Back early in the 1990’s Bernard Harvey redesigned the traditional Shove Ha’penny board in order to make it a more family orientated game. In recent years the game, which was a traditional pub game, had been declining with the advent of new style pubs with food and the need to ‘up their image for modern society’.
Not the best time you may think to introduce a new concept of a traditional game. However the pencilled board was tested out over the Christmas of ‘98 by his daughter, Katrina. The verdict was ‘a great game‘. After a false start, his youngest son, Alastair, who had made a prototype board with brass inlay, suggested using stringing. This wood inlay with a variety of patterns was to prove invaluable in later designs.
Bernard decided to use real ship ha’pennies, which were minted between 1937 and 1967 (except 1961 when for some obscure reason they didn’t mint any!). In doing so, he come up with the name for the game - Shipboard. Additionally it enabled him to offer coins with ‘years of the customer’s choice’. Possibly identifying a birth, anniversary or special date.
This was the first game he made and under the auspices of the company name ‘The Original Game Company’, the first four Shipboards were made and taken to the Festival of Wood at Westonbirt in August 1999. This was a three day show and to his delight they sold by the end of the second day! Luckily one customer agreed to leave it as an example in order to take orders.
The Shipboards are all numbered, and to date exceed 640. Over the last decade, the games and its components have been refined.
The company now also makes Nine Mans’ Morris, Mancala, One to Win, Back to Front, Cribbage boards, Bolting Rabbit, The Nail puzzle, Put n Take and has plans to extend the range the very near future.
It has always been the intention to maintain quality over quantity, in particular where possible to source materials from reputable sources. A lot of the games are made with oak, sourced from the Stourhead estate in Wiltshire. This is very acceptable in today’s environmental and social awareness who recognise Stourhead’s Western Estates management programme under the auspices of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).