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'Flip the Kipper' - a popular, cheap and fun
indoor game from times gone by

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The game and how it was played

Who the game is suitable for

A game for older girls, boys and adults to play together.

Equipment for playing 'Flip the Kipper'

• Old newspapers
• Scissors
• At least a 2 metre length of clear floor space

Although it can be fun to clear the floor space and cut out the shapes at the time, if the players should not use scissors or the party is more formal, the cutting can be done in advance.

The shape of a kipper showing that it is wider than an ordinary fish

Newspaper cut into the shape of a kipper which is wider than an ordinary fish.

The rough shape of a wide fish, 20-30 centi­metres long was cut out from news­paper, one for every player. The best way to do this was to fold sheets of newspaper together and cut through them, making several fish as the same time.

Then more sheets of newspaper were folded and rolled together to make fairly rigid 'flippers', rectangles about 30 by 50 centimetres: one flipper for each player.

Flipper made out of sheets of newspaper

Flipper made out of sheets of newspaper, hitting the ground to blow the kipper forwards.

The basis of the game was to use the flipper to bang the ground behind the kipper to make a movement of air to urge move the kipper forwards. The first person across a nominal finishing line was the winner.

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Why the game is worth playing

What it is really important to realise about this game is that onlookers and players alike enjoy it because they find themselves laughing.

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Why the name 'kipper'

The shape of a kipper showing that it is wider than an ordinary fish

The shape of a kipper showing that it is wider than an ordinary fish because it has been split open for smoking.

Why the name kipper you may ask? Kippers, i.e. smoked herrings, were well known in the past because they were cheap and nutritious. Also, because they were sold split open, which was how they had been smoked, they were wider than ordinary fish, which was a particularly suitable shape for this game.

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How to adapt the game for different numbers of players

With only a little floor space, players could play one at a time and how long it took them to pass a finishing line could be timed, with the winner being the player with the shortest time.

Or, with more floor space several players could play at a time, in which case the winner would be the first person past the finishing line.

With even more players, the game could be played in rounds with winners of each round playing each other.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

Page contributed by Neil Cryer

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.