History of Croquet in Roberts Park
In the William Gay 1870 plan of the park layout the 3 largest grassed areas on the upper terrace were designated as follows:-
West Lawn – Bowling
Central Lawn – Croquet (later the Bandstand Lawn)
East Lawn – Bowling
In 1870 lawn tennis did not exist, only it’s precursor “Real Tennis or Royal Tennis” existed, as played by medieval monarchs such as Henry the Eighth. Lawn tennis was codified in 1877 for the first event at Wimbledon.
The east and west lawns are a little small for the modern bowls game(s) and bowling activity in Saltaire has moved to Salts Club on the south bank of the river, north of the canal.
The East Lawn (rectangular) has also been used in the past for tennis. Lawns are difficult to maintain for tennis in the British climate and grass tennis lawns get little use through the year, so tennis activity in Saltaire is now on the 4 hard court tennis courts at Salts Club.
The central lawn area is a little small for a full size croquet lawn and a full size lawn would be impinged on by the footprint of the bandstand, which is not the original.
There is a copy of the William Gay 1870 layout of the park on display in the North Shelter.
The Salt family would appear to have been quite impressed by John Jaques II selling Croquet equipment at the Great Exhibition in 1851. At this time Titus junior would have been eight years old with 4 older brothers and 2 older sisters and his oldest brother 19 years old. Titus junior when he built his house Milner Field in 1869 at the west end of Higher Coach Road almost in what is now Gilstead he had a Croquet Lawn in the gardens. The only known remaining photograph of the Croquet Lawn appears on page 23 in the 2011 book “Milner Field, The Lost Country House of Titus Salt Jnr”
John Jaques manufactured a number of games products: had exclusive manufacturing rights for a chess set designed by Nathaniel Cooke in 1849 and named the Staunton chess set after Howard Staunton. This set later became the official international standard. Tiddledy-Winks – the first publishers starting in 1888. Snakes and Ladders – the first publishers starting in 1888. Table tennis – pioneered under the names Gossima and later Ping Pong. Happy Families – popular card game, developed in 1851. Ludo – patented in England 1897. Shove ha’penny – is a pub game in the shuffleboard family.
And Croquet – Jaques played an important role in popularising the game, producing editions of the rules in 1857, 1860, and 1864. By 1867, Jaques had printed 65,000 copies of his Laws and Regulations of the game. Exhibiting at the Great Exhibition 1851
Jaques of London to this day manufacture and sell Croquet equipment, the products listed above and more.