It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.
When Waddington’s bought the rights to Monopoly from American games manufacturer Parker Brothers in 1935 the positions on the English version of the iconic board had to be assigned.
London was the choice of location and so somebody was tasked to seek out the appropriate ‘properties’.
[A]dded to that there was some small degree of rivalry for Parker Brothers who intended to use Atlantic City on their version hadn’t as yet brought, what was to become an iconic board game to market.
The onerous job of travelling by cab seeking out the board’s positions fell to Waddington’s managing director, Victor Hugo Watson.
Although born in Kennington Oval in 1878 Watson had been brought up in Yorkshire, joining Waddington’s in 1908, and now 27 years later he was persuaded by his young son to buy the rights for an English version of Monopoly, responsible for bringing the game to market.
He was joined by his secretary Marjorie Phillips, and after a morning taxi ride gathering possible positions for including for their board game stopped off for tea at The Angel Corner House Tea Rooms.
There had been an Angel coaching inn here since the 17th century and the current building in pale terracotta stone had been completed in 1899. The pub ceased trading in 1921 and sold to J. Lyons & Co. to be refitted to join the growing numbers of Lyons Corner Houses.
Probably losing interest in their assignment and having Pentonville Road already on their list, the Angel, itself on Pentonville Road seemed to be an afterthought as it is the only position not an actual street.
There is now a plaque on the building – which is now the Cooperative Bank – which was unveiled in October 2003 by Victor Watson’s grandson also called Victor marking the spot of that famous tea break.
As a footnote: The Old Kent Road is the only property on the original board south of the River. Could it be that even in 1935 cabbies were reluctant to go ‘South of the River’?
A fuller description of the Angel Islington can be found on Darkest London ‘Angels, Lyons and the World’s Most Popular Board Game.
Main picture: Lyons Corner House 2006 by London Destruction