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Yonex All England Badminton Championships

The History of All England Championships

From the beginning - to Thomas Cup, Uber Cup - to the All England Badminton Championships
by Dille Andersen, DilleSport

Who really invented the game badminton nobody knows. Through time a lot of people have been giving their opinion.
It is a fact though that people from ancient time found pleasure in keeping a shuttle in the air as long as possible.
Back in time - in ancient Greece - traces of icons, pictures and stories have been found, but also in France and the Far East various print showing the game, or something very similar to it have been spotted around mid 1800's.

Originally the sport was performed outside and the Duke Beaufort more or less is synonymous with badminton 'just' for the fact that he owned a great house - Badminton House - in the village Badminton, in Glouschester county. Beaufort was to entertain officers on leave fro India and one day when it was raining - he moved the game inside the house, to the hall.
The officers loved the game so much that they adopted it - brought it back to India and made it their favorite 'waste og time'.

A grandchild of Beaufort expresses it this way. He is convinced that his family developed the sport of badminton the way it is known today! In Guiness book of badminton (by Pat Davis), p. 8 he says:

      "My grandparents habitually used the Front Hall as a sitting-room and it was also put to another good use by a previous generation. One rainy day in the middle of the last century, my great-aunts were feeling rather bored, so they rigged up a string from the front door handle to the fireplace to try out the battledores and shuttlecocks that they had devised for themselves with both ingenuity and patience.Then they proceeded to play a new game, making up the rules as they went along.
      At first, their aim was to keep the shuttlecock in the air for as long as possible, but the rules became more and more sophisticated as their skills grew, and eventually between them they had invented the game of badminton".
As with the uncertainty on the origin of badminton there is uncertainty on who wrote down the first set of rules. Some say it was the British in Poona, India, who wrote the rules down in 1873. Some say that Colonel Shelby wrote them down in 1879.
1873 or 1879 - it doesn't really matter! Fact is the rules were written down and revised twice - first in 1887, then in 1890. It is also a fact that these rules are the basis of the rules used today. The clubs, especially those formed in southern England, at the end of the 19th Century each had their own interpretation of the rules. Chaos was everyday life and in 1883 at a meeting in Southsea, Hampshire, 14 of the clubs agreed to formalize the rules.
That led to the foundation of the Badminton Association of England. (BAofE).

The first badminton tournament was held in Guildford in 1898 and became a forerunner of badminton tournaments as we know them today.
In 1899 the All England Championships started. More on this subject a little later.

After the obvious success in 1899 the game spread rapidly - primarily in the english speaking part of the world. That indirectly led to the foundation of the International Badminton Federation (IBF) in 1934.
9 countries founded IBF: Canada, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. USA joined the Federation in 1938. IBF is situated in Gloucestershire county, in southern England.

English players dominated the sport of badminton in the first half of the 20th century but more nations started to interfere and the competition grew. In 1940 Sir George Alan Thomas came up with the idea of making a tournament for men - known as Thomas Cup. Due to the outbreak of World War II Thomas Cup was postponed to 1948.

The women wanted a similar tournament and with New Zealand as bringing the idea up and Mrs. Betty Uber donating the trophy Uber Cup took place for the first time in 1957.

All England Championships

The All England Championships are referred to as "The unofficial World Championships" and was for quite a long time considered the most prestigious of all tournaments. The tournament has been prestigious since 4 April 1899 when held for the first time and still is! In fact - for the first 3 years - from 1899-1901 the tournament was referred to as "The Open English Championships". Since 1902 the official name of the tournament changed to "The All England Championships".

For many years Wembley Arena in London was synonymous with All England Badminton Championships and you might think the tournament was always held here.

That is not the case:

HQ of the London Scottish Rifles at Buckingham Gate

Crystal Palace Central Transept

London Rifles Brigade's City Headquarters in Bunhill Row

Horticultural Hall in Vincent Square behind the Army and Navy Stores

Harringay Arena, North London Stadium

Empress Hall, Earls Court

Wembley Pool (later: Wembley Arena).
For a short while called the Empire Pool, because of a swimming pool which held the Olympic swimming contest when London hosted the 1948 Olympics. Before the pool was closed down for swimming and before the name changed from 'Empire Pool' to 'Wembley Arena' Christmas Iceskating pantomimes was staged [Jack and the Beanstalkes].

National Indoor Arena, Birmingham
The move from Wembley Arena was - amongst other things - due to too many players and that Wembley Arena was too worn out.

Originally published as part of the All England 2000 coverage. A few outdated links has been changed/deleted here.
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