Film ID:
YFA 998

OWER BIT BOG OIL

1963-1964

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is an entertaining film made by keen Yorkshire filmmaker Eric Hall about the local game of Knur and Spell.  It features many aspects of the game and has an accompanying commentary in a Yorkshire dialect. 

Title: Ower Bit Bog Oil Produced by J Eric Hall 

To the accompaniment of brass band music, the film begins with a road sign which says ‘Cowling.’  This is followed by a row of terraced houses along a steep street with a couple of women standing in the doorways and a man coming towards the camera on a pony.  A slightly comic commentary, one with a strong West Yorkshire accent, begins informing the viewer that Philip Snowden, the ex labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, was born in this town.  One of the women looks up at his name plaque on a house.   

Four men walk across a field to “go lakin knur and spell.”  As the game, or 'tippin', is being played, the commentary explains that it is a bit like, “poor man’s golf.”  He explains the rules and how it is played.  The game consists of hitting a small porcelain ball, the knur, with something resembling a golf club, the spell, as far as one can as it is suspended on a band hung from a cross piece of timber placed in the ground, a gibbet.  A group of men stand in the distance waiting for each numbered knurl to be hit.  Each is then marked with a flag.  Each player, tipper, has ten goes. 

The film shows how the balls are set up and how the tippers, some in clogs, mark out the ground from where they hit the knur.  After the knur has been hit, a couple of men rush out and shout at the seekers at the bottom of the hill telling them where the knurr has gone.  One shouts, “it’s ower bit bog oil,” and the commentary explaining, “that’s a right sloppy corner of the field.”  The film shows some ducks in the field and a group of people looking for the knurl.  More players hit the knur, and others put new heads on the spell using heated wax and string.  The face is then rubbed with resin to stop slipping when the knurr is hit. 

A woman is shown collecting and counting the money that was bet.  At the end of the game, the referee measures the distance of each shot.  A man stands by each shot point with a white flag to ensure that they are measured in a straight line, the last few feet using a tape measure.  The local bookie pays out the winnings, and the players go to the local pub, the Bay horse Hotel, “for a pint or two.”  The film finishes in the pub with a painting of a knur and spell match on the wall, and the commentator speculating that, “they will still be tipping for a hundred year from now.” 

The End.