Appendix 2: A note on prices

At a time when a miner’s daily wage was in the region of 4/- and the average working man might be earning somewhere in the region of 3d an hour, the 1870 entry fee of 10/- was substantial and evidently only the well-to-do could enter: only the very well-to-do could afford a late entry!

An informal survey of prices in the Times for theatre and concert seats, visits to Madame Tussaud’s, market prices for sheep and cattle and so on, shows that it is not too far off the mark to think in terms of a factor of 200 or so when considering the entry fees and the prize money on offer at tournaments, or the cost of having trophies made.

In fact we can be a little more formal than that: we may look at indices which measure changes in the cost of goods and services, or of spending power. In the last hundred years the first has risen by a factor of somewhere in the region of 100, while the second has risen by a factor of more like 500.

A hundred years ago travel was relatively expensive. First-class rail fares were approximately 2d per mile making the cost of the return trip between London and Edinburgh about £6,10/-. Captain Lister, coming from Newcastle, would have been spending about £2, and Miss Fenwicke, from Darlington, a little more. Today’s croquet players are less likely to travel first-class, but if they did they could, on some trains, make the journey from Newcastle and back for £35.

In the days of the Craiglockhart tournaments the fastest scheduled travelling time by rail from London to Edinburgh was almost twice the current time, at 8 hours 15 minutes. From Belfast it might have been a little less, as the boat train in conjunction with the Larne - Stranraer crossing had been running since 1885.

As far as accommodation is concerned, during the 1870s Moffat Hydropathic charged between £2,12/6d (two and a half guineas) and £3,3/- (three guineas) a week, depending on the room one stayed in. A week’s full board in the Edinburgh Hydropathic 30 years later was a little cheaper at £2,9/- (a guinea for three days). Nowadays comparable establishments charge about £400 a week. So today’s visiting player from Newcastle would be paying about ten times more for his accommodation than for his travel, whereas a century ago the costs were not dissimilar and about the same as the prize for winning the tournament, which was less at Craiglockhart than at Moffat, though not of course as little as it is now!

The cost of having the 1873 medal made was, as reported in the Scotsman, 15 guineas. The claret jug for the Open golf, made the same year, cost £30.