One of the exhibits in the museum at Milton Keynes which often comes in for comments such as – never heard of it – is Table Badminton.
The first record of table badminton that we can trace appeared in Lawn Tennis and Croquet, March 1901 – Whiff Whaff or Table Badminton is to appear shortly. That the game will prove immensely popular there is not the slightest doubt: indeed, considering what an excellent game table tennis is, it is surprising Badminton has not been adapted to the table before now. How wrong they were to be!!
It was in the 1930’s that this new game was being advertised as something to do while you waited to get on court. In 1935 a book was produced by E.E. Natali with foreword by Jack Hobbs the well known cricketer who was later knighted. We found inside our copy of this book a letter from St. James Palace addressed to Mr. Natali, dated October 15th, 1935 and signed by the Asst Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales recording that His Royal Highness was interested in the game which he thinks should be a good one.
The museum has two versions of the game in their collection of memorabilia, one in a cardboard box, labelled Arena Table Badminton, 25/- containing two racquets, two net posts, net and marking tape, shuttles and book of laws. The second (shown in our picture) is boxed in a leatherette travelling case with the same contents, but racquets are of a better quality, described as Arena Table Badminton priced 45/-
One of the major problems with the development of the game was being able to produce a shuttlecock that could be hit hard and not fly out of bounds.
A small piece of badminton history that was expected to take off and flourish, but in fact came and went very quickly – at present displayed in one of the museum’s cabinets if you want to want to know more!