Glevum Games of Gloucester - pioneering game manufacturers


Glevum Games of Gloucester - pioneering game manufacturers

In the early 20th century, parlour games became more popular, diversifying from board games. Manufacturer Glevum Games (founded in 1894 in Gloucester by the Roberts Brothers) were at one point considered to be the largest maker of games in the United Kingdom, and produced a vast range of products.

Harold Owen Roberts patented the game of Piladex in 1890. It originated as a game for attendees of a Gloucester Church youth club, and Harold began selling it by mail order from his home. The game was active, and involved batting a banana-shaped balloon across a taut string, with its boisterous nature making it exciting for Victorian children. Piladex found royal patronage when Princess (later Queen) Alexandra bought it for her household in 1898, helping the game to be a success. It was later sold in America (franchised as Pillow Dex) and this was one of the earliest products of Parker Brothers - the firm responsible for the success of Monopoly.

With his brother John, Harold Roberts established Glevum Games in 1894, and the firm produced a number of parlour games until 1957. Those produced include 'Jiggle-Joggle' (c. 1920), 'British Empire' (c. 1925) and 'Flying Squad' (c. 1930).

Glevum's products were manufactured from their factory in Upton Street, Gloucester. Built in 1902, it was considered a state-of-the-art workplace - with government inspectors referring other employers there to highlight positive employment conditions of the 700 employees.

World War Two stymied the commercial success of the factory, and the factory was commandeered for war work. After the war the company struggled to regain momentum, and the directors sought an amenable takeover by rivals Chad Valley in 1954. The factory closed in 1957.

Further reading

Links to external websites are not maintained by Bite Sized Britain. They are provided to give users access to additional information. Bite Sized Britain is not responsible for the content of these external websites.