HOME | News | Calendar | A Brief History | Timeline | List of Champions | Games | Photo Gallery | Contact | Officers| Competition Rules | Miscellany



March. According to Bell's Life a Mr Hod(g)son, of the Lamp Tavern, Bull Street, Birmingham, was one of the best draughts-players in England. The original "Pickwick" challenged him via that newspaper to play him for any sum he chose, by applying at the Grand Turk.


Sun. 22 Feb. Birmingham. In Bell's Life in London John Gibson announced that he would play Mr Coley, or any Birmingham man, a game of draughts, for £10 a side, and would be prepared to make the match tomorrow night, at Mr Hobson's, the Old King's Arms, Vale Street.


Sun 31 Jan in Bell's Life: "William Purslow of Bilston informs Francis Fellows that he can be backed to play him a fair game at draughts without trickery being resorted to, as in the last match, for any sum, and whenever he thinks proper. This money is ready at the Soldier's Return, Brook Street, Bilston."

Sun 7 Feb in Bell's Life:"Francis Fellows of Bilston says that he is at a loss to know what what W. Pinslow means by the word "trickery", but he will meet at Mr. John Griffith's, Temple Street, tomorrow...to make a match from £1 to £10..."

Mon 10 May at The Dog and Partridge, Birmingham. James Fyfe of Glasgow beat John Gibson of Birmingham in a match for £5 a side by 5-4 and 3 draws.

Sun 12 Sept. Bell's Life announced that William Marsden of Hill Top, West Bromwich, would play James Cowlishaw of the Plough, Broad Sreet, Nottingham, a match of 21 games in Birmingham or Nottingham for £20 a side [ about £1500 today].


Sun 10 Sept. In Bell's Life: "A Sheffield player will play a game at draughts with any man in Birmingham, or 20 miles around, for from £5 to £25. He will be in Birmingham on 28th or 29th inst..."


Mon and Tue, 1 and 2 ? April. At Nelson Tavern, Nelson Street, Birmingham, James Fife of Glasgow beat William Marsden of Wednesbury by 7-3 and 1 draw in a match for £10 a side.

John Busby (1825-1899) was a Birmingham player well known in draughts circles from the 50s. He was a coach for Robert Martins on his visit to America and later for US champion C.F. Barker after emigration.


Jan. Inge Street, Horse Fair, Birmingham. St. Martin's Working Men's Club was founded. The reading room where draughts and chess could be played was open in the evening and available to all.


Mon 30 June at the Temperance Hall, Leamington Spa. Draughts to be taught by a professional player.


[From The Leamington Advertiser, 19 June 1856]


Sun 20 Dec . In Bell's Life Chas. Bitteridge of Birmingham announced that he would play Wm. Yardley of Wednesbury the best of 13 games for £10 or £15 a side. The money was ready at The Sir Charles Napier, Camden Street.


Sat 18 Sept. A newspaper advertisement for St. Martin's Working Men's Association included a free library and reading room for young men in Shutt Lane, Moor Street - "open every evening to clerks and shopmen without charge. Chess and draughts provided."

Mon 15 Nov. Opening of the Winter Exhibition at Aston Hall and Park, Birmingham. The interim managers of Aston Hall announced the opening of a library and reading room on this date. "Chess and draughts will be provided." These games would be available during the exhibition.


Edward Lord of Birmingham was recognised as the the earliest exponent of blindfold playing in England. (Born ca 1823)

Oct at Wolverhampton. The Young Men's Christian Institute had a room that had been specially furnished for the accommodation of chess and draughts players.


Feb. The following advert appeared without explanation.

Great match

[From The Birmingham Post, 1 and 4 Feb 1861]

Mon 20 May to Wed 22 May at Mr. Sprawson's, Nag's Head Inn, Lichfield Street, Birmingham. A Draughts Contest was held. Open to anyone but only 14 entered. Numerous spectators each day. Robert Martins, one of the top English players, won first prize - a silver cup valued at 8 guineas [about £800 in 2017]. He beat all opponents without losing a game. 2nd was John Dempsey (Newcastle), 3rd George Bullock of Sheffield. Meers, Bethridge and Busby of Birmingham all played.

Tue 4 June at Mr. Sprawson's, Birmingham. Robert Martins to play an 11-game match with Meers.


Mon 20 July at Newhall Street, Birmingham. Birmingham Central Working Men's Club was opened. It had a spacious room set apart for draughts, chess, etc.

Wed 2 Dec at St John Street, Wolverhampton. A working men's club set up by Mander Brothers was opened. Facilities for games-playing to be provided.

Tue 29 Dec at Wolverhampton Street, Dudley. Dudley Mechanics' Institution was opened. Draughts etc to be encouraged.


At the Birmingham Heath Club, David Kirkwood played a game blindfold, simultaneously with a game of bagatelle.

Tue 10 Jan at Kidderminster Music Hall. Kidderminster Mutual Improvement Society Annual Soiree. In his report the chairman said that chess and draughts facilities were provided in winter.


Sat 29 Dec at Handsworth Working Men's Club, Birmingham. 6-a-side match against Perry Barr WMC, won by the home side after a "severe struggle".


Sat 5 Jan at Perry Barr Working Men's Club, Birmingham. The home side won the closely fought return 6-a-side match versus Handsworth WMC. "Considerable excitement was displayed amongst the competitors and those who witnessed this interesting match."

Tue 5 March at Handsworth Rooms, Villa Road, Birmingham. Handsworth WMC played the third and deciding match against Perry Barr WMC and this time won easily by 10-5 and 3 draws. There were numerous spectators.

Sat 16 May at Oldbury Club and Institute. A series of matches at bagatelle, chess and draughts versus Handsworth Working Men's Club. Handsworth won 4 out of 5 draughts games.

Thurs 15 Aug at Handsworth Working Men's Club Club, Birmingham. A match of bagatelle, chess and draughts vs Great Bridge WMC, Tipton. The home team won the draughts match by 11-2 and 2 draws.

5 Venour 0 Cherrington 0
2 Goold 2 Bristow 1
4 Corbett 0 Rea 1
11   2   2


Jan. At the AGM of the Handsworth Working Men's Club Club, Birmingham, it was reported that the members of the chess and draughts class had gained honours in competition with other clubs from Smethwick, Oldbury, Great Bridge and Perry Barr.


The Secular Club and Institute was opened at St. George's Hall, Upper Dean Street, Birmingham. It included a working-men's club, where various games, including draughts, were played. David Kirkwood ("Denny")- a gunmaker- was an official. Born in Edinburgh in 1841, he came to Birmingham in his early twenties and was an accomplished blindfold player.

Sat 27 Nov at Oldbury Working Men's Club and Institute. Return match with Handsworth WMC at cannon, French bagatelle, chess and draughts. Oldbury won two out of three draughts games.


1 March. The Draught-board included a reply to T. Evans with the cryptic comment: "...Doubtless Birmingham will take its proper place by and by."

Sat 12 March at Handsworth, Birmingham. A match at bagatelle, chess and draughts between Handsworth and Oldbury working men's clubs. (3-a-side.) Of 8 draughts games played, 6 were won by Corbett, Harris and Lamb for Handsworth and one by Gregory for Oldbury, with one game drawn.

1 April. The Draught-board published a game won by David Kirkwood playing blindfold against Mr. Benbow of Birmingham - a relative of "the old seadog". This was the first blindfold game in England to appear in print.

Sat 2 April at Oldbury. Return match at bagatelle, chess and draughts between the working men's clubs of Oldbury and Handsworth. The vistors won the draughts match.

Sun 1 May. The Draught-board published a report from T. Evans on a lecture on the "Game of Draughts" delivered by David Kirkwood ("Denny") at the Secular Club and Institute, St. George's Hall, Birmingham. Afterwards Kirkwood played two of the best players present, blindfold, and won easily.

Oct. Return match at bagatelle, chess and draughts between Handsworth Working Men's Cub and Great Bridge Reading Room and Library. Handsworth won at draughts by 4 games to nil. Venour beat J. Cotterell by 2-0 and Harris beat J. Cherrington by 2-0.

Fri 9 Dec. at Dudley. At a meeting of the Board of Guardians the Visiting Committee recommended the introduction of dominoes and draughts to the imbecile wards!


Thurs 13 April at Aston Villa Road, Birmingham. Handsworth WMC played Severn Street WMC, of Five Ways, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Visitors won 12-8 , 0 draws.

3 A. Venour 0 J. Winters 2
0 C. Burrows 0 H. Brewin 3
2 T. Ashford 0 M. Humphreys 3
2 T. Lacey 0 A. Welsford 2
1 J. Harris 0 J. Cole 2
8   0   12

The match continued with chess and bagatelle on 20 April at Five Ways.

Sat 13 May at Kidderminster. Kidderminster Mechanics' Institute vs Severn Street Working Men's Club (Birmingham). The home side won a chess match, 6-a-side, by 12-3 and 2 draws, but lost the draughts match by 12-24 and 6 draws:

3 King 0 Brewin 4
0 F. Fawcett 0 Humphreys 7
4 Lamb 2 Cole 1
2 Varney 3 Welsford 2
2 Orr 1 Winters 4
1 Cane 0 McIlroy 6
12   6   24

Sat 10 June in the rooms of the Severn Street Working Men's Club, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Return chess and draughts match vs Kidderminster Mechanics' Institute. The home side won the chess match by 10-8, no draws, and the draughts match by 25-15 and 2 draws.

4 Brewin 1 King 2
3 Humphreys 1 Lamb 3
1 McIlroy 0 Varney 6
6 Cole 0 Greenwood 1
6 Welsford 0 Fawcett 1
5 Winters 0 Orr 2
25   2   15

Thurs 22 June at Great Bridge, Tipton. Great Bridge Institute played a return match with Five Ways Working Men's Club, Birmingham. The visitors won at chess, draughts and French bagatelle. The draughts score was 27-11 and 4 draws.

1 Beard 0 Brewin 6
0 Stokes 0 R. Humphreys 7
0 Norton 0 Corbett 7
5 Rea 1 Winter 1
0 Wall 3 M. Humphreys 4
5 Clayton 0 McIlroy 2
11   4   27

Sat 9 Sept in Birmingham. Five Ways Club, Edgbaston, vs the Chess Club of the Kidderminster Church of England Mutual Improvement Society . The home side won the 8-a-side chess match by 12-8, 3 draws. Representatives of working men's clubs of both towns played draughts and bagatelle matches. The home team won the draughts match by 22-4 and 2 draws.

4 Brewin 1 King 2
4 Humphreys 1 Lamb 2
7 Corbett 0 Harris 0
7 Welsford 0 Milnes 0
22   2   4

Sat 23 Dec. Handsworth Working Men's Club vs Five Ways Club, Edgbaston, at chess and draughts. Five Ways won the draughts match by 23-5 and 1 draw.

0 Massey 1 Corbett 4
1 Ryland 0 Walsford 4
1 Jenpens 0 Brewin 4
2 Cartwright 0 R. Humphreys 3
0 Barker 0 M. Humphreys 5
1 Venour 0 Winters 3
5   1   23


World Champion James Wyllie of Scotland visited Birmingham. David Kirkwood drew 9 out of 11 games with white.


Sat 2 May at Great Bridge Reading Room and Library, Tipton. Return match at chess, draughts and bagatelle vs Oldbury. The visitors won at draughts by 10-5 and 4 draws.

0 E. Clayton 4 G. Beach 5
3 C. Norton 0 J. Gregory 2
2 T. Cottrell 0 W. Round 3
5   4   10


Sat 2 Sept. The Leamington Courier reported on the monthly meeting of the Free Library Committee. As an experiment the playing of chess and draughts had been allowed in the reference library for the previous 3 months. In spite of some complaints about noisy players it was decided to continue the trial for a further 3 months.


Secular Club members bought the remainder of the lease (32 years) on 18, Crescent, Birmingham.

Fri 1 June: The foundation stone was laid for a lecture hall at the rear.


Edward Lord played about 6 simultaneous blindfold games.

R.T. Ward was born.

Wed 24 July. Foundation stone was laid for the King's Heath and Moseley Institute, Birmingham. Rooms to be laid out for playing chess, draughts, etc.

Tue 30 July in Park Street, Walsall. A new coffee and cocoa house was opened by the Wolverhampton Coffee and Cocoa House Company. One room was devoted to chess and draughts.

Tue 24 Dec in Coventry. Opening of The Mayor's Parlour by the Coventry Coffee Tavern Co. Ltd. In his opening speech the mayor said that there would be "accommodation for chess, draughts, and thoughtful games of that class."

HOME | News | Calendar | A Brief History | Timeline | List of Champions | Games | Photo Gallery | Contact | Officers| Competition Rules | Miscellany