Patrick Chaplin: Pub History

Pub Games

Four Corners

When undertaking research into darts, interest in other pub games comes naturally. While my main focus is on darts the involvement and overlap of other pub games in that research is unavoidable.

In the past, pub games have been so often the target of licensing justices and unsympathetic police forces as those authorities struggled to reduce levels of drunkenness across Britain and in part blamed pub games. In the late 1930s darts, dominoes and draughts were all banned in Glasgow on the basis that they encouraged young people to venture into pubs. In Liverpool during the same period darts was banned in public house because the game apparently encouraged drunkenness and general ‘ne’r do wellism’.

Games in inns and taverns have been causes for concern for hundreds of years and even monarchs, including Edward III and Henry VIII introduced statutes to ban the playing of games including quoits, skittles and backgammon in such premises on a Sunday, stressing that all men should be better placed to observe the Sabbath and focus on practicing archery at the local butts.

This section is not intended to provide a history of the development of pub games. This has already been admirably achieved through the work of Arthur R. Taylor whose excellent and authoritative book Played at the Pub – The pub games of Britain was published in 2009. (For a review of Arthur’s book see my Book Review section and for a general introduction as to how royal statutes effected darts see Chapter 1 of my book Darts in England 1900-1939: A social history (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009).

Unfortunately Arthur does not have a website but one excellent traditional games-related website I would recommend you visiting is James Masters’ www.tradgames.org.uk

My intention here is to publish articles about individual pub games that have previously written for other publications in order to make them more accessible. The majority of the articles that will feature here were initially published in the Pub History Society’s Newsletter and I am grateful to the Chairman and Committee of the PHS for permission to reproduce them.

Pub Game Articles

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