re-opened as a Wetherspoon, but those that remain seem reasonably well supported.

The Bricklayers Arms on Station Road is currently closed and showing obvious signs of neglect, but during the annual Straw Bear Festival in 2014 the pub was temporarily re-opened for the crowds and visiting dancers. The pub has certainly seen better days, but vestiges of its former life as a valued local remain, including the Darts Board (above), and a trophy cabinet in the small snug to the right of the entrance. Pride of place amongst the handful of trophies is a large polished-out shield for the Whittlesey Town Domino League, a game still played in pubs and clubs throughout the town at league level. It's perhaps not surprising that this shield is now lacking it's attractive silvery shine, given that the Challenge Shield was first played for in 1926.

An enamelled trophy badge from the Taunton Brewers Skittles League. This league is still active in and around the Somerset town, though which Taunton brewers were the original sponsors of the league is not clear.

This Nine Men's Morris (or Welcome as it's known here) has at first glance the authentic appearance of a vintage wooden board, but in fact it's a cheaper moulded plastic item of a type commonly produced by manufacturers like Invicta of Leicester. It's another good example of a brewery branded game, this one featuring the famous Bass Charrington 'Toby' logo which dates it to the 1970's. In fact an example of this game appears in Timothy Finn's 1975 book 'Pub Games of England'. In all honesty, it looks like it's never been played, perhaps not surprising given how few people would have known how to play Nine Men's Morris at the time.

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