Earliest English Chess Clubs

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Paul McKeown
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Paul McKeown » Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:01 pm

In 1871, the Camden Athenaeum opened, at the junction of the Camden and Parkhurst Roads. Holloway Prison had already existed across the street for nineteen years; if you look carefully at the photograph on Wikipedia of Holloway Prison dated from 1896 you can see a sign post for the Athenaeum at the far right hand side.

Here is a postcard showing the Camden Athenaeum:

athenaeum.jpg
athenaeum.jpg (33.6 KiB) Viewed 2430 times


Islington: Social and cultural activities', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8: Islington and Stoke Newington parishes (1985), pp. 45-51 wrote:The Athenaeum, Camden Road, was built in 1871 at the junction of Camden and Parkhurst roads, after appeals for a literary and scientific institution for the area. The building of brick and terracotta was designed by F. R. Meeson in an Italianate style. It contained meeting halls, libraries, and a hall for theatrical and musical performances, seating 600. It was later taken over by Beale's, the caterers, as the Athenaeum hall. In 1912 and 1915 it housed an orchestral society and music teachers, and was used for concerts, and after the Second World War rehearsals were held there by Donald Wolfit's Advance Players Association. In 1955 the building was demolished and the site used for a petrol station. (fn 5)

fn. 5 Pevsner, Lond. ii. 239; docs. found in fndn. stone of Athenaeum, and Note on its Hist., in Islington libr.; Howard, Lond. Theatres, 16.


The Athenaeum Chess Club started at the Camden Athenaeum two years later in 1873. Much of its early history can be gleaned from sources such as The Westminster Papers, the Illustrated London News, and even that new kid on the block, the British Chess Magazine. One delightful story is how the Athenaeum persuaded the septuagenarian, Horwitz, to represent it in matches against other clubs: he insisted on spotting pawn and two against the whippersnappers representing the opposition on top board!

The Athenaeum Chess Club's full style is the "Camden Athenaeum, Westminster and Central Chess Club". In 1908 it merged with the Westminster CC; I am not aware of when it merged with the Central. One question that has eluded me so far is which "Westminster CC" this was, there were several over the years. One problem with some stories about old chess clubs is that they "closed". Closer inspection sometimes reveals that they actually "moved".

The Athenaeum has changed venue many times in the intervening years, and has met in central, rather than north, London for a century or so, now. It claims to be the oldest extant chess club in the capital; I know of no plausible challengers.

Nick Ivell
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Nick Ivell » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:26 pm

I read somewhere that Liverpool CC was the oldest continually existing club in the world. Not sure if they are still going though.

Sean Hewitt

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Sean Hewitt » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:39 pm

Warren Kingston wrote:Norwich Chess Club website 1836.

Warren - I'm impressed that Norwich CC has had a website for so long :lol:

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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Ian Kingston » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:04 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:
Warren Kingston wrote:Norwich Chess Club website 1836.

Warren - I'm impressed that Norwich CC has had a website for so long :lol:

No problem - the technology was available, although not standardised until 1 April 1990: http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc1149.html.

Tim Harding
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Tim Harding » Thu Sep 15, 2011 8:56 am

Rather than post piecemeal points to this thread, I have written my latest Kibitzer article
at the Chess Cafe on this topic.

http://www.chesscafe.com/Tim/kibb.htm

Congratulations to the Streatham sleuths on their discoveries but I am reluctant to believe
there was a continuous Hereford club in after years.
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Steve Rooney
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Steve Rooney » Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:25 pm

Shropshire's chess history has been collated by our webmaster Keith Tabner drawing on lots of research from David Everington, a leading county player since his teens and still Shrewsbury's A team captain. There is evidence of a Shrewsbury club in 1852 although it may not be continuous. The club's individual trophy dates back to 1895 and it is the same one that is still in use.

There was apparently a joint Shropshire/Herfordshire association in the 20th century and the history has some references to Hereford's club and some early games from players of both counties.

http://www.shropshirechess.org/History/introduction.htm
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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:15 am

Tim Harding wrote:Rather than post piecemeal points to this thread, I have written my latest Kibitzer article
at the Chess Cafe on this topic.

http://www.chesscafe.com/Tim/kibb.htm

Congratulations to the Streatham sleuths on their discoveries but I am reluctant to believe
there was a continuous Hereford club in after years.


Just wanted to thank Tim for posting that piece and the link here. It was a fascinating read.

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John Upham
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby John Upham » Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:20 pm

From page 33, volume LXXV (1955) of the BCM we have the famous Quotes and Queries column of DJ Morgan.

Q&Q #277 was from T. Whittington and was answered thus:

DJ Morgan in 1955 wrote:The oldest chess club is the British Isles is the Manchester C.C. founded on December 3rd, 1813. The Liverpool Club cam into existence on December 12th, 1837. The two clubs played the first game by telegraph between British Clubs on March 28th, 1856. In Scotland, the Edinburgh Club dates back to 1827, and the Glasgow Club to 1840.


Another post in this thread mentioned 1817 rather than 1813 for Manchester C.C. however.
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Alex McFarlane » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:29 pm

And Edinburgh was formed 3 years AFTER its postal match with London!!!!????

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Kevin Thurlow » Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:17 am

The December 1945 Chess refers to early matches...

Yorkshire vs Lancashire at Bradford 1871
Liverpool vs Manchester by Telegraph 1857 (even then they couldn't bear to be in the same room!?)
Liverpool vs Calcutta by cable 1880
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Mick Norris
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Mick Norris » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:04 pm

The organisation of chess in Manchester dates back to the foundation of the Manchester Chess Club on the 3rd September 1817. A second club was formed at the newly built Artheraeum in 1839. The next major advance occured while James Stanley KIPPING was the secretary of the Manchester Chess Club, between 1854 and 1863. The club commenced a series of matches with the Liverpool Chess Club in 1855.

http://www.manchesterchessfederation.co.uk/page63.html
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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Postby Gerard Killoran » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:40 pm

A history of Liverpool Chess Club published in 1893 - and giving its foundation date as 12 December 1837 - can be downloaded from here...

http://www.forgottenbooks.org/info/Live ... 029322.php


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