Saturday, 7 June 2014

Northamptonshire Table Skittles Images

Pub games enthusiast and keen Yeovil & District skittler John Penny shows that he'll turn his hand to any form of the game given half a chance. This photo was taken a few years ago at the White Hart in Hackleton, Northamptonshire, and features John in the 'woodyard', counterbalancing the three wooden cheeses from the game with a pint of ale. The tell-tale orange label on the left-hand turned leg, as well as the upright 'hood' at the back marks this down as being a 'Pepper' table in all likelihood. This table is still in situ at the pub.

This wonderfully evocative footage of a Skittles game at the Rose & Crown is c/o the Cine Film Memories YouTube Channel. Clearly not a league match, this is the kind of afternoon skittles play that has been a feature of Northamptonshire pubs for generations. CFM suggest a date of the 50's or 60's for the footage, but the location of this particular Rose & Crown is not known.

The 'Pinckard' table shown here is located at the Cardigan Arms in Moulton, Northamptonshire. Described in the 1990 edition of the local CAMRA pub guide as being a '...very sporting pub, (with) two Northants Skittles Teams...', the pub seems to be more a venue for live music these days with no league skittles play. Though the table is in good condition, the skittles set is currently missing a pin. I've seen a good few Skittles Tables bearing the name of A R Pinckard, some of which indicating that the table was refurbished rather than constructed at Kislingbury. Whether this or other tables were actually made by A R Pinckard is not clear.

The skittles table shown below and left also carries a small brass plaque, this one recording that Pat Holt of Rushden had a hand in refurbishing the table. From the appearance of the base and legs it seems likely that these required replacing

Resident at the Old Three Cocks in the Northamptonshire village of Brigstock, this table sees regular action in the Islip & District Skittles League. Sadly there are no pins or cheeses available for a casual game on the table, the match day set kept safe from harm by the home team. I suppose you could bring your own!

This is the skittles room at the Royal Oak, Walgrave, Northamptonshire. The table, along with Pool and Darts, was originally located within the pub, but the Royal Oak is now heavily reliant on food trade, and presumably the rattle of skittles play was deemed unsuitable as an accompaniment to dining. It is to the credit of the licensees that skittles remains at the pub, and that league play is still supported when so many tables have been removed altogether from village pubs such as this.

Watney Mann Skittles League 'C' Section Runner-Up 1969
Trophies and prizes are a long standing and integral part of league pub gaming. These days individual success in league or knockout competition is usually rewarded with a cup, shield, or small monetary prize. The larger trophies and shields are held for a year, usually at the home pub. In the past it seems to have been common to award medals, occasionally hallmarked silver, some of which can be seen on this blog. The prize shown above, a folding travel clock, would presumably have been a highly regarded item in its time. The brewing empire of Watney Mann was created by the merger of Watney Combe Reid, and Mann, Crossman & Paulin, and became heavily involved in the Northampton area following the takeover of local brewers Phipps NBC in 1960. Phipps beers and branding were axed towards the end of the 60's, and to help the new brands along Watney Mann became sponsors of the local Northampton Skittles League.

Phipps NBC beers were revived in the 2008, with the beers brewed under contract at the Grainstore Brewery in Rutland. Brewing has now returned to Northampton following the acquisition of the old Albion Brewery in the town centre. A traditional skittles table has been acquired for the proposed onsite bar at the brewery site, and perhaps Phipps NBC may one day sponsor a local league.

These plaques are just two from a box full of similar trophies which may well have been consigned to landfill by now. The Hillmorton Club of the Royal British Legion in Rugby closed for good a year or two ago, the membership presumably now amalgamated into the larger Rugby branch in the town centre. Skittles seems to have been popular at the club from its inception, the Skittles Table dating from 1956 which is probably when it was installed as new. Teams competed in the local Dunchurch & District Skittles League, with the mens game popular enough at the time to have had at least five league divisions (now down to four). The Dunchurch Mens and Ladies leagues are still very active in the Rugby and South Leicestershire area, with several pubs and clubs in and around Hillmorton still venues for the game.

1 comment:

foxyman said...

Nice informative site with great memorabilia. I run the Kettering & District and the Burton Latimer and District web sites at We have around 40 teams of at least eight players (mixed) each playing weekly. Along with the ladies league there are about 400 players of skittles in and around our area. We are always on the look out for new players or new teams so please get in touch if you fancy joining us.