Learning through objects from the Islington Education Library Service’s handling collection

Marble Bridge Game, Tudor, Replica

This replica of an old children’s game has been made by Cyril Hobbins, Toymaker. Full details of the history of the game can be found in his book Traditional wooden toys; their history and how to make them, published by Stobart Davies 2007.

Cyril says that the earliest appearance he has found of this game is in a book about the Tudors. It shows a contemporary engraving of a group of adults playing with an elaborate bridge with at least eight numbered arches. It is also called Bridgeboard or Archboard.

The game can be made in a variety of designs but needs a basic structure of a board,with a minimum of five numbered arches, and a structure behind to catch the balls or marbles. It can be made in a simple form by cutting arches into an old shoe box. This one is a rather elaborate wooden structure with channels behind each arch to collect the marbles.

It is played with three people; one player, one referee to prevent cheating and one bridge keeper. The idea is to shoot the marbles at the arches from a distance. Those that do not go through an arch are taken by the bridge keeper. For every successful shot the bridge keeper pays the shooter the number of marbles corresponding to the number over the arch. The numbering system can be varied, e.g. starting from 0 in the centre and increasing outwards, or starting with 1 in the centre and going out in both directions (a seven arched bridge could be numbered 7, 5, 3, 1, 2, 4, 6). Each player has a turn at being bridge keeper. It requires simple maths and adding skills and is great fun to play.

Marble Bridge
Height:35cm Width:10cm
Marble Bridge
Height:35cm Width:10cm
Marble Bridge

This replica of an old children’s game has been made by Cyril Hobbins, Toymaker. Full details of the history of the game can be found in his book Traditional wooden toys; their history and how to make them, published by Stobart Davies 2007.

Cyril says that the earliest appearance he has found of this game is in a book about the Tudors. It shows a contemporary engraving of a group of adults playing with an elaborate bridge with at least eight numbered arches. It is also called Bridgeboard or Archboard.

The game can be made in a variety of designs but needs a basic structure of a board,with a minimum of five numbered arches, and a structure behind to catch the balls or marbles. It can be made in a simple form by cutting arches into an old shoe box. This one is a rather elaborate wooden structure with channels behind each arch to collect the marbles.

It is played with three people; one player, one referee to prevent cheating and one bridge keeper. The idea is to shoot the marbles at the arches from a distance. Those that do not go through an arch are taken by the bridge keeper. For every successful shot the bridge keeper pays the shooter the number of marbles corresponding to the number over the arch. The numbering system can be varied, e.g. starting from 0 in the centre and increasing outwards, or starting with 1 in the centre and going out in both directions (a seven arched bridge could be numbered 7, 5, 3, 1, 2, 4, 6). Each player has a turn at being bridge keeper. It requires simple maths and adding skills and is great fun to play.


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