Market day: Resident of Chichester care home surprised by board game she invented almost half a century ago
Jenny Mitchell-Jones, who lives in Wellington Grange, was one of five friends who designed and launched a farm life game in the run up to Christmas 1974.
Market day featured 33 miniature plastic animals, including cows, sheep, and chickens, which players collected for points on their travels to and from the market.
While having lunch at Wellington Grange recently, Jenny mentioned the game during a conversation with waitress Sue Milton.
Sue wanted to know if any of the 5,000 games produced were still around 47 years later.
Sue said, “After many hours of hunting I managed to find one on eBay. There was the board, all the animals, dice and tokens, and the danger and advantage cards, so I bought it to surprise Jenny with it.
Jenny said, “I couldn’t believe it. When I saw a real game again, with its original box and all the pieces, I was delighted, over the moon, and I immediately wanted to share it with everyone.
The Broyle Road home escort staff arranged for Jenny to give a talk on how Market Day was created.
She then showed off how to play and, of course, was only too happy to have a friendly match with the other residents.
Sarah-jane Willis, member of the support team, said: “It was fascinating to hear how Jenny and her friends took a family game idea from conception to reality.
“We enjoyed hearing how she traveled to London to source miniature plastic animals and how she and her friends converted a barn into a production line to make and fill the boxes.
“Jenny was a little worried about not remembering the rules, but it all came back as soon as we had a race.
“The residents who attended loved hearing about it and the actual game was a lot of fun.
“We were all so impressed and inspired by what Jenny and her group of friends had achieved.”
In 1974, Jenny and her friends Diane Sawday, Barbara Bennett, Anne Kendall and Diane Flemming were all living close to each other on separate farms in West Sussex.
The five were members of a small investment club that had little success on the stock market so, to earn some income and have fun at the same time, they invented Market Day.
Aimed at ages seven to 12, and designed for two to six players, the game was marketed as a mail-order Christmas present for the princely sum of £ 3.50.
Orders have been placed with Holdfast Enterprises on a farm near Sidlesham.
According to the rules, the players progressed around the board by “picking up” the plastic animals – a bull, several cows, horses, sheep, pigs, turkeys and chickens.
Each type of animal scored different amounts of points.
If a player landed in a danger space, the relevant card they needed to pick up might say something like “Horse has colic, miss a turn”.
On the other hand, a perk card might say, “Have a good lambing season, get a sheep”.
As Jenny recalls, the five friends already had a captive audience to try out the game before it was released to the public.
She said, “We were all moms and had 20 kids between us, so there was no problem getting it tested and thoroughly tested.
“One thing we made sure it could be played in just half an hour.
“That way the kids weren’t bored and moms and dads weren’t tired of waiting until the game was over before bedtime.”