OTHER DARTBOARDS IN PLAY
In the following article, pub games expert Arthur R. Taylor, brings to our attention an array of regional and other dartboards that he has discovered over many years of research.
This is not a catch-all as, as you will find elsewhere on this website, other local or even regional dartboards are discovered from time to time.
This article was written by Arthur in 2007 and reflects his dartboard discoveries to that date. Arthur writes:
Although the standard board reigns supreme, other areas of the country, besides Manchester, have clung to their own regional dartboards for at least a part of the season.
The YORKSHIRE BOARD, so important in the general history of the game, was quite common on its home ground only a generation ago. In April 1973, Yorkshire Television (YTV) launched an extraordinary six-part local lunchtime show called The Indoor League, ‘live from the Queens Hotel in Leeds.’
It was pre-recorded and heavily edited) and presented by Fred Trueman, legendary Yorkshire and England fast bowler, now retired with pipe and pint in hand (at lunchtime) and complete with avuncular Yorkshire dialogue. His end-of-the-show catchphrase was ‘Aah’ll sithee’ (I’ll see you).
The programme featured an odd assortment of several pub games, ancient and modern – shove-ha’penny, bar billiards, pool, and arm-wrestling – and darts. Because it came from Yorkshire, the first series of the show featured the Yorkshire board, which to the rest of the watching world in the 1970’s must have looked a little odd. A standard board without the trebles and just the single bull. At the time, in Yorkshire, there were scores of local leagues using the board. By the second series, which was nationally networked, the Yorkshire board had gone, replaced by the standard board.
The series ran, with repeats and re-edits and the occasional new material, for five years. The original programmes, featuring the Yorkshire board, are available on DVD.
The Yorkshire board can still be found in play in a handful of seasonal leagues south of York and north of Grimsby. The John Smiths Escrick Club Winter Darts League has a dozen teams in two divisions. The Pocklington and District Dart League has ten teams scattered around Pocklington and in the villages of Market Weighton, Elvington and Ellerton. There is a Howden League and a Derwent League. They play six single matches of 501, straight in, bull to finish, then three doubles at 701.
The LINCOLN BOARD looks pretty much like the Yorkshire board – same numbering and single bull – but it is all black and until a few years ago, was actually slightly larger. The various leagues agreed to reduce the size of the board by ¾ inch, so that the wires became fixed at the same dimensions as the Yorkshire board. The throw in the Lincoln and District Darts League is seven feet, therefore shorter than the standard throw. (The throw in darts can vary all over the country, from six feet to nine feet, although the approved BDO and PDC distance is 7ft 9¼ inches.) A league match in Lincoln comprises two pairs games of 701 up, best of three legs, four single games of 501, again best of three legs and one four-man team 1501 up. They have fifty teams spread over five divisions in Lincoln. There are further leagues in the surrounding countryside, including the Fosse Men’s League and the Fosse Villages Ladies League.
The KENT BOARD looks exactly like the Lincoln board and again, used to be much larger, but has been brought to standard width. There was a theory at one time that the board was brought to Kent from Yorkshire, by coal miners who came south to work in the Kent coalfields. The Kent board was being played on before the First World War and the earliest photograph we have shows a team of fishermen, not miners, gathered around the board. There are a few leagues left around Medway, Rainham, Maidstone and Sheppey.
The IRISH BOARD is indistinguishable from the Lincoln and Kent boards. It is still advertised by retailers, but no-one seems to play it anymore.
The only BURTON or STAFFORDSHIRE BOARD left hangs in the Baltic Trader, a mock-up of an Edwardian pub in the Coors Visitor Centre in Burton on Trent. (This used to be the Bass Museum until the American brewers, Coors, bought them out.)
The Burton board looks just like the Yorkshire board, but has two boxes, 1 inch square, outside the normal playing area, one between the doubles 14/19 and the other in between 4/13. The boxes scored 25 – the same score as an outer bull counts on the standard board.
Elderly locals used to claim that Frederick Law, a publican and barber at the Oddfellows Arms in Uxbridge Street, actually invented the Burton board, including its numbering system, in the 1880’s. It may be that he did add the boxes to the existing board. The local leagues, with one exception, decided to ditch the Burton board and adopt the standard board in 1976. The Tutbury and District League carried on with the local board until the 1990’s. The Coors Visitor centre has an occasional ‘games night’, when a group can come along, paying £13.50 a head, and for that money receive a beer sampling, a light supper and play some traditional games, including darts on the Burton board.
The EAST LONDON or NARROW FIVES board, was extremely popular in its region – Poplar, Bow, Canning Town, Plaistow and Plumstead – up to thirty years ago. It was played not only in pubs and clubs, but in Sunday schools and church halls.
There are still a few pubs who persevere with the board, including The Watermans Arms, Glenaffrid Avenue and The Ferry House, Ferry Street, both on the Isle of Dogs. As its name suggests, the Fives board has multiples of five, from 5 to 20, repeated round the board. There is a double band and a treble band, plus a bull with inner and outer. The WIDE FIVES board is exactly the same, but the doubles and trebles are wider. It used to be called the ‘Ladies Board’ in London.
There are several leagues who still use the Wide Fives board, in Ipswich, Suffolk. The Ipswich Friendly Fives League was formed thirty or so years ago and originally had ten mixed teams. They are now down to five teams, who play each other twice at home and twice away on Tuesday evenings from September to early May. The Mencap Leagues, one for men, the other for women, play on Monday evenings. Games on the Fives board tend to be 305, 505 or 705, for obvious reasons.
The MANLON board is a strange hybrid – a London, or standard board, reduced to the size of a Manchester log-end board. It was introduced by Perrigo Darts, Manchester, in 1953. You had a Manchester board on one side of the log-end, and a scaled down London board on the other. The theory was that if you practised on this tiny board, your game could only improve when you went back to the normal size board. It doesn’t seem to have caught on. The Withington (Manchester) Manlon Board League only lasted a couple of seasons, back in the 1990’s. Perrigo’s stopped production in 2003. The board, where it is still kept, is nowadays only brought out on special occasions, for a bit of fun. Christmas seems to be the season.
The CHAMPIONS CHOICE dartboard is a London, or standard board with narrower doubles and trebles. Again, the theory was that practise here would improve your game on the usual board.
The QUADRO, now out of production, but still to be seen here and there, was a standard board with a quadruple band added between the trebles and the bull. The top score with three darts was thus 240, rather than 180 and in theory you could get out in three darts on 210, with two quadruple twenties and an inner bull. Phil Taylor played the board on television in the 1990’s – he says he tried to hit the quadruple 20, as the organisers requested, and managed one 240. In the meantime. The other players ignored the new band and kept hitting the treble 20. Taylor lost.
© 2007 Arthur R. Taylor. Additional words © 2019 Patrick Chaplin
Images (c) NODOR International and PC Darts Archive. Image of Quadro 240 copyright Harrows Darts used with permission.