Anthony Pratt (10th August 1903 to 9th April 1994)


Cluedo is one of the best-selling board games with over 100 million copies sold since it was launched in 1949. The inventor was Anthony Pratt and here I am in Birmingham outside his home and in Bromsgrove stood by his grave.


As a young man he was a gifted pianist and he played in large country hotels and on cruise ships. When the Second World War commenced he worked on a drilling machine in an engineering factory making tank parts. Though the repetitive manual work bored him sick it was a golden egg that would make him some riches. To combat boredom he thought about creating a board game. While playing the piano in those big hotels he’d seen that an evening's entertainment was a murder mystery games. The setting was a country house in which actors and the guests would try to solve a murder. This along with Anthony’s love of Agatha Christie’s Who-Done-It novels fired his imagination.


He was 41 by the time he and his wife Elva set about designing the game, Elva doing the board’s artwork. For eighteen months they sat in their lounge behind blackout blinds perfecting the game. Registering the patent was one of the best things he ever did. A chum introduced Anthony to Norman Watson who was the boss of Waddingtons that manufactured games. He showed Norman the game, a few adjustments were made and it was put into manufacture. It was called Murder! but Norman renamed it. Even though the Second World War had ended basic materials were scarce and Cluedo wasn’t put into production until Anthony was 46.


Cluedo sold poorly and Waddingtons considered it a failure. Anthony got a job helping the demobbed return to work. The game was gathering momentum though and when he was aged 50 Waddington’s offered him £5,000 (over £100,000 now) for the overseas rights. Not knowing how successful the game would become across the world he took the money. He and Elva had a daughter to bring up and they bought a shop selling sweets and tobacco in Warwickshire. Later they moved to Bournemouth and ran a business renting out holiday flats. All this time Cluedo was spreading across the world and Anthony could have been a multi-millionaire like Charles Darrow who invented Monopoly and Alfred Butts who invented Scrabble. He made a hefty sum of money but had said goodbye to millions when he’d signed over the overseas royalties.


He worked as a solicitor's clerk for about three years before retiring around aged 59. Aged 77 he and Elva moved back to Birmingham to this house in Kings Heath. He enjoyed playing music and reading detective fiction. Eventually he developed Alzheimer's disease and moved into a nursing home where he died at age 90.


I found his grave with much difficulty in Bromsgrove Cemetery and it was getting dark when I was forced to ask for help from a man splattered with plaster (who was visiting his mum’s grave.) Oddly we were about thirty feet away from it. When he’d gone I did the usual salutes watched by a bemused squirrel. Next door but one to the grave is a man called Roy Tilt but his headstone was not on a tilt (see photo). I have never met a Tilt and I am 29 and 7 months old. I remember finding a grave filled with the Splatt family. I have not met a Splatt either.



Outside his home…







Image result for anthony pratt, cluedo





At Bromsgrove cemetery about to look for Anthony…






It soon went dark…