The Games We Played: Childhood Board and Card Games celebrated at Mansfield Museum

By Richard Moss | 17 December 2012
a detail of the box for the board game On the Buses
They don't make them quite like this any more... On the Buses board game from the 1970s© Courtesy Mansfield Museum

Exhibition Preview: The Games We Played: Childhood Board and Card Games, Mansfield Museum, Mansfield, until February 2 2013

As we approach another festive season of plastic toys and expensive computer game-related gifts, the days when the humble board game was a mainstay  beneath the Christmas tree on Christmas morning seems far, far away.

But for those who remember simpler times when there seemed to be a board game for virtually every TV programme and every sport played in the UK, Mansfield Museum’s latest exhibition is the perfect pre-Christmas tonic.

Anyone remember the board game for the early seventies sitcom On the Buses - a simple board and dice affair that required you to get three passengers back to the Bus Depot to win?

It's just one of the forgotten "classics" lining up in this nostalgic look at some of the most popular games from the twentieth century together with a number of lesser-known board and card games from the 1920s through to the 1970s.

On the Buses was just one of many that appeared in the "golden age" of TV. Another example was the Z-Cars game, which cashed in on the popularity of the TV cop drama and involved a simple throw of the dice to trundle a plastic panda car across a board back to Police HQ.

Other games on show include Totopoly, made by Waddingtons in an attempt to repeat the success of Monopoly – this time for horse racing and betting; Eamonn Andrews’ Questo, an early Trivial Pursuit-style question and answer game, and Penalty, which came with a flimsy paper football pitch and a set of 52 cards allowing players to make tackles, take corners and, of course, take penalties.

Happily there are lots of games to try out in this feast of nostalgia, but the exhibition also makes the point that people have been playing board games since the dawn of civilisation; the earliest known complete gaming boards - dating from about 3000 BC - being found in the Royal Tombs of Ur in Iraq.  

But it was the 19th century and mass production methods that led to the rapid expansion in the games industry. From the late 1800s, colourful board games were being produced at a price that many people could afford and by the 1960s there were hundreds to choose from.

Now where did I put that dice...?

More pictures:

a photo of a board game and assorted board game boxes
© Courtesy Mansfield Museum
a photo of the box of the baord game Totopoly
© Courtesy Mansfield Museum
A photo of board game Totopoly with box art
© Courtesy Mansfield Museum
a photo of board games including the box for Eamonn Andrews Questo
© Courtesy Mansfield Museum
a photo of the box cover art for board game Rhymo Dominoes
© Courtesy Mansfield Museum
a photo of a board game with pieces resembling racehorses with jockeys
© Courtesy Mansfield Museum
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