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Chess in the factories.

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:46 am
by MJMcCready
Hi all, I was recently surprised to learn that in my home town the motor company Vauxhall had its own chess club in the 1950's, rather than the 70's as I thought. Another industrial giant Electrolux followed suit not long after. I was wondering why we started playing chess in factories. Was it simply a case of following the success of our Soviet counterparts? Does anyone know which company in England was the first to have its own chess club?

Thanks

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 11:01 am
by Mick Norris
Ferranti 1 won the Wahltuch Trophy in the Manchester League in 1927, which suggests they had more than 1 team

Refuge Assurance 1 won in 1911

Clydesdale 2 were joint winners of B division in 1893

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 12:40 pm
by MJMcCready
...and there was me thinking it was a post WW2 phenomenon!

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:48 pm
by Andy Stoker
My guess - from a position of ignorance - would be earlier rather than later... though extending post war. "Regaining Paradise: Englishness and the Early Garden City Movement" by Standish Meacham mentions a chess club at Lever Brothers in the early years of the 20th Century, I am fairly sure that Cadbury's had a similar club at their Bournville works (have't found a reference) ... after all, this is the golden age of paternal provision for the wide needs of the workers

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 10:36 am
by Jon Mahony
Rose Forgrove chess club in Leeds was originally a factory team, I believe they used to play their matches in the canteen, unsure when it started but I believe they were playing at the factory up until it closed some time in the 90’s. They now play from a community centre, but retain the factory name.

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:13 am
by Phil Neatherway
I believe the Electra club near Stoke was a factory-based team. They dominated the North Staffs League in the 1970s. Does anyone know what happened to that club? There was also a Michelin team in Stoke in those days.

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:36 am
by Roger de Coverly
I think this is post 1945, but I believe there used to be a National knock out competition for employer based teams. According to the history in the BCF 2004 Yearbook, that was in 1953 sponsored by the Daily Herald. The history also goes on to say "subsequently discontinued through lack of support".

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 11:45 am
by Steve Rooney
We had a number of works-based teams in the Shropshire league until fairly recently, and arguably still have one, the Telepost club although I am not convinced that many of the current squad have a post office or BT background and I don't know the precise status of the social club that hosts it. Perkins Engines, and its forebears, were in the Shropshire league and their club venue was notorious for having some tricky distractions - an indoor file range was regularly in use in a room adjacent to the one used for their home chess matches!

This year's division one winners, Priorslee Lions are in fact descended from the former COD Donnington social club (Coddon) and some of the team started in the old GKN Sankey club. The last time the club won the league was in the '90s when it was still COD Donnington.

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:05 pm
by Martyn Harris
Phil Neatherway wrote:I believe the Electra club near Stoke was a factory-based team. They dominated the North Staffs League in the 1970s. Does anyone know what happened to that club? There was also a Michelin team in Stoke in those days.
Electra indeed dominated the North Staffs League in the 70s, winning it seven times, and runners-up in the other three years, to Keele University, Knypersley and Cheddleton. By the early 80s, and possibly sooner, they were based at Alsager School. My records of that period are incomplete, but Electra fielded 8 teams in season 82/83, and were still active in 84/85. By 86/87 the club had folded, doing so if my memory is correct when ICL closed their local offices/works, transferring staff to somewhere in the Manchester area.

Michelin last played in season 96/97, though for several years had fielded just one team.

Going back further I can find mention of a British Aluminium side in the league in the 50s.

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:41 pm
by Phil Neatherway
I was a member of the Keele University team that won the League in 1974 or 1975, I can't remember which.


(Dates corrected!)

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:03 pm
by Matt Mackenzie
Phil Neatherway wrote:I was a member of the Keele University team that won the League in 197 or 9175, I can't remember which.
I think you might want to correct that ;)

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:27 pm
by MartinCarpenter
Well it'd explain why he can't remember it ;)

Surely no surprise they were a popular sort of team back in the day? Important form of social organisation and a cheap venue too.

The latter explains why York actually play in the Yorkshire league as York railway institute. Derived from our venue - which is owned by the railway workers social club. One or two players connected to railways one way or another but they let anyone join the RI for not much money and then its a good, cheap venue.

Many of these places shut now of course. Not clear how long even the RI is going to last.

York league mostly named after pubs nowadays as they're where the venues are :) There's still a Copperworks A in the Leeds league.

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:14 pm
by Martyn Harris
Phil Neatherway wrote:I was a member of the Keele University team that won the League in 1974 or 1975, I can't remember which.
1974. Keele were runners-up in 75 and 76.

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:29 am
by Neil Graham
The Nottinghamshire Chess League was a microcosm of the industrial heritage of the city & county. Over the years all the clubs with connections to firms have vanished, in many cases like the industries and firms themselves.

They include, in no particular order, Players, Boots, Raleigh, Bevercotes Colliery, Welbeck Colliery, Sherwood Colliery, Jessops, Nottingham Electricity, Mansfield Electricity, Staythorpe Electricity, Hoveringham Gravels, RAF Newton, Notts Police, National Westminster Bank, Ericssons, Nottingham Polytechnic.

In Leicestershire I recall that Imperial Typewriters were a prominent side, in Peterborough we always played county matches at Perkins Engine Works and in Derbyshire British Celanese were an important club; indeed county matches were still played at their canteen until recently.

Re: Chess in the factories.

Posted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:51 am
by Mike Truran
Hazells used to play in the Oxfordshire League, but as I recall folded back in the 70s or 80s. They were connected to Hazell, Watson and Viney, a printing and publishing company in Aylesbury. It was taken over by Maxwell Communications Corporation plc in 1981, and that was presumably the end of that. BPCC Hazell Books was still going in 1995, but was a shadow of its former self. After that easily accessible records cease to exist.

:( :( :(

There is still a Hazells Bowls Club.