Thursday, 20 August 2015

A Knur and Spell Match

From the Cleckheaton and Spenborough Guardian, 20th August 1915.


About 2,000 spectators attended the Armytage Arms Grounds, Clifton, on Saturday afternoon, the attraction being a striking match between B. Wilkinson, Cleckheaton, and M. Oldham, Liversedge, who met to play 25 rises each, with ½oz. pot knurs, for £40.  Both men used the spell.  Wilkinson conceded five yards start, and after a very close measure proved the winner by 8ft. 3ins., with a hit which measured 9sc. 2 yds. 1ft. 6ins.  Oldham’s best attempt measured 8sc. 19yds. 2ft. 3ins., which included his start.

[This is nothing to do with the War, but I couldn't resist including it, because it is such a gem of local history.  Knurr and spell was played in the north of England, but especially in Yorkshire.  The knurr was a small ball, in this case 'pot' or ceramic, which was thrown up in the air from spring-loaded gadget, and then hit by the spell, a sort of bat.   (A very particular sort of bat, with a whippy metal section in the middle and a small hardwood striking end, in the ones I have seen.)  The idea is just to hit the knurr as far as possible, as you can tell from this account.   I suspect that there was betting involved, though of course it is not mentioned by the reporter (because it would be illegal). 

It is all in imperial measurements, of course.  The ½oz. knurr weighs about 15 g.  The length is measured in inches, feet, yards and (I assume) chains - all familiar to me from primary school, where we had to do sums involving all these measures (though I haven't seen the abbreviation 'sc.' for chain before).   There are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, 22 yards in a chain.  And when I was 10, I would have been doing sums like the one involved here: 9sc. 2 yds. 1ft. 6ins.  -  8sc. 19yds. 2ft. 3ins.  But I can't get it to work out - the difference seems to me to be 14ft. 3ins., i.e. it's 2 yards adrift.  So maybe there's a misprint, or I wrote it down wrong, or I've misunderstood something or I can't do this kind of arithmetic any more or...... 

It does seems an odd way to play a match anyway - from 25 'rises' (i.e. hits) for each man, apparently only the longest counted.  And I don't know what 'both men used the spell' means - how else would they do it? ]


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