In an endeavour to pull together the history of the South Shields Chess Club, we have discovered that the club was established in 1866. We can also say from the book of minutes of the AGMs, currently being looked after by the present Treasurer Stanley Johnson, was that the club was formally restarted on the 6th December 1944. The Toc H with their accustomed generosity donated Four Pounds and also offered the use of their headquarters in South Shields to base the club. This was at Talbot House in Westoe Village.
Delving into history gives one the opportunity to discover often forgotten things. Toc H had its origins in a soldiers’ club on the Western Front during the First World War and grew into an international organisation that still exists to this day offering Christian friendship, especially to servicemen in wartime. One can only imagine what it might have been like for returning soldiers to South Shields after the Second World War. Organizations like Toc H helped in anyway they could. Chess is often seen as gentle pastime, but to play it well it needs a lot of dedication and concentration – it no doubt has therapeutic powers.
The first committee was formed and Mr George W Plater was appointed Chairman, Mr Arnold L Friends was President, Mr E J Hutton Secretary and Mr J E Gibson Treasurer. The very first open Chess night was held on Wednesday 13th December 1944 and match nights were Wednesdays and Fridays with subscriptions set at 5 shillings. Interesting to note that the club is now in its 70th year since reforming.
Since the club reformed and played its first matches at Talbot House, it has played at various venues around South Tyneside including The Marine and Technical College, St Hilda’s Church and Ocean Road Community Center. Currently matches are played at the New Ship Inn.