Glasgow Ladies' Chess Club

The beginnings of the Glasgow Ladies' Chess Club date from 1905, when several ladies met for friendly games at Hillhead Chess Club (the first club to admit women, in 1893).

The Falkirk Herald chess column of 17 January 1906 (p.8) announced:

'A Ladies C.C. has been formed in Glasgow and meets every Wednesday afternoon at the rooms of the Central C.C., 51 West Regent Street, Glasgow. On behalf of the ladies the secretary of the Central C.C. has meantime kindly consented to act. His address is:- Mr J. Buchanan, 55 West Regent Street.'

Mr Buchanan was still shown as the club's hon. secretary when details of the 1906 Scottish Ladies' Championship, to be held in the clubrooms at 51 West Regent Street in April, were announced. (Falkirk Herald, 28 March 1906, p.8).

They had no Constitution in 1905, but they soon "put their house in order." On 9 May 1906 the ladies held their first recorded Committee Meeting with Mrs Gibb as President, and Mrs Brockett as a member of Committee.

Mrs Margaret Gibb


Mrs Jeanie Brockett
Mrs Brockett served as club secretary from 1916 until her death in 1945
Picture: BCM 1926  

The Falkirk Herald column of 24 October 1906 (p. 8) indicated that some changes had been made since the club's formation. It now met on Wednesday afternoons, from 3 to 6 o'clock, at Cameron's Tea Rooms, 122 St Vincent Street, Glasgow. The Hon. Secretary was shown as Miss E.S. Gibb, 10 Granby Terrace, Hillhead, Glasgow.

Miss Ellison S. Gibb

The Falkirk Herald column of 29 May 1907 (p. 8), reporting at the end of the season:-

'The closing meeting of this club was held in Cameron's Tea Rooms, 122 St Vincent Street, on Wednesday 15 May, when there was a large attendance of members. Mrs Gibb, the president, was in the chair. The secretary read a report of the season's work, which showed that the attendance at the club meetings and the financial condition were satisfactory. There has been a large increase in the membership, and the members have taken part in several important chess matches, including the Spens Cup Competition, Scottish Ladies' Chess Congress, and Edinburgh League Congress. Mrs Gibb won the Ladies' Association medal as well as her games in the Spens and County matches. Mrs Munro, vice-president, won the second prize for ladies at the Scottish Chess Association Congress in Edinburgh. Miss Ethel A. Smith won the gold bracelet, which was the club prize, presented by Mrs Gibb. The hon. secretary, Miss Ellison S. Gibb, won the minor championship of Scotland at the Scottish Chess Association Congress last Easter.'

By late 1907 the ladies had moved to the Kettledrum Tea Rooms, 106 West George Street, formerly Flint's.

In 1912 the club moved to Miss Buick's at 147 West George Street, and in 1923 they moved to the Eldon Café, 94 Renfield Street.

In 1930 they moved again, to the Athenaeum, St George's Place (now Nelson Mandela Place).

The Falkirk Herald column of 14 October 1931 (p.15) referred to the members being entertained to tea the previous Wednesday by the club president, Mrs McChlery, 'as this was the 25th birthday of the club...'

In 1940 the club moved to Green's Playhouse, Renfield Street, where they had space in the Geneva Room. They were still there in November 1975, when three club members had to be rescued from the Apollo Centre after being trapped by fire and smoke. 

On 23 February 1955 the club members held a dinner in the North British Hotel, Glasgow, to celebrate their 50th birthday.

1955 Jubilee Dinner
Picture: Edinburgh Ladies Chess Club records

From left to right: Mrs S.M.Steedman, Miss J. Ferguson (president), Mrs M. Hepburn, Miss B. Rae (secretary), Miss M.M. Benvie (president of Edinburgh Ladies' Chess Club), Miss M. Smillie (convenor), Mrs Cartwright (Grace McChlery, daughter of the late Mrs Helen McChlery), and Miss L.M. Hogarth.
Lieut.-Col. W.G. Irvine-Fortescue, SCA president, was a special guest, as was Mrs Cartwright.

Telephone Match
On Saturday, 30 November 1974 the Glasgow Ladies' CC played a telephone match against Dounreay Power Station, who had put out a challenge for such a match so as to make use of a special offer from British Telecom - 5 hours for £5. The Glasgow Ladies' - the only club to take up the challenge - met at Rose Shedden's house at 6 Moor Road, Milngavie. Play lasted from 2pm-7pm, with Rose doing telephone duty for most of the time, except for a short break when Dr Partis of Bearsden CC took over. Anne McGrory relayed the moves from Rose on the phone to the five players. Tea and biscuits were served at 3.30pm and a buffet dinner and chessboard cake at 8pm, provided by Rose. Dounreay won 3-2, with Mrs Allan and Mrs Smith scoring for the ladies. (Information from Val Corbett, daughter of Rose Shedden.) 

75th Anniversary
In May 1981 the members celebrated their 75th anniversary with a party at their then premises at 28 Rose Street, Garnethill, Glasgow. (Scottish Chess Nr. 65, p13.)

The Endgame
Scottish Chess
of September 1989 indicated that the club was without a venue, and with a large collection of boards, sets, clocks and books dating from 1905, "we have decided to sell some of these items." (Rose Shedden)

Rose Shedden (née Ferguson) was introduced to the Glasgow Ladies' CC by D.M. MacIsaac around 1950. Her father worked at the Glasgow Herald, where MacIsaac edited the chess column. Rose, in her early 20s at the time, was made welcome by older members, mostly retired teachers. Mrs Shedden, the last secretary of the club, died 21 December 2022, age 93.

Many members donated trophies for various competitions, including:-

Margaret Gibb Cup - for the club championship. [Ellison Gibb, to honour her mother]
McChlery Cup - second-class competition. [Mrs McChlery]
Lawrie Casket - third-class competition. [Mrs Lawrie]
Edington Cup - best league and cup scores. [Miss Edington]
Gibb Cup - handicap. [Mrs Margaret Gibb]

"After the club disbanded in 1989 the three trophies in the club's possession - the McChlery Cup, the Lawrie Trophy and the Eddington Cup - were given to Kelvingrove/Glasgow Museums. It is not known what happened to the other two trophies; the Gibb Cup was won by Anne McGrory that year; she moved to the Middle East to get married and lost touch." (Val Corbett, daughter of former club member Rose Shedden, e-mail 22 February 2017.)

Some of those associated with the Glasgow Ladies' CC:-

Miss Jan S. Bain
Lady Bilsland
Mrs Jeanie Brockett
Mrs Esme Budge (née Hewetson)
Miss Florence Cree

Mrs Helen Cuthbertson (née Aitken)
Miss Margaret Eleanor Edington

The brothers and sisters of Miss Edington, who died in 1935, donated a trophy in her memory to the club in 1937.

Miss Janet Ferguson

Mrs Margaret Gibb
Miss Margaret Gibb
Miss Ellison S. Gibb

Members of a family of chess players and Suffragettes. Mrs Gibb was the first president of the club and Ellison Gibb was a longtime secretary.

Miss M.D. Gilchrist

Scottish Ladies' Champion 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1938.
British Ladies' Champion 1929 and 1934

Mrs M.S. Hepburn
Miss L.M. Hogarth
Mrs R.M. Jones
Mrs M.E. Leask
Mrs Agnes S.H. Lillie
Mrs Lyon
Mrs A. Macfarlane
Mrs Helen Hood McChlery (née Patrick)

A Vice-President and President of the club and donor of the McChlery Cup.

Mrs Munro
Miss E. Neilson
Miss Barbara Rae
Mrs Bessie Reid (née Paul)
Mrs Jeanie Rodger, J.P

Wife of Daniel Lusk Rodger (1852-1930), who founded the firm of Smith & Rodger. Mrs Rodger hosted the world champions Alekhine and his wife and Miss Menchik at her home, Mount Pleasant, Mill Strret, Rutherglen, during their respective visits to Glasgow in 1938.

Mrs Rose Shedden
Miss Ethel A. Smith
Mrs S.M. Steedman
Lady Stirling Maxwell
Mrs Agnes Sunter (née Blythe)
Mrs F.F. Thomson
Mrs J.F. Thomson
Miss Alice A. Wardhaugh (sister of Carrick Wardhaugh)
Mrs Hilda Waterworth (née Morton)
Mrs Zeiser


Gibb Rose Bowl
A silver prize rose bowl embossed with scrolls and flowers, inscribed "Glasgow Ladies Chess Club, presented by Mrs Peter Gibb, President, 1908." 8½ diameter, Sheffield 1907, on ebonised plinth. (Presented by Mrs Margaret Gibb.)

Margaret Gibb Cup
A silver prize cup with 3 handles and baluster column, inscribed "Championship Cup, presented to the Glasgow Ladies Chess Club in memory of Margaret Gibb, First President." 8½" high, Sheffield 1919, on ebonised plinth. (From Miss Ellison S. Gibb, to honour her mother.)

McChlery Cup
A silver prize cup with 2 scroll handles and chased rim, inscribed "Presented to Glasgow Ladies Chess Club by H.H. McChlery for competition between 2nd class players, 1930." 8½" high overall, Birmingham 1929, on ebonised plinth. (From Mrs H.H. McChlery.)

Edington Cup
A silver prize cup of ogee form with 2 scroll handles, inscribed "To the Glasgow Ladies Chess Club in memory of Eleanor Edington...October 1936." 8" high overall, Birmingham 1928, on ebonised plinth. (Donated  by members of Miss Edington's family. For best league/match scores.) 

Lawrie Trophy
A silver square Comport with canted corners, inscribed "Lawrie Trophy, presented to the Glasgow Ladies Chess Club by Mrs J.S. Lawrie, 1937." 8¼" x 8¼", Birmingham 1934. (For third-class competition.)

Glasgow Ladies CC Trophies
Top left: Margaret Gibb Cup; right: Edington Cup
Middle: McChlery Cup
Bottom left: Lawrie Trophy; right: Gibb Rose Bowl


Glasgow Herald 11 February 1955, p5; 18 February 1955, p4.
The Bulletin
, 22 February 1955.
Falkirk Herald
15 November 1905; 17 January 1906; 28 March 1906; 24 October 1906, p8; 29 May 1907, p8; 14 October 1931
Scottish Chess Nr. 65, p13; Nr. 112, p17.
Val Corbett, daughter of Rose Shedden.

Alan McGowan
Historian/Archivist, Chess Scotland

updated 24/08/2023