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.

Photos: – 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 92 grams. Samuel Fox also manufactured tennis rackets with a stainless-steel head and with a wooden shaft and handle.
A display of rackets at the National Badminton Museum, Milton Keynes from 1930s to 1940s.


This racket and many more can be seen at the National Badminton Museum, National Badminton Centre, Bradwell Road, Loughton Lodge, MILTON KEYNES MK8 9LA
Visitors are welcome to look around the Museum unescorted at any time – The National Badminton Centre is normally open 9am to 8pm every day.
Free Admission.


The National Badminton Museum is on the 1st floor with a lift. Disabled toilet facilities are available on the 1st floor. There is no wheelchair accessibility to the Museum office.


There is a restaurant on the first floor serving breakfasts every day of the week and light lunches on weekdays.
Free parking at the National Badminton Centre.


National Badminton Centre

 Lodge Hotel

For more information and to book a room – Click Here.

If you have any badminton memorabilia, archive material, or any other items and would like to donate them to the National Badminton Museum please contact us at: –
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 artefacts for the National Collection as they become available.

The National Badminton Museum is a small charity administered by volunteers. Help preserve the history of badminton by making a donation or becoming a ‘Friend of the Museum’. Any donations to the National Badminton Museum will help us to expand the collection of memorabilia, books, and documents to make these items readily available to all.
To become a ‘Friend of the Museum’ or to make a donation to the National Badminton Museum online or by cheque go to: – ‘Home’ – ‘Friends and Donations’.  –  Click Here.      or use the QR Code  – Thank you.

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