Friday, 5 March 2021

Rescuing the Oldest Game I Own - Belisha (1937)

A few years back a good friend (and fellow bargain hunter) bought me a Christmas Gift of two copies of an old card game game at an antiques fair in Covent Garden. 

Sadly, one of them was missing two cards and so I rescued it from oblivion.

Belisha - The "Safety First" Card Game

Published way back in 1937 by Castell Brothers Ltd (1878-1983) under the "Pepys" series of games.  Belisha is a reimplementation of popular card game Rummy.  The name "Belisha" was borrowed from the iconic Belisha Beacon introduced to UK roads in 1934 by then Minister of Transport the Rt.Hon Leslie Hore-Belisha.

Belisha - The Safety First Card Game (1937)
Belisha - The Safety First Card Game (1937)

  A Game of Thrill

"All the family can play this new and entertaining game. Young and old alike. will find in it many a new thrill and many a valuable lesson, for 'Belisha' teaches the ever-valuable and all-important doctrine of 'Safety First'. 

Played on the same familiar lines as 'Rummy' with new and ingenious variations. 'Belisha' is a game of many interests. As the game proceeds the players are taken on a tour of England and Scotland from London to Oban: many of the cards bearing beautiful pictures in colour of famous beauty spots.

Belisha Card Game Advertisements
Belisha Card Game Advertisements

Each card bears in the top left-hand corner a familiar safety first symbol; some cards illustrate the dangers of the road; some show how accidents may be avoided. 

There's a touch of humour, a smattering of geography, a new method of teaching 'Safety First' and a heap of fun. 'Belisha' is a game that should be played in every home, for it has the merits of a family or party game with the added attraction of demonstrating again and again the way to ensure road safety for all."

Safety First, the birth of RoSPA and the Tufty Road Safety Club.

Tufty Club Badge
The "Safety First" campaign can trace its heritage back to 1916 and the founding of the London Safety First Council.  A public meeting was held due to an increase in road traffic accidents involving motor vehicles and the reduction in street lighting to aid "blackout" during WWI.  Their first campaign which encouraged people to walk on the pavement on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic reduced pedestrian deaths by 70%.

In 1941 the NSFA patron the Duke of York became King George VI he wished to continue his patronage and RoSPA was born.

I first encountered RoSPA, like many of my generation, when having to perform my bicycle safety exam as a child in the 1970s.   

The Tufty Road Safety Club had been around since the early 50s and I distinctly remember having to negotiate a mock road course which had been det up in my school playground.  Getting your Tufty Club badge was a seminal achievement back in my day.  

Tufty and his woodland friends have been iconic champions of children's road safety education for decades and featured on many educational board games over the years.

Tufty Road Safety Boardgame (1970s)
Tufty Road Safety Boardgame (1970s)

A masterpiece of marketing before the advent of  Baby Shark, "do doo, dee doo, dee doo" he was rocking the hit parade with an album of nursery rhymes related to road safety. 

Fun times.

Bicycle Road Safety Training
Bicycle Road Safety Training and Belisha Beacons

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