Icons of England
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769 of 1157 nominations



Is this an icon?



Nobody really seems to know where the origins of this game lie. Some say it comes from the Middle Ages when bored soldiers would throw arrows at wine barrel lids. Others refer to a 19th-century game called Puff and Dart, which used a blowpipe to aim the dart. Either way, darts became increasingly popular in England in the 1920s and 30s as a pub game – and today, there are many who would argue that no self-respecting pub should be without a dartboard. Darts tournaments broke into TV in the 1960s, paving the way for players like Eric Bristow and Jocky Wilson to become household names.

Usually made from compressed sisal, dartboards have a special numbering sequence that punishes the inaccurate player. If you aim for a 20 and just miss, you’re likely to be rewarded with a measly 1 or 5. It’s said that a carpenter from Bury in Lancashire came up with the idea in 1896, but died in 1903 before he could patent it.

In June 2005, darts was officially recognised as a sport in the UK, after years of lobbying by the British Darts Association.


Your comments

Darts and the dartboard is to England what baseball is the United States. No one else, other than other the other British nations, play it to any great extent. It is synonymous with iconic English figures such as Eric Bristow. Even the cry itself of “One Hundreed and Eeee-ighty” only sounds right in a cockney or northern English accent. It was until recently an essential element of an English pub. If a foreigner asked to be given one place to see the essence of (one form of) Englishness, you could little better than to recommend them to take a trip - by National Express coach, is possible - to The Lakeside at Frimley Green or wherever the champtionship is taking place. It will soon become perhaps the best place in England to see men and women consumer large quantities of beer and tobacco in public.

Phil Thornton

Darts is currently very popular on tv, but seems to be disappearing from lots of pubs. I noticed www.saveourdarts.com is trying to reverse this trend and I for one, think this is a great campaign!
richard thomas



My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry