Club History

St Albans Chess Club [1] held its first meeting on Thursday 28th March 1878 in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. It was attended by 26 players. Shortly afterwards, the club began meeting at Queens Hotel (now TSB Bank) in Chequer Street on Thursday evenings, between 6.00 and 11.00pm.

In its first full season (1878-79), the club organised a programme of friendly matches against local clubs. The first of these was against Luton, played at home on 14th November 1878 and away on 19th December 1878. Although Luton won the first leg (St Albans 6 v 9 Luton), St Albans took the second (Luton 9 v St Albans 11) resulting in the match being drawn.

Matches soon followed against Hertingfordbury, Harpenden, Ware and Watford.

Below is a list of the club's principal officers (work in progress).




Hon. Secretary





 Dr Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell  2011    Robert Collopy  2019    Simon Narbeth  2012
 John Simmons  2005    Aidan Ellis  2016    Austin McMahon  1987 (25 years)
       Ian Cross  2011      
       Peter Haywood  2010      
       Dr Mike Lexton  2007      
 Ray Claret  1981    Dr Ian Gooding        
 John Leake      Tony Turner        
       Alec Torry        
 E.J. Fairchild  1930    G.F. Ramsay  1929      
 Sir E.T.A. Wigram  1922    L.F. Allengame  1920      
 E.R. Mitchell  1918    E.C. Harris  1912      
 E.J. Fairchild  1916    E.R. Mitchell  1897      
 E.T.A. Wigram  1914    F.B. Gibson  1893      
 ?  1907    J. Rogers  1885      
 H.F. Lindley  1878 (29 years)    George F. Gibbs  1878      


1. Although the whereabouts of the minute book and other records prior to the 1930's are unknown, many of the chess clubs early activities were reported in local newspapers. The Herts Advertiser, for instance, which is published weekly has articles covering the chess club's inaugural meeting, matches against other clubs, a match conducted by telephone (when home telephones were rare), and simultaneous exhibition matches by leading players (Isidor Gunsberg, José Raúl Capablanca).

2. An archive of local newspapers is held on microfilm at Hertfordshire Archive and Local Studies section of the Hertfordshire Library Service.