Glasgow Ladies' Chess Club

No official date of inauguration of the club has been found. The Falkirk Herald chess column of 15 November 1905 (p.8), reporting on the formation of a ladies' club in Stirling, ended with:-

'We hope soon to hear that a ladies' club has been formed in Glasgow.'

Nothing was mentioned in subsequent reports until 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).

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...' likely meaning the year, which would fit with the club being founded in 1906.

Confusing matters slightly, the Glasgow Herald of 11 February 1955 (p.5 - 'Around and About') announced that on February 23 the Glasgow Ladies' Chess Club, founded in 1905, would hold a dinner in the North British Station Hotel to celebrate their jubilee. D.M. MacIsaac, in his Glasgow Herald chess column of 18 February 1955 (p.4), said the club was formed in 1905 by several women members of the Hillhead C.C, naming Mrs Gibb, president, Miss Ellison Gibb, secretary and Mrs Brockett, who was secretary from 1916 until her death in 1945.

Mrs Margaret Gibb

Ellison Scotland Gibb

Mrs Jeanie Brockett

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.

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 early 1908 the club was meeting at the Kettledrum Tea Rooms, 106 West George Street, Glasgow but, like many clubs, they would change premises several times in later years. Other venues included:-

Eldon Cafe, 94 Renfield Street (from 1923)
Athenaeum, St George's Place (from 1930)
Green's Playhouse, Renfield Street, Geneva room (from 1940)

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. 

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

A news item about the upcoming dinner said:-

The club began in 1905, when a few West End ladies met for friendly games at the Hillhead Chess Club. In the following year they launched out under a name of their own, and a faithful record of minutes has been kept.

(The Hillhead CC was the first club to admit women, in 1893.)  

1955 Jubilee Dinner

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)

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 Budge (Kilmacolm)
Miss F. Cree
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
Mrs Prenter
Miss Barbara Rae
Mrs Reid
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 A. Sunter
Mrs F.F. Thomson
Mrs J.F. Thomson
Miss Alice A. Wardhaugh (sister of Carrick Wardhaugh)
Mrs Waterworth
Mrs Zeiser

Additions/corrections welcomed.

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.

Alan McGowan
Historian/Archivist, Chess Scotland

updated 29/11/2022