IN A week when games are whipped out of cupboards and enjoyed by families across the country, it is interesting to revisit an event that caught the attention of the Telegraph & Argus fifty years ago.

In October 1968 Bradford’s Lord Mayor lent a hand in trying to break the world tiddlywinks record.

Lord Mayor Alderman Arthur Walton, in a few ‘knuckle-flexing minutes’ gave a boost to what the city’s Junior Chamber of Commerce hoped would be a record-breaking week by joining in the youngsters’ attempt to claim the number one slot.

Helped by students from Hanson Grammar School, the junior chamber had already raised £500 in just three days - a whopping £10,577 in today’s money - to go towards creating playgrounds on housing estates in the city.

The paper reported how the students were trying to beat four records: ‘Six boys hope to succeed with more than 83 hours of non-stop flicking the wink to take the tiddledywinks title,’ it said, going on to describe how others would attempt more than 100 hours keeping a rocking chair on the move; some will take part in a marathon game of darts – 1,000, 101-up – ‘and six boys are having a go at breaking the ball bouncing record of 52 hours.’

As if this wasn’t fun enough for the young people, the paper also reports that the record-breaking attempts took place in an empty shop window at 57 Darley Street in Bradford.

No doubt the plucky young people were egged on - or maybe put off - by friends and family members looking in on them.

The T&A piece carried an amusing headline ‘83 Hours Flicking the Wink.’

Tiddlywinks date back to Victorian times. Bank clerk Joseph Assheton Fincher (1863-1900) filed the original patent application for the game in 1888 and applied for the trademark Tiddledy-Winks in 1889.

A form by the name of John Jaques and Son was the exclusive distributor, however competition was fierce and other versions soon appeared with different names including Flipperty Flop, Jumpkins and many others.

Played by adults and children, it became one of the most popular crazes of the 1890s.

The birth of the modern game can be traced to a group of undergraduates from the University of Cambridge. Meeting in January 1955, their aim was to devise a sport at which they could represent the university. Within three years Oxford University Tiddlywinks Society was formed, although the two universities had been playing matches since 1946.

In 1957, an article appeared in The Spectator entitled ‘Does Prince Philip cheat at tiddlywinks?’ Sensing a good publicity opportunity, Cambridge University Tiddlywinks Club challenged Prince Philip (later to become Chancellor of the University in 1976) to a tiddlywinks match to defend his honour. The Duke of Edinburgh appointed The Goons - Spike Milligan, Peter Sellars and Harry Secombe - to play instead. The Duke presented a trophy, the Silver Wink.

Many universities have since competed in the British Universities Championship.

In March 2008, there was a Royal Match in Cambridge to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original match. Cambridge repeated their victory.

During the 1960s as many as 37 universities were playing the game in Great Britain.

Helen Mead