Darts In England 1900 – 1939

As regular visitors to my website will know, I completed my PhD in December 2006 and was always hopeful that my work would see the light of day as a book.

So, it is with the greatest of pleasure that I confirm that the book based on my PhD research is to be published by Manchester University Press (MUP) in Spring 2009. The book, entitled Darts in England 1900-1939 – a social history(ISBN 978-0-7190-7803-3) will be published as part of the prestigious MUP series ‘Studies in Popular Culture’.

As is common with academic publishing, Darts in Englandthe first edition will be produced in hardback and the price of the book will be in the region of (Wait for it!) around £55! I know that sounds very high but this is entirely due to the fact that academic books tend to have only short print runs (about 400-500 copies) to begin with and are targeted, in the main, at individual scholars, universities or other academic institutions.

I believe that my book will be of interest to all darts fans especially those who want to learn more about the history of our great sport and hope that some of you will be able to invest in this unique work. Being a short print run I am hopeful that the hardback first edition will sell out quickly.

If initial sales are good and there is a demand from the darts community for the book I am hoping that the MUP will consider publishing a paperback version at a later date which would retail for a lot less. (Fans wishing to press the publisher for a paperback version can help by e-mailing the Manchester University Press via www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk.)

For those wishing to purchase my book this can be done via the attached PDF form

Darts fans should also note that, in addition to Darts in England,I have three other darts-related books being published in 2009.

Watch this website for details!

To read a sample chapter, please Click here 

All the best,

Patrick Chaplin

Dr Patrick Chaplin – ‘Darts in England 1900-1939’

Darts in England 1900-39 by Dr Patrick Chaplin

12 Years in the making, Dr Patrick Chaplin reveals the social history of Darts in England 1900 -1939.

Self funded, Patrick Chaplin researched the true social history of the sport of darts from its early origins through to the inter war years. The book is a slight revision of Patrick’s academic work used to gain his PhD in 2006. Patrick was later awarded the title of ‘Research Fellow in History’ at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), Cambridge.

I have waited a long time to read this book as it truly enlightens how some of the perceived and embellished ‘truths’ came to light.

The book covers in detail how the early origins dart and dartboards were manufactured in some cases on an individual local level. Early boards were made from a number of materials including wood and clay! prior the concept and introduction of the sisal, bristle board by the Nodor Company in the 1930’s. Boards also and had local variation and different numbering systems of which some still survive today. Patrick explores the social side of the sport and how the sport developed via the working and upper classes of England.

Ever wondered who is credited with the modern numbering system on the dartboard or who was behind the expansion of the sport in the early years? This book tells it all from the emergence of a few entrepreneurs that made the sport accessible to the masses, to the introduction of dart leagues such as the ‘National Darts Association’, the breweries, national newspapers and individuals that took the sport to a new level. The book not only covers the importance of darts as a social sport during these years but how and why it helped to change social attitudes. Darts was not just a working class game played in pubs but also emerged as an upper class activity.

During the research Patrick reveals a number of key times that changed the way we see darts today, including the introduction of darts to public houses; how it became the dominant pub game; the acceptance of the ‘Clock’ dartboard as the standard national board; the involvement of the national newspapers reporting and first regional and national competitions.

Patrick relives the court case that nearly banned darts from the public house as betting on games of luck was banned in pubs. It took a demonstration at a local court to prove darts was a game of skill and the case was dismissed. Despite this the city of Liverpool refused to allow the game to be played in public houses during the 1930’s. This was not down to betting but down to the perceived issue that it encouraged a person to drink more, which was an issue with the local authority at the time. Patrick refers to research conducted at the time demonstrating that in fact it didn’t encourage people to drink more, if anything, less. But one thing darts did do for the public house was to encourage more people to their venues.

The sport of darts clearly made a significant difference during the social leisure time of the early twentieth century and it is clear from this academic work why it took so long to research. The book is written in an academic format, thus containing all references, research material, conclusion and bibliography. This said if you ever wanted to know about the true history of the sport then this book is a must.

The hardback book has a limited print run of 450 copies and although it has a price of £55, it is a must for all dart fans. This book will also appeal to sports historians and social history scholars

Due to this limited print run I suggest you order your copy now otherwise you may be disappointed. However Patrick is hoping the book may be published in paperback next year

“In my opinion it is the most important book written about the sport of darts and is probably the best book you will ever purchase about this wonderful sport.”

David King


A sample chapter and the book is available via direct order from the Manchester University press Click here.

Waterston’s online shop Click here.

Amazon online shop Click here.

June 2009

Dr Patrick Chaplin – ‘Darts in England 1900-1939’

Manchester University Press

Darts in England 1900-39 by Dr Patrick Chaplin

This is the first ever academic work about the sport of Darts and its origins and it was substantively written as part of Chaplin’s studies while acquiring his PHD.

The fact that Manchester University Press have deemed the study worthy of publication indicates its importance, not just to recording properly the history and origins of Darts, but just as substantively its impact in British society at the time.

Extensively researched, Chaplin’s source reference list is amazing. The list of reference notes and the bibliography are huge. It seemed the author left no stone unturned in trying to present a balanced and factual view of the history of Darts and this is the product of many, many years of hard work.

Chaplin examines the origin of Darts and debunks many popular myths thrown about by Darts commentators and journalists. The Henry VIII story is hogwash for example and Chaplin gives us the most believable account of the famous ‘Anakin’ case to date.

Although Darts is absolutely an English game, ‘darts’ themselves definitely have their origins in France! It took some years for English companies to seize the initiative and begin manufacturing brass darts for mass pub play.

Chaplin chronicles the rise of the early dart and dartboard manufacturers in England and he brings to life the huge darts boom of the 1930s – when darts was socially acceptable across all classes.

It’s not all about Darts though. The author discusses the public house and its development in the early part of the last century as well as examining the gradual introduction of other forms of leisure entertainment as workers found they had time to enjoy life, thanks to reduced working weeks.

There are nods to the present day and the author explains well how these early days of Darts sowed the seeds for the multi million pound sport of today.

This really is fascinating, interesting and important historical tome.

The purchase price will be off putting for many at £55, but the book has a very limited print run. I would guess coercing a public library into sourcing a copy would be the best bet for most.

A huge achievement from Chaplin and one can only hope that a follow up is planned filling in the 1945-1970 years when before Darts became a televised phenomenon.

Andy Fairclough

Superstars of Darts

July 2009

Darts In England 1900-1939 : A Social History by Patrick Chaplin

Darts in England 1900-39 by Dr Patrick Chaplin

Charis Mutschler of the prestigious German darts website www.darts1.de has reviewed my book Darts in England 1900-1939: A social history. Here is the review as featured on the website, followed by Charis’s English translation.

Patrick Chaplin: Darts in England 1900 – 1939: A social history

Patrick Chaplin – der einzige Dr. Darts – hat dieses Buch auf der Grundlage seiner Doktorarbeit erarbeitet. Akribisch und sorgfältig hat er Quellen ausfindig gemacht und ausgewertet, um die Verflechtung zwischen der sozialen Entwicklung in England und dem aufstrebenden Dartsport darzustellen.

Was dabei herausgekommen ist, ist ein wirklich interessantes und gut zu lesendes Buch in verständlichem Englisch, wenn auch nicht unbedingt für Jedermann, was auch schon der recht hohe Preis verhindern wird-

Chaplin stellt zunächst einmal richtig, dass Darts ursprünglich nicht aus Großbritannien kam sondern sich aus dem französischen „Flechette“ entwickelt hat.

Auch rückt er die Beziehung Darts und Pub etwas zurecht – es war beileibe nicht so, dass Darts von Anfang an und überall im Pub gespielt würde. Es war viel mehr so, dass die großen Brauereien Dart und Dartligen in den Pubs massiv unterstützen – einmal um die Leute vom vielen Trinken und vom Glückspiel abzuhalten und die Pubs durch das Angebot von Pub – Games aus düsteren Kaschemmen in wirkliche Public Houses umzuwandeln und zum anderen um die Leute – und zwar nicht nur die Männer – bei der Stange zuhalten, in einer Zeit in der Kino und Music-Halls immer größeren Raum in der Freizeitgestaltung der Menschen (die auch mehr Freizeit hatten) einnahmen, vor allem auch, weil man mit Frau oder Familie dort hingehen konnte. So blieb den Brauerein und Pubbesitzern nichts anderen übrig, als die Pubs attraktiver und zumindest Frauenfreundlicher zu machen, damit sie überhaupt konkurrenzfähig blieben.

Mit der Gründung der National Darts Association erhielt der Sport dann allgemein gültige Regeln und Vorgaben und auch die Massenmedien, vor allem die Sonntagszeitungen (News of the World) unterstützen den Sport durch Berichterstattung und indem sie große Turniere sponserten.

Ein sehr empfehlenswertes Buch für alle die an Sozialgeschichte, Geschichte der Freizeitkultur, Soziologie oder einfach nur am Dartsport interessiert sind.

Zu beziehen ist das Buch über die Manchester University Press, es kostet 55 brit.Pfund.

Charis Mutschler, November 2009, http://www.darts1.de

Patrick Chaplin Darts in England 1900 – 39 A social history English translation

Patrick Chaplin – the only existing Dr. Darts – wrote this book on the basis of his PhD thesis. Meticulously and carefully he sought out sources and analysed them to be able to show the interconnections between the social development in England and the rising sport of darts.

The result is a really interesting and good to read book, might be not a book for everyone something the high price will hinder anyway.

Chaplin first corrects the idea darts has it origin in Great Britain – originally it was a French game called “Flechette” which was developed in Great Britain into darts.

Then he sets right the relationship between the sport and the pub – it was not that darts was played from the beginning and everywhere in the pub. It was the big breweries which supported and established darts and dart leagues in the pubs. One of the reasons was to hinder people from massive drinking and from all kind of gambling – darts was a proven game of skill. Another reason was that it got necessary to change the pubs from low pubs into real public houses to get more people into the pubs offering pub games to pass there the leisure time (and more leisure time people had) instead visiting the new attractions like the cinema and the music halls were you could even take your wife of girl friend or the whole family as well. So the pubs had to get more respectable and family friendly and darts helped to this.

When the National Darts Association was founded the sport got generally valid rules. The mass media supported the growing sport as well –especially the Sunday papers (News of the World) gave the sport a lot of coverage and helped to sponsor tournaments.

A highly recommended, unique book for people interested in social history, leisure time culture, sociology or in the sport of darts.

You can buy the book from Manchester University Press, the price is 55 brit.pounds

Charis Mutschler. November 2009. http://www.darts1.de

Author’s reply:

I am thrilled that Charis Mutschler has reviewed my bookand am equally pleased that she has enjoyed it. I think this is the first time that my book has been reviewed outside of the UK. As Charis says it is a very expensive book but unfortunately for the general reader that is always the case with academic publications.

However, I do hope that Manchester University Press will bring out a soft cover version of Darts in England in the near future which will retail at a more reasonable price. I hope this will then encourage more darts fans to read what I have discovered about the history and development of the great sport of darts.

Thanks to Charis for her very positive review.

Patrick Chaplin

November 2009

Dr. Patrick Chaplin has written the Bible of darts history!

It should come as no surprise that Patrick Chaplin’s more than decade-long research earned him the first and only Ph.D. “in darts” from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge in 2006 – and darts enthusiasts everywhere are in for an indulgence now that a popular treatment of Chaplin’s dissertation is available on the market.

Darts in England 1900-39 by Dr Patrick Chaplin

Chaplin’s dissertation-turned-treatise, Darts in England, 1900-1939 – A Social History (Manchester University Press, 2009), is meticulously researched and precise to a degree unprecedented among the efforts of those who have previously attempted to chronicle the history of the sport of darts and his academic attention to detail instills confidence in his findings.

Should one, for example, have any doubt that darts originated in FRANCE, as wild and unlikely (and blasphemous) as this may seem, one need only consider Chaplin’s extensive set of notes and bibliography. Included are 77 pages, comprising nearly 30% of the 258 pages between the covers. By comparison, Dan Peek cited just five pages of references in his often maligned “history” of darts in America, To the Point.

Of course, it should also come as no surprise that Chaplin’s hardback effort is unlikely to become a best seller or be snapped up for the big screen. Priced as it is at roughly $80 (almost enough to fill up a two-gallon gas can) the masses will most likely wait for the paperback version. If you are one of these people I encourage you to contact the publisher at Manchester University Press. Just explain that you really want to purchase the book but to keep peace at home you must pinch pennies to afford to mow the lawn – ask them to publish a paperback version. The hold up with the Darts in Englandmovie is finding an actor old enough to play Olly Croft.

Probably you are wondering what the book’s about. Fair enough. After all, this is supposed to be a review of the book. The answer, DUH, you big damn dummies, is that the book is about darts! More specifically, it’s about darts and the evolving pastime’s impact on social activities in England during the interwar years. If you’re like me and you don’t (or didn’t) know what the interwar years were here’s the answer: the interwar years were the period between the Korean War and the war in Vietnam (which proves that I too am a big damn dummy.)

While debunking numerous theories proffered by other authors as to the origins of the game (such as that darts was a recreational activity among soldiers during the Middle Ages – throwing broken arrows at the felled end of a tree), Chaplin traces the true origins of the game to an occasionally played children’s game to a fairground attraction and, eventually, to the pub.

Chaplin chronicles the development of the game of darts – the influence of the mass media, the breweries that introduced darts into public houses to counter the temperance movement and compete with the growing popularity of other leisure activities (such as football, dancing, and the cinema), the early manufacturers, the founding of the National Darts Association and the standardization of the game’s equipment and rules, and the News of the World tournament – to the sport we know today (or at least as of 1939).

In Chapter 7, my favorite, Chaplin recalls the exploits of some of the early greats of the game, the unknown and unsung local heroes who helped ignite widespread enthusiasm and launch the first legitimate darts craze in the 1930s. In this chapter Chaplin also recounts the day in December 1937 when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth found themselves involved in an impromptu game in Slough.

The King and Queen were touring the Slough Social Centre where in the games room a number of activities were in progress – billiards, table tennis, and darts. Unexpectedly, the Queen asked one of the darts players if she could try. The Queen threw first, scoring a single seven, a single thirteen, and a single one, a total of twenty-one points. The King then took the darts and scored nineteen points, announcing that the Queen had won by two points. Chaplin then relates how this brief but prominent moment in time profoundly impacted the spread of the game across social classes and attracted the first influx of women to what previously was the near exclusive domain of the men.

Chaplin explores the impact of gambling and drinking on the early days of the game and reviews in detail the well known Annakin court case in 1908, correcting many previous authors’ overstatements as to the historical significant of the case. While the result did establish darts as an exercise in skill not luck, hence not a gambling activity and therefore legal, the ramifications of the judgment were local, not national – and certainly not such that darts would have died “virtually stillborn” had the verdict gone the other way, as past authors have postulated.

Page after page, chapter after chapter, Darts in England is an education. It’s not about technique or strategy or equipment or war stories from the tournament circuit. It’s a monumental publication in a league of its own about the very foundation of the game and, as such, is far and away the most important study of the genesis and growth of darts that has been penned since Rupert Croft-Cooke wrote the first-known book about the game three-quarters of a century ago, in 1936.

Anyone with any curiosity about all that led to the sport as we know it today would be remiss not to add Chaplin’s Darts in England to their library. It’s the Bible of darts history.

From the Field,


© 2009 Patrick Chaplin

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