From Umbrellas to Badminton Rackets.

Written by Geoff Hinder

In 1949 the world-famous umbrella manufacturer Samuel Fox and Company produced the ‘Silver Fox’ stainless-steel badminton racket.

Photo: – Geoff Hinder                                                                                                                                            Click on images to enlarge



Samuel Fox in 1842 moved to Stocksbridge to establish his own steel wire drawing business, this business developed into the Stocksbridge Steelworks.

In 1851 Fox and his company Fox Umbrella Frames Ltd developed the “Paragon” collapsible umbrella frame, a U section of string steel that was far superior to its competitors. Umbrellas with ‘Fox Frames’ were sold worldwide and the product continued until at least 1935.




Also, from 1855 Fox made a fortune from a similar product, “the cage Crinoline frame”. This is the steel framework that went under women’s hoop skirts.

The Silver Fox racket frame was constructed by welding together several layers of stainless-steel strips of razor blade thickness. To protect the gut strings as they pass through the frame they used nickel-plated eyelets, the strings then passed onto a leather strip which was laid around the outside of the frame. The strings passed over the leather where there were rubber cushion shock absorbers beneath it. Foxes said in their advert “the cushions provided a remarkable freedom from breakage. Note also that the gut is everywhere protected from contact with the court.” The racket weighs 189 grams, a modern graphite racket weighs approximately 104 grams. Samuel Fox also manufactured tennis rackets with a stainless-steel head and with a wooden shaft and handle.
A display at the National Badminton Museum, Milton Keynes of 1940s, 1950s and 1960s rackets.


This racket and many more can be seen at the National Badminton Museum, National Badminton Centre, Bradwell Road, Loughton Lodge, MILTON KEYNES MK8 9LA

Thank you to all the ‘Friends of the Museum’ and people who have made donations to the National Badminton Museum, your support enables us to purchase extremely rare badminton artifacts for the National Collection as they become available.

The National Badminton Museum’s latest project is to replace all the non-museum standard display cases as this will enable us to display objects without dust pollution and UV light damage.

Please can you help with this project.

If you would like to become a ‘Friend of the Museum’ or make a donation, please go to the ‘Museum’ header of the website, then to ‘Friends of the Museum’ and you will be able to download a Friends/Donation form.

For more information, please contact the National Badminton Museum at – [email protected]

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