The Ladies at Tinsley Green

In April 2011 my friend Debra Stanley Lapic emailed me link to an American newspaper, The Day dated 30th March 1970 which ran an article ‘woman not allowed to play marbles’ because they were over weight. I looked at it and decided to research it a bit more and find out what went on in the 1970s.


I uncovered some old newsreel footage from 1941 showing a team of ladies playing marbles at Tinsley Green, after the game some Canadian soldiers came over and congratulated them with hugs. So it would seem that women had taken part in the game and had not only helped with administration work.

Mrs Burbridge made the draw for many years and her daughter Silvia and also Barbara Langridge had taken their turn helping with the secretarial work.

On hand to present prizes in the early day and in the 1950s and 60s were a host of local and national celebrities including: -
Mrs Uffham, Miss Joyce, Dawn White, Janet Brown, Julie Bishop, Elizabeth Larner and Carole Shelley

In 1939 Dawn White presented a shield for the winners of the junior championship, which was played for up until the mid 1970s when it went missing – if any one knows of its whereabouts I would love to find it again.


Greyhound barmaid circa 1946

In March 1955 it was rumoured that the infamous ‘Lady Docker’ was going to bring a team of female factory workers to play at Tinsley Green. The story was that on February 25th Lady Docker had demonstrated the game on television, and on March 3rd she was due to captain a team of girls in a game at Castleford in Yorkshire.

She had then set her sights on the World Championships at Tinsley Green. George Burbridge spent many hours sorting it all out and had banned her from playing, saying that they would not be allowed to play, as the game play in Yorkshire is more like skittles than marbles.

In the end it had all came to nothing, but it did give the national press many good stories and hours of reporting.

Then in the swinging 60s Hilary Brock a student came to Tinsley looking for material for her college thesis on children’s games. She was told to see the organiser George Burbridge but not to mention ‘children’ or ‘games’. As he had spent so many years telling anyone who would listen that that marbles was a sport for men and not a children’s game.

On the day of the 1963 championships there was a demonstration by a team of 6 girls who wanted to play, at the start of the championships,’ they paraded with posters that read ‘We want to play marbles’ and ‘Let women join in the game’. 16-year-old Linda Jones from nearby Gossops Green said, “We couldn’t even find the championships organisers to ask if we could play.” After about half an hour of walking about with the placards the girls left.

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