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Page last updated at 12:53 GMT, Friday, 28 January 2011
Yorkshire game of 'knurr and spell' rediscovered for TV
Playing knurr and spell
The game was very popular in Yorkshire, attracting large crowds

The secrets of a long-forgotten but once hugely popular Yorkshire game are to be revealed on TV thanks to staff at Huddersfield's Tolson Museum.

Knurr and spell used to attract huge crowds in the 18th and 19th centuries, with winners awarded big cash prizes.

With the game now virtually unknown, the BBC's Countryfile team recently visited Huddersfield to rediscover it.

Presenter Julia Bradbury joined a group of knurr and spell enthusiasts to re-enact the game as it was once played.

The game, which is said to be a little like golf, was at one time played all over Yorkshire.

The spell was a wooden frame which was stuck into the ground with spikes.

Attached to it was a spring-loaded cup in which the knurr, a wooden or pottery ball, was placed.

Players would use a bat try to hit the ball after it was released from the spring-loaded cup, the aim being to hit it as far as possible.

Records show games were sometimes attended by around 800 spectators - many of whom bet on the outcome.

Stuffed dog

Julia Bradbury and the Countryfile team came to Huddersfield after they discovered that the Tolson Museum had original knurr and spell equipment in its collection.

The museum also owns a stuffed dog which, when alive, would have retrieved lost knurrs.

Tolson Museum collections officer Chris Yeates said he was pleased that Julia and the team had paid a visit to find out more about the game.

"It goes to show how such objects, once familiar to many in this part of the country, could easily be considered unimportant and be disposed of," he said.

"And it shows how important museums are for preserving that heritage and being able to continue the story and tell it to future generations."

Knurr and spell set
The knurr and spell set is one of the Tolson Museum's 'top ten' objects

Chris said Julia Bradbury was intrigued by this traditional Yorkshire sport.

He explained to her that changing farming practices and the death of traditional industries were responsible for its disappearance.

He said: "It certainly made a change from the more workaday aspects of the job.

"It is good that unique objects in our care will be seen by millions on peak-time television."

Knurr and spell will feature on BBC One's Countryfile on Sunday, 30 January at 7pm.




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