Updated 24 Jun 2012

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Children's Games

The webmaster asked people on the DERBYSGEN mailing list what children's games they could remember from the 1950's or earlier. Here are the printable and coherent replies. Anyone with more memories contact the webmaster on

"Children's Games" by Pieter Breugel (1560),
which shows 250 children playing about 80 games.
Horse racing
Whips & tops
Kings & Queens


This Xmas Day, I'm going round to my brother's house, where: "Each couple is invited to bring/organise at least 1 game that has been around for at least 50 years" Has anyone memories of a particular (unusual) game they played at school?

For instance, I remember those third-pint milk bottles with cardboard tops. Boys kept the tops on a string, the game was to spin them close to a wall, the boy with the closest top won all the other tops in the game. Old tops smelled of bad cream, awful!

Another game, 10 boys would form a line holding hands. The boy at one end would heave on the line, the others would also heave, the boy on the other end would fly horizontal and land on his knees. Thats why our knees were always covered in scabs, and we wore short trousers.

Look forward to hearing of any other unusual games, anyone know their names?
John Palmer Dorset


Selection rhymes are an important part of childhood. If a game is being set up and nobody wants to volunteer for a particular part or position, then a selection rhyme is used to choose the unfortunate individual.

All rhymes begin with the players in a circle. Then one of them, the singer, begins the rhyme and points around to the left or to the right, counting once for each beat of the rhyme. At the end of each iteration of the rhyme, the person, or hand, corresponding to the last beat is taken out. Sometimes people are counted, and sometimes each person's hands, so that you are only safe once both hands have been removed from the circle. The sequence is repeated until there is only one person left.

Eenie meenie macaraca
Rare raa dominaca
Knikerbocka lollypoppa
Om pom push


One 'game' we did, more like a party thing, was Pass the Ring. A ring was thread on to a piece of string and tied into a circle. Everyone sat in a circle and held on to this string with both hands. The Ring on the string had to be passed from one hand to another without the one person chosen to sit out could see it. It involved moving your fists backwards and forwards all the time to try and confuse the poor person in the middle.

My father used to put a matchstick in his hanky (clean one - I hope!), fold it in a certain way and then ask us to break the matchstick inside the hanky - which was easy! But when he opened it up, the matchstick was whole! Trick was he put another matchstick in the hem of the hanky and the folding was carefully done so that that was the one we broke. It was always a Christmas party trick.

And did anyone else have their grandfathers making a mouse out of a hanky and making it jump? A very good friend of ours did this for my own children many years ago, and told an entire story about the mouse going to bed, and being wrapped in a blanket and tucked in and sleeping and then he would secretly flick it with his thumb while stroking it gently! I've tried, but I can't remember how to make that mouse!

In 2005, I went back to Matlock County Junior School grounds after being away for 30 years or so and was surprised to find the grounds so small!!!! I remember playing elastic - the ring of elastic between two people and a series of jumps on, off, across etc, at ankle height, knee height, waist height and even neck height - which I don't think I ever got!
Rose Kelland London

Rose, thank you for reminding me that my Dad used to do this [make a mouse] for me when I was quite little! I had totally forgotten this!
Judy McCoy, Calfornia

If you go to google and type in "handkerchief mouse" it directs you to a video showing exactly how to do it.
How to fold and work a handkerchief mouse
Happy folding.
Sheila Turton, Mirfield


We had similar in the Midland, but these days very un PC

Eeny - meeny - miney - mow - catch - a - ni--er - by - his - toe - if - he - squeals - let - him - go - eeny - meeny - miney - mow.

We collected fag packets and spin them upto a wall.

The foil top of the milk school milk bottle, if removed with care, one finger inside te flange, the next finger outside, then flick fingers and it would spin and fly.

Foggy nights was tracking, one or two with chalk would mark a trail, the rest followed, like a paper chase.

Trolley racing, fire cans, throwing arrows, throwing knife making ( do not ask how ) red apple, I think the rest of the games we had would be a total no no today.
Brian KINDER Derbyshire

The majority of the games still seem to have been for boys, well I was never a boy and we girls used to collect the cardboard milk bottle tops, wrap wool around until the centre hole was filled up, then cut round the outside, wrap a piece of wool round and hey presto you had a pompom.
Jean Perrin


What about making a 'slide' across the playground when there was a real heavy frost! Virtually everyone in the school used to 'help' make it, gradually extending it through use. Great fun until someone from the staff would sprinkle salt over it.

Then there's Conkers (seasonal), Cigarette cards... hours of harmless fun. Nowadays the kids don't have any imagination and need to be entertained instead of making their own fun.
Mike Fry Johannesburg.


I went to a Co-Ed boarding school in Cyprus (ages 5 to 14). We certainly played marbles with the boys...I loved the fact that the boys always had holes in their pockets, you could pick up a nice trail of marbles and once I'd got about 5 or 6 I was well away, beat all the lads and ended up with over 100 marbles...oh, how I loved those marbles especially the really pretty "Japs". Yes, we played hopscotch and so did the boys.

I think, however, John is looking for "Party games" that can be played indoors and I'm wondering whether there will be any girls there. How about a Beetle drive? All ages can join in that....gran included! You can't do French Knitting or play marbles at a Christmas Party.
Liz Newbury


I will just say "spuds"
One potat'a, two potat'a, three potat'a ... four .....etc
Fruit stall (cannot remember how but a playground game)
Tig' (of various sorts)
Off ground, swing, chain, roundabout etc
Blind mans bluff
Marbles of course
French Cricket
British Bulldog
And yes the third of a pint, peeking out the top in the winter (cos it was frozen in the playground)
Skipping, hoopla and hop scotch for girls of course
Now if I could only remember how to play them
Nivard Ovington Cornwall


Yes, with the metal jacks and a rubber ball. I seem to think it consisted of bouncing the ball and then picking up jacks and the ball, before it bounces a second time??

Five stones (to distinguish it Fives, a racket-less Public School ball game) I remember too.

Phil Warn


We also played "Memories" where 15 items were put on a tray, you could look at them for 2 minutes, the tray was put away and you then had to write down all the things that were on the tray.

"Advertisements"...adults liked that. You'd cut out advertisements from magazines and remove the name of the product. They would be pinned up around the room. You went around and tried to remember what the adverts were. Gosh, how memories come flooding back. Kids don't seem to play these games today, isn't it a shame.

Blindfold someone and have a tray with spices or drinks on, they have to sniff them and/or sip and decide what they all are!!
Liz Newbury


I played some of those and I am a female! have a unisex game of Hopscotch then! knuckle games... had fun with that game at the all girls school!

Cats cradles.. remember them!

skipping rope games, best of all I liked was climbing trees.. perhaps I should have been born a lad!
Adele Pentony-Graham


.....I was born in Carlton, Nottingham.

The girls use to 'whizzes' from the cardboard tops of milk bottles. We coloured them with our crayons to make the prettiest one and ...put the string over our hands and twist it right up then pull out and let it go in again to see whose would go the longest.

Whip and tops and once again we would colour them with dazzling colours.

We would also play 'film stars', chose your favourite one and pretend you were her and get chalk and draw 'houses' on the roadway (not many cards in those days) and try to out do everyone else.
Joan Matthews


Girls' games.

Fifty years ago (+) in New Zealand, girls used to play "knuckle bones" - which I think may be called "Fives" in other parts of the world. (Ones, twos, threes, fours, fives, etc; through the arch, horses in the stable, jumps, over the wall etc. Have forgotten the rest). To my shame (at the time), I never had any commercially made "knuckle bones" (nice and small, and a good weight) - but had the real thing from the Sunday roast. They were much bigger (but lighter in weight), and for small hands made the game much more difficult!

At school we played a game where we all lined up with one person out in front who would call a letter from the alphabet. If you had that letter in your name you took one step forward; if it was one of your initial letters you took two steps. The person who got to the front first then took over as the caller. (Of course everybody tried to call the less commonly used letters, such as "u" which I always hoped for. I got to take three steps on that: two for an initial and one for an additional letter, in my middle name).

We also played "film stars", where again everybody lined up, with one person out in front. The caller would yell out a pair of initials - eg "KN". If you said "Kim Novak" and got it right, it was your turn to go out front as caller.

We also played hopscotch, skipping, rounders (a simple game in the baseball / softball genre) and probably plenty more which I've forgotten, and sometimes "Kim's game" (memory test) in class.

There was no TV in NZ until 1960, so no advertising aimed at kids, who made their own entertainment. Even so, my mother always used to say how lucky and spoiled we were compared with her and her brothers and friends. She always said she had to use pebbles for an imaginary dolls' tea-service.

Those were the days....... :-)
Blanche Charles Wellington, New Zealand


Many of the games mentioned so far are for outdoors. How about Party Games. Fifty years ago we played Beetle; Spin the plate; Treasure Hunt; Pass the parcel; Musical chairs; Housey Housey (now Lotto or Bingo); Charades etc. etc.

`Spin the plate` had everyone sitting in a circle whilst a plate spun in the centre. When your name was called out you had to get to it before it stopped spinning or you were `on`. As I transcribe all the Marys & Johns in Glossop registers I wonder how they managed to play games like these as when a name was called the whole circle would have stood up!

A Merry Christmas to all
Marjorie Ward Derbyshire


What memories those replies conjure up but no-one has mentioned cowboys and injuns or any of the family party games
Blinds mans bluff
My friends chair
Pin the tail on the donkey
Hide and seek
Man (or woman) and his object
Squeak piggy squeak plus the ones from Marjorie which has just arrived
Michael Allbrook


There are rather a lot when you start to think about it (which I hadn't for rather a long time)
A few more, some may not be suitable for your Christmas day though
One more way to decide who was "on" or "it" = Paper, scissors, rock
Hide & seek
Poddy 1, 2, 3
Kiss chase
Whats the time Mr Wolf
Simon says
Knuckles (two players make fist, put knuckles together standing opposite each other, the object being to remove your fist lightning quick and rap the back of the opponents hand before they had a chance to take it out of harms way) perhaps not suitable for after Xmas dinner
Nivard Ovington Cornwall


Am attaching some of the games which we used to play when my family and other relatives joined up at Christmastime. Also, I am of an age to say that we played them 50yrs ago!!

Hope they will be of some use. Do contact if you need further clarification.

Marion Richson

Ring on a string
All participants seated in a circle holding, with two hands, on to a circle of string large enough to cater for the whole group. Loose on the string is a ring (curtain or otherwise). The ring is then moved along the string passing from one hand to the other and on to the next person who does likewise. All this is done as "secretly" as possible in order to make it as difficult as possible for some poor soul who stands in the middle of the circle trying to pounce on the hand that holds the ring. Once detected the one who was "caught" has to be in the middle.

If you are allowed to take a card game then take PIT. Interestingly enough it was mentioned in a Daily Telegraph article the other day as being an old favourite..

This is a form of Musical Chairs. Each participant is given the name of a fish. A leader has a list of all the fish and as he/she trots round the assembled chairs (back to back in two rows) on which participants are sitting, he calls out the name of a fish eg plaice, at which the person given that name trots after him. This procedure continues until about 6 folk are trotting behind the leader. One chair has already been removed from the starting line-up so that when the leader shouts SEAL all the trotting fish have to hurry in clockwise direction to find a seat. The one without a seat is then out of the game. This procedure is repeated until only one usable chair is left (two unusable are left as markers to make a distance to run round) and a winner is gained.

All participants sit in a circle. Within the circle place a tray on which is a bar of chocolate, a knife and fork plus jacket and gloves plus hat (according to feelings on hygiene). Someone walks within the circle with a tray on which are two dice. They present the tray to each person in turn and whenever a participant shakes two sixes, he/she dashes to the table, puts on the clothing and begins to cut at the chocolate. He/she can eat one piece at a time but may only have put on one glove before another person shakes two sixes and grabs at the clothing etc. and the first person returns to their place. This continues for as long as sensible, replenishing choc when necessary.

This is my friend's chair
The whole party is divided into two groups, preferably a mixture of adults and children. To begin, one group leaves the room. Each one of the group staying in the room then chooses one of the outside group as a "friend" and needs to have an empty chair or arm of chair beside them on which their "friend" could sit. Taking it in turns, one of the group from outside enters the room unaware as to who has chosen them as his/her friend. Whilst they are trying to guess, the inside group keep patting the chair beside them and keep singing "this is my friend's chair, this is my friends chair". The chooser then sits somewhere and if they have chosen the right chair, everyone cheers and they stay put but if wrong everyone boos (pleasantly!) and the person has to go out to try again (when its his/her turn) but must not tell the rest of the group which chair they tried. This goes on until everyone is united with their "friend". Then, the groups change over and procedure is repeated as with first group. Doesn't sound as good as it is and apart from being a family party favourite, my class of Juniors loved it.

Who stole the tarts?
Group forms a circle, someone in the middle is blindfolded and holding a torch. The lights are put out and those in the circle hold hands and move round humming or singing la-la. We always seemed to sing the same tune each Christmas but don't know its title just peculiar to my family I guess. After only a minute the person in the middle shouts "STOP, WHO STOLE THE TARTS" and at the same time shines the torch. Whoever the torch lights on has to reply, in a disguised voice, "I DIDN'T STEAL THE TARTS". If the blindfolded person guesses who answered they change places otherwise the procedure is repeated.


I have attached an article I wrote for the DFHS magazine a few years ago about games we played as children in the 50s. They were more outdoor games and usually were banned after a time by the headmaster as too many pupils were injured.
Hope you find it interesting.
Graham Freeman Göteborg, Sweden

Childhood games and pastimes
by Graham Freeman (member 1972)

I began thinking of the games we played as children in the forties and fifties and realised that many of them are unknown to children today in the age of Game Boy and Nintendo. It seems a pity that games that children have played for generations have disappeared or will soon be forgotten. I wonder how many readers remember these games.

Rum-stick-a-bum (or Rummy as we called it.)
The participants divided themselves into two teams after which one team tossed a coin to see which team was the one that was down. One of this team, the pillar, stood against a wall. The next member of the team put his head between the pillars legs and held onto his thighs. The next member of the team put his head between this participants legs and held on and so on until the whole team was down (diagram 1).

The other team then jumped onto the backs of the first team in an attempt to make them collapse. (Diagram 2). If they did, team A was down again. If not, the last jumper in team B put up either a finger or a thumb and said "Rum-stick-a-bum, finger or thumb?" and the first player in team A had to guess which. If he guessed right the teams changed places, if not team A was down again.

The boy who lost at "eeny-meeny-miny-mo" was the unfortunate who had to bend down so that the other participants could leap over him. This he did after choosing another boy as "marker." You tried to choose a "marker" who was a good jumper as he needed to take fewer steps than the other participants before leaping. The others would hopefully, fail to get over "it" as the distance from where they leapt was too far from the boy bending down. A line was drawn on the playground and the boy who was "it" bent down on the line with his head tucked into his shoulders and holding onto his legs for support. The marker leapt over him by running, putting his hands on the back of "it" and leaping over. "It" moved to where the marker had landed. The marker then said how many steps you could take from the starting line before leaping. The other participants then leapt over the boy who was "it". If they all succeeded then the marker took a new leap and said how many steps could be taken before leaping. This continued until someone failed to leap over "it". This person then became the new "it" from the starting line.

Two lines were drawn across the playground. One player was chosen as the "cock" and stood in the middle of the field between the two lines. The other boys (girls didn't play these games) stood behind one of the lines. On the signal from the cock the players hopped on one foot with arms folded over to the other line. The cock, who also hopped on one leg with his arms folded, tried to knock the others over by hopping and bumping into them. If you came over to the other line you were safe. The first boy to lose his balance was the next cock.

The boy who was "it" chased the other boys. If he managed to touch or "tag" another boy they joined hands and both chased the others. After a while there was a whole chain of boys chasing the ones who were left. This continued until everyone was "tagged". The first boy to be "tagged" was the next "it".

Owing to a number of accidents, several with broken bones, the above games were all banned by the headmaster.

This was an autumn pastime when the horse-chestnuts had fallen. We threaded a string through a horse-chestnut. One boy then held the end of the string with the conker hanging down and the other boy would attempt to hit it by swinging his conker downwards on his string. If he hit the other conker he had a second try and so on until he missed or the hanging conker broke. If he missed it was the other boy's turn to try and hit the second boy's conker. We counted the number of conkers that every conker destroyed. Some boys cheated a bit by marinating or roasting their conkers so that they became harder and tougher.

Whip and top
Are there whips and tops in the shops today? This was something that we began with on Shrove Tuesday. A T-shaped top and a whip. This type of top was known as a window-breaker as it would fly through the air if you weren't careful.

Another pastime that I haven't seen much of is "snobs". As I remember you threw five stones into the air and caught as many as possible on the back of your hand. You then tossed them into the air again from the back of the hand and caught all of them in the normal way. If you dropped one it was the next players turn. The ones you caught were put on one side. You then had to throw the "dobber" (a round stone) into the air and then attempt to pick up one of the stones which was left and then catch the dobber before it reached the ground. If you succeeded then you went on to the next round which was the same except that you had to pickup two stones at the same time, then three, then four. If the stones were spread out you had to knock them together while the "dobber" was in the air. This is as far as I got. There were other moves which I have forgotten and would be pleased to hear from anyone who remembers more moves.

Nowadays children collect idol pictures while we collected cigarette-cards. The aim was, of course, to collect a whole series by exchanging them. We skimmed them into a corner between two walls and if you covered one of your opponents cards with one of yours you won the lot.

Then there were other pastimes, such as marbles and making "bombs" from nuts, bolts, match - heads and "caps" (the type you bought on a ribbon and used in toy guns). These were positively lethal and I don't think that they were things to be remembered. (They were also banned because they were lethal!).

The games and pastimes I have described were played by boys. I don't remember so much about the games that girls played. There was skipping, of course, with lots of intricate movements and ball-games. Perhaps someone else can write about girls´ childhood games and pastimes.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who remembers other games and pastimes from the forties and fifties (or earlier). My e-mail address is g.freeman[at]glocalnet.net


Postman's Knock
I have yet to hear of any putting the above game forward. I played it at a number of Derbyshire birthday parties in the late 50s. The rules were a trifle uncertain but basically involved the drawing of lots in single sex groupings. Who ever was chosen from each pairing had to meet in a separate room in the dark for a minute or pay a forfeit. I seem to remember there was a good deal of cheating so most kissed the partner they fancied! Anyone else out there played it?
Barbara Winder

We played it at all the parties when I was young - that would be in the 1950's. I recall playing a more advanced version in my late teens but we won't go there.
Paul Eggleton


Kayli was certainly in every day use in Leicestershire, pronounced Kay-lie You used to be able to get all different colours, usually bought in a paper twist (like the corner of a small paper bag). We had a tiny sweet shop called "Craggs" with all manner of delights, (when you could afford them) it was about six foot by ten at a rough guess, three customers filled it
Nivard Ovington Cornwall

Kaylie - yes! In yellow paper tube packets, with a liquorice stick - 3d. a time! Wouldn't mind one right now whatever the calories / additives. Various spellings on the web - including cail-eye. Interesting write up at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/local_studies/do_you_remember/
Vic Brocklehurst

Yes, we all loved Kayli in Worksop in 1947 when I was 7. But we had a game where we made 'Kayli' and sold it in a 'shop'. We got a red brick and ground some of it down to a red powder. The powder was placed in a twist of paper, and sold over the 'counter' in the 'shop' as 'Kayli' for 'money'. The money was small bits of rusty metal found in the ground, the shop was loose bricks layed out to show the walls of the shop, the counter was a wooden box or similar. Well, this is just learning by imitation of adults. Then I looked at "Children's Games" painted by Pieter Breugel in 1560. There is exactly the same game, except that the girl has a pair of scales. That's 448 years, about 15 generations ago, gives me goosebumps! See the game I mean on this webpage, I've called it 'Shopkeepers', but I should have called it 'The Kayli Shop'
John Palmer, Dorset, England

Thank you, John, for starting this interesting topic.
In Chesterfield, visiting relations, the stuff in the paper cone was always Kay Lye, as you said, but I don't know how it was spelt. At home, in Kent, it was just called lemonade powder. Not to be confused with sherbet, which was similar, but didn't have the exciting flavour.
Joy Hungerford

We never knew how, or bothered how it was spelt, as long as the little sweet shop had a jar, there was yellow and rainbow versions, came in a little shaped bag 1/2 a pennies worth. In Walsall there were two sweet shops you could watch them make the sweets. The funny thing from my childhood was that I had a Derby accent till I was about 12, though I had never lived there, gained from my father. This week I was told I had a Derby accent again by a stranger, looks like 50 years on and further from Derbyshire now ( Cornwall ) I have it coming back.
Brian KINDER Derbyshire

Ah Yes Novard....it was KAYLIE for me too. We used to get the strong hard Spanish/licorice about four inches long and narrow to dip into the kayli.I am salivating as I write as the memory is so vivid. We frequented a little shop called 'Little Florries' where you could buy coltsfoot rock, imps or nigroids, twisted barley sugar sticks, chloridine lozenges, licorice root and gelatine lozenges.. All available today except I have never found the gelatine lozenges ???? They were wonderful flat things the size of a halfpenny and I was 8 years old sucking away on one watching The Wizard of Oz with my big sister at the local 'pictures' when the lozenge got stuck on the roof of my mouth and one great 'hoik' sent it flying through the air onto the lady in front who was wearing a large brimmed hat with a feather in it and yes it stuck there. My sister was furious with me and we had to leave. Never did know the outcome of 'Dorothy'. Aaah Happy days.
PS If anyone DOES come across any 'gelatine lozenges' please e mail me I have a tad more decorum these days.
Sheila Turton, Mirfield

I don't know what Kay Lye was. I lived in Iraq as a child having moved from Chesterfield in 1949 and we didn't really have sweets there...probably just as well! However, once I was sent home to boarding school I spent some of my holidays up in Keighley at my cousin's. Opposite their back-to-back was the school and we spent a lot of time playing cowboys and Indians with the other local kids. Unfortunately they couldn't understand my accent...or lack of it! One thing I particularly remember was my cousin going to the Co-op next door and she would buy sticks of "Spanish". I tried one and didn't like it, they were really strong. It's a "sweet" that I've never come across anywhere except the North of England and I don't even remember seeing it in Chesterfield. I loved "Bonfire Toffee"...not found in the South. What sweets were there in Derbyshire that might have been peculiar to the area? I recall lovely triangular shaped Walls Ice lollies and I particularly liked the green ones....how much were they? 3d. each?
Liz Newbery

I remember Kali (?) from my Nottingham childhood - it was a form of sherbet I believe. Sharp and effervescent and was also in the middle of sherbet lemon sweets - as you say when you bit them in half your tongue curled and your hair stood on end... Also remember the halfpenny frozen fruit juice lollies - you could suck the colour out of them and be left with a clear ice lolly. Licorice root, tiger nuts, gobstoppers, aniseed balls, licorice in various shapes and lengths.
Mavis Johnson

Thanks for compiling that list, it has had Patricia and myself reminiscing. Great idea to put it together. I can only remember "Beech Nut " chewing gum, where you got packets of four pieces from a machine for a penny or two, and every fourth coin you got an extra packet of Beech Nut. You tried to make sure your mate spent three pennies before you put in your coin to get the extra chewing gum. That is if you remembered where the fourth penny was lined up to. Spanish Gold, sold in bright red waxy cartons the shape of a treasure chest. Coconut I think it was. Magical taste.
Mike Spencer

We used to have kayli in Lancashire 40/50 years ago. You can still get it, although now called Rainbow Crystals. Try this link www.sweetsncandy.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=RAICRY317
Ian Rhodes


Man and his object 2 leave the room. The rest pick a man and his object. Churchill and cigar for example. The two return and have to ask questions to find out who/what they are. Questions have yes or no answers Donkey The best of all. Sit round a table, say 8 people and spread 6 corks along the middle. Deal cards so that the potential is 4 cards for each player of the same number. Each person passes one card simultaneously to the left (one person calls Pass). When the first person has 4 cards of the same number, they grab a cork and then it's a free for all. Each person loses a life who does not have a card. Thus earning a letter from Donkey and you play till there is only one person left. Up-jenkins
Everyone leaves the room, one male returns and has to describe his partners clothing
Michael Allbrook

Another pastime was to wind raffia round milk bottle tops and to join the completed ones to form a place mat. Also we crocheted and knitted squares to form larger blankets, some of which were sent to hospitals or childrens' homes during the War. We used to have one ready to cover us when taken from our warm beds and brought downstairs during air raids. Our shelter in the garden always had water in it so my parents would set up a card table in front of the fire and do jigsaws until the All Clear. If we were awake we would also help - I can remember the scenes on those jigsaws today.
Mavis Johnson

A similar game popular at School/Guide parties was to bring a photograph of yourself as a child to be pinned on the board and the others would have to guess who it was.
Mavis Johnson


Gordon BARKES writes 23jun2012:
These are my recollections of the game of SNOBS.

Usually played by boys sat on the pavement with their feet in the gutter. Cars were a rareity in my childhood. I am 76 yrs old born 1935.

The game started with 1's,2's,3's, and 4's,followed by scrapes, snatches, chairs, chimnies (or stacks) and finally stables.
The above sequence is as I remember and there could have been other tasks.

1's start with all 5 snobs in the palm of one hand (left or right).
With care the snobs are thrown up into the air and hopefully caught on the back of the same hand.Assuming that all or some are caught on the back of the hand these are again thrown up to be caught in the palm.
If all are dropped it is your opponents turn.
If all are caught repeat the procedure for 2's,3's and 4's.
When some but not all are dropped, one of those caught is thrown up, (the others placed to one side): while the thrown snob is in the air, one of those on the floor is picked up (same hand) finally catching the one in the air. Repeat until all those dropped are picked up.(For 2,s pick up 2,3,s pick up 3 and 4,s pick up 4).
If those on the floor are spaced far apart it is allowed to throw one snob in the air at the same time (same hand) flicking one or more closer to make it easier to pick up 2 or more in one move.

SCRAPES. Start by dropping or casting all 5 snobs on the floor.To close or to far comes with experience. Your opponent then picks one for you to use to throw up. This choice is to make your task more difficult.
The rest is same as 1's,2's etc but without flicking the ones on the floor into an easier position. You scrape those on the floor as they fell.

CHAIRS. Place 4 snobs on the floor in a small square approx.8"/9" apart. The remaining one is thrown in the air, pick up one of 4, catch the one thrown ; keeping one in the hand throw up the other, sweep the space where the one was placed, catch the one thrown ; again throw one up, replace the other in original place, and catch the one thrown.
The words "Pick up the chair, sweep under, put it back" are usually chanted during the actions.
The above is repeated for the other 3.
Finally while the one in hand is thrown, the 4 chairs are scraped up in one movement, and the one thrown is caught.

CHIMNIES (stacks). This one is a little vague. As I remember; with 2 in the hand, 1 is thrown in the air, the other is placed on the ground and the one thrown caught. Again with 2 in the hand, 1 is thrown in the air, the other is placed on top of the first. This is repeated for the other 2.
With a stack of 4, the one in hand is thrown in the air, the stack of 4 is picked up as one, and the one thrown is caught.

STABLES. With none throwing hand make a "spider" (thumb & 4 finger tips touching the floor). Place one snob between each gap. With a series of careful throws & catches, flick each snob between the gaps into the space under the hand. If any go too far, carry on throwing and flicking until all are under the hand. When all are in place remove the "spider", throw up the one in hand and scrape up the 4 on the floor in one move.

The above is the best as I can remember except that when one became too expert the weaker hand was used.


The majority of the games still seem to have been for boys, well I was never a boy and we girls used to collect the cardboard milk bottle tops, wrap wool around until the centre hole was filled up, then cut round the outside, wrap a piece of wool round and hey presto you had a pompom.

Jean Perrin


We used to have kayli in Lancashire 40/50 years ago. You can still get it, although now called Rainbow Crystals. Try this link http://www.sweetsncandy.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=RAICRY317

Ian Rhodes

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