THOMAS ‘TUMBLE’ TOMPKINS

Way, way back probably even before the first issue of Dr. Darts’ Newsletter (DDN) was published IN 2010, I received an e-mail from Dennis D. an itinerant woodsman asking if I could help with any information about his great-grandfather Thomas ‘Tumble’ Tompkins apparently a well-known darts player in both the mill towns of Lancashire and the paper mills of North Somerset during the 1950s.

Dennis said that ‘Tumble’ won an enormous amount of trophies at his local pub the Torment and Gusts and always entered the News of the World individual darts tournament but never made it past the ‘house’ competition. However, ‘Tumble’ did travel the UK entering hundreds if not thousands of darts tournaments sometimes even making it past the first round. Desperate to find out more about his great-grandfather, Dennis had trawled the internet for information but had found nothing; thus his e-mail to me.

I found nothing but then, years later, in the early hours of this morning when I couldn’t sleep, I went to my office to sort through some papers. I cleared out a cupboard to which I had not gained access since 2005 and to my surprise found an envelope marked ‘Tumbler’ Tomkins. I honestly did not recall ever seeing this before.

Within was an outline of ‘Tumbler’s’ life plus some photos. The youngest image of him (shown here © PC/DW Archive) shows ‘Tumbler’ at an early age with quite obviously a Northwood Collapsible Dart sticking out of his top pocket. Disintegrating notes describe ‘Tumbler’ as ‘intelligent’, ‘highly skilled’ and ‘a bit weird’ and record his early darts matches at school between the ages of five and fourteen. It also recalls ‘Tumbler’ winning his darts badge’ in his local Boy Scout troop. Another photo (above © PC/DW Archive) shows ‘Tumbler’ in his mid-twenties when he was well into his purple patch of darts-playing.

Further delicate handling of the notes failed to save the fragile text so I was unable to learn as much as I had wished. However, I did find one last fragment; a photograph of ‘Tumblers’’ lounge at his home (shown below ©PC/DW Archive). A carefully scribbled note on the reverse of the photo states, ‘A corner of our lounge. The dartboard is on the other side of the door and the dog has just died.’

Despite the problems identified I had great pleasure in sending all the information and photographs I had gleaned from hours of research to Dennis. Obviously it was the first time he had seen the photos or read the information and I anticipated him being thrilled to learn of my discoveries. Almost immediately he replied

“Thanks for all your hard work Patrick which is much appreciated but it’s not him. My great-grandfather never smoked a pipe, was completely bald since birth and his nickname was ‘Tumble’ not ‘Tumbler and his surname was Tompkins not ‘Tomkins.’ Best wishes, Dennis.”

Thus both Dennis and I continue our search for this elusive star of the oche.

© 2013 Patrick Chaplin (1st April) Amendments 2019

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