Leapfrog (1900)



This footage was filmed in Yorkshire in 1900. In it we see boys playing a game they call ‘Leapfrog’ and can also be called ‘Mountie Kitty’, ‘High Jimmy Knacker’, ‘Hi Cockalorum’, ‘High Bobbery’, ‘Mobstick’, ‘Mount-a-cuddy’, ‘Strong Horses and Weak Donkeys’, ‘Rigamajee’ and ‘Pomperino’. The game requires two teams of players, most often boys. The first boy of one team must lean against a wall or tree and a second player then bends over, holding onto the first boy’s waist and placing his head against the boy’s stomach. The rest of team then form a line behind these two, also bending down to create a human caterpillar or horse. The second team’s task is to then leapfrog up this line of boys, landing firmly on them. Once all the boys have succeeded in vaulting onto the line of players they then shout a chant. One example, recorded by Roud, is: ‘Hi Jimmy Knacker, one, two, three, Hi Jimmy Knacker, one, two, three, All o-ver’. Once this triumphant call had been shouted, the boys are then allowed to topple off.  The aim of the boys below was to stay upright and to not crumple under the weight of the other team.  Roud notes that this game became particularly popular throughout the 1920s and 1930s, continuing into the 1970s. It has now all but disappeared from modern playgrounds.

Leapfrog (1900)
© British Film Institute
Held by:
British Film Institute

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