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UK for everyone: Cambridge pub darts

17:00 AEST Thu Jul 26 2007

Cambridge is an old English university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire. It is the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen and surrounded by small towns and villages.

Its renowned university includes Cavendish Laboratory, King's College Chapel and the Cambridge University Library. The chapel and library dominate the skyline, along with the chimney of Addenbrooke's Hospital to the south and St John's College Chapel tower to the north.

Often described as the only true university town in England, Cambridge is an extraordinary place, a city like no other in that it is almost completely dominated by that venerable institute of higher learning.

In 1209, students escaping from hostile Oxford fled to Cambridge and formed a university. Peterhouse, the oldest college still in existence, was founded in 1284. King's College Chapel was begun in 1446 by King Henry VI and completed in 1515 during King Henry VIII's reign. It is the city's trump card and its choir is world-renowned.

Although Cambridge is smaller than "the other place" (as Oxford is referred to) the university's influence has ensured that it is more architecturally unified and thus more aesthetically pleasing. It has a stunning mix of medieval buildings, elegant courtyards and expansive parklands.

As you would expect, there is a fair amount of rugby and cricket played in Cambridge — but the old pub game of darts is also extremely popular.

There is speculation that the game originated among bored soldiers throwing short arrows at the bottom of a cask or tree trunk. From the turn of the 19th century to WWII, darts grew in popularity. Regular leagues were organised and competitions took place on a regular basis. The most prestigious was organised by the News of the World newspaper in 1927. A National Darts Association was formed in 1954 and national championships begun. Today it would be hard to find a pub in Britain without a dartboard.

The survival of darts as a pub game can be fairly accurately dated. Throughout the Victorian period, legislation prohibited "games of chance" (ie gambling) in pubs. In 1908 a pub owner named Anakin in Leeds, Yorkshire, was taken to court for permitting darts to be played in his establishment. He offered to prove that darts was a game of skill.

A board was set up in the courtroom and Anakin threw three darts in the 20. He challenged any of the magistrates to duplicate his feat. When they could not (darts is, after all, not as easy as it looks!), the court was forced to accept that darts was indeed a game of skill, not chance, and the laws were eventually changed.

Thanks to landlord Anakin, the game flourished and is played and enjoyed around the world.


80km northeast of London.

For further information

The Jenny Wren
St Kilda Avenue
Cambridgeshire CB4 2QA
Tel: +44 1223 505036
Fax: +44 1223 505066

Ph: 1300 303 777

Visit Britain
Ph: 1300 858 589

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