Club History


Club founding

Stroud Chess Club was founded at the beginning of January 1890 by Mr. William Moffatt (chairman), Mr. W. A. P. Hughes (hon. sec.), Mr. T. L. Fairweather (treasurer). The venue was the Imperial Hotel, next to Stroud train station which has recently reopened as 'The Stroud'. 

They met on Monday and Thursday evenings. There were 25 members at its inception.

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Newspaper report from 1890 of the preliminary meeting of the Stroud Chess Club.

The British Chess Company, Stroud

The founders, Moffatt and Hughes were notable for being co founders of another chess related enterprise. They founded The British Chess company (BCC), which manufactured chess sets, operating from Stroud. They created many types of chessmen, but their 'improved Staunton' set (shown below) was an innovative product for its economic decision to manufacture the knights which could cost up to 50% of the total manufacturing costs of the pieces. They used a material called Xylonite, commonly used in guitar plectrums to mould the knights. With the savings, they double collar the pawns for strength, add extra weight to the pieces, and still managed to sell them for half the price of competitors. They unfortunately weren't able to compete with the likes of Jacques of London and after 20 years were forced to call it a day.

Publicity for the British Chess Company's 'Improved Staunton' chess set.

William Moffat

William Moffat was also the editor of 'Chess Amateur' magazine. This monthly magazine was also printed in Stroud and ran from 1906-1930.

He also designed sets for the blind, published chess books and more.

Follow the link here to learn more about him and his life.

Front page of The Chess Amateur, May 1916.

Just two weeks after forming, Stroud hosted a simultaneous game with Reverend C. E Rankin (some of whose games are analysed in Wilhelm Steinitz’s book ‘Modern Chess Instructor’), during which three out of eight Stroud players managed a draw.

William Paley Hughes

The club, and chess company's other founder,  W P Hughes, appears to have been a particularly strong player.

He competed in the British Championship in 1910, achieving a draw playing white against 9 time British Champion,  H.E Atkins. For the masochists, the queen's gambit declined draw can be played through below.

Game title

Joseph Henry Blackburne

Joseph Henry Blackburne

In November of the same year, Joseph Henry Blackburne, made an appearance at the club. He would regularly tour the country performing simultaneous exhibitions at local clubs. He was the English champion at the time and nicknamed  ‘The Black Death’. Then a top 5 player in the world, and namesake of the dubious (but dangerous):

'“Blackburne Shilling Gambit” (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?!) because he purportedly used it to win quickly against amateurs, thus winning the shilling wagered on the game.’ []

 5 out of 17 Stroud members managed draws in the event.

A few years later, in 1895 and the club was still going strong. W.B. Strugnell now standing as secretary of Stroud Chess Club,  in addition to his responsibilities with Cheltenham chess club.

W. Bishop Strugnell

W.B. Strugnell lived in Hampden Villa on Slad Road.  Besides chess, he was a solicitor and naturalist and co-wrote a reference book called 'The Flora and Fauna of Gloucestershire. He had a son who was a navy commander aboard HMS Hawke, and later in life he worked as a colonial magistrate in Trindidad.

He had been daubed in his obituary as ‘assisting in resuscitating, if not inaugurating the Chess Club in Stroud.’ and mentions how he ‘took the greatest pleasure in the game’ and apparently owned 'a considerable collection of interesting natural objects'.

Read W. B Strugnell Obituary

On the 18th of February 1897, the first recorded interclub match for the club took place against Gloucester, where Stroud lost 4 points to 6 across 10 boards. Samuel May Strange (listed as S.C Strange here) and John Rowell both become  regular figures going forward.

Samuel May Strange

Samuel lived on in Minchinhampton and owned a grocers on King Street, he married a Miss Ethel Hobbs who was an accountant.

John Rowell

According to research by a representative of Stroud Rugby club, John Rowell was (later) the managing clerk to local solicitors 'Little & Bloxam' and was owner of the rugby club's pitch and, judging by his actions in their artile linked below, clearly a good sport;

In November 1897 Stroud came up second again, this time a slightly closer affair against Cirencester across nine boards. The match took place at the King’s Head Hotel which is still open to this day.


Stroud School of Art

(DALL-E 3)

Friday 6th of April 1900 and the club was now meeting at the School of Art with a new president, Dr. Hardy. It states that they played 4 games across the season between. Gloucester and Ciren, results were  W2/D1/L1

The club handicap tournament prizes, kindly donated by Dr. Hardy, included a presentation staunton chess set, a slightly less fancy set of chessmen, and a chessboard. They had 24 members and hoped for at least 4 new ones  the following season.

Article covering end of season meeting 

Dr Henry L.P. Hardy

In 1912 he resigned from the British Medical Association in protest against its halt in negotiations over the National Insurance Act. He disagreed with the decision, believing it compromised professional and public interests. His stand highlighted his commitment to healthcare and fair practice within the medical community.

Dr. Henry L.P. Hardy, was a respected and principled physician at Rowcroft surgery. 

The article below is from the Cheltenham Chronicle, 15 January 1910, covering the first day of the first of two general elections that year after much social disquiet over the “people’s budget”. 

The “people’s budget’ was a budget introduced the previous year by the UK's Liberal government, aimed at redistributing wealth and funding social welfare programs by imposing new taxes on the wealthy and landowners. Notable for its progressive approach, it seeked to address poverty and inequality, it led to significant political conflict, ultimately contributing to the constitutional crisis of 1911 and eventually the reduction in power of the house of Lords. The speeches were taking place at the Sub Rooms where, just after rioters had been ejected, Dr. Hardy took a spirited stand and publicly announced a switch in his allegiance and his support for the Liberal Party. 

Stroud’s new chairman was no stranger to protest at all! many years later in 1921 he voices his dismay in the Echo, over the unsanitary and conditions he found the body of a man he was sent to examine, who had died falling from a tall wall outside of a pub, and whose body had been moved to a dirty stable. By chance, the coroner involved in the case was teammate Mr A. J Morton Ball. 

Lansdown Hall

Back at the club, in late September 1900,  their room at the School of Art seemingly short lived, Stroud Chess Club has moved again - This time to Lansdown hall. Mr. Strugnell is joined in his role as secretary by John Rowell.

A Plea for Chess

December 1901, A spirited plea in the Citizen regarding the popularity (or lack thereof) of chess in Gloucester, and an equally spirited response from a Stroud player. 

William John Greenstreet M.A, F.R.A.S

To learn more about Greenstreet, his obituaries are available to read here:

October 1902 and Dr Hardy steps down to deputy, making way for the mathematician and Marling headmaster at the time, William John Greenstreet M.A. F.R.A.S (Fellow of the royal astronomical society), editor of the Mathmetical Gazette, and founding member of the Mathmatical Society.

  Mr. Strugnell also resigned  his position as joint  secretary, leaving it to  Mr. J. Rowell who remained in the role alone.

They planned to introduce more clubs into the following season’s fold and Dr. Hardy offered more prizes for a planned club tournament.

A first mention of the first of two Mr. Morton Balls here, father and son, the younger J.R was a coroner, registrar, solicitor, future Stroud Chess Club president and councillor.  A. J, clearly the lazier and less successful of the two, worked only as a coroner, registrar, solicitor and future Stroud Chess Club president.  

Rev. Edward James

A win for Stroud against Gloucester in November 1903, the Gloucester side featuring their president Rev. E. B. James, who a few years earlier had managed a win with black against the world champion, Emanual Lasker, in a simultaneous game seen below.

Prizes galore

Gloucester didn’t have to wait long for their revenge though, which came just a month later in December 1903.

More end of season prizes in April 1904 after a clean sweep year for the club  - this time a presentation board with set, and pair of Worcester china vases donated by Mr A. J. Morton Ball, the new club president.

In 1905 though,  it was a set of Ivorine chessmen and Mendelssohn organ sheet music - how cultured!

Chess Drama

An unhappy John Rowell, Stroud secretary, writes to complain about a comment on a position by the Citizen before its official adjudication. (Adjudication involved submitting unfinished games to a third party adjudicator who would assess the position and grant it as a win, loss or draw.)

Whether influenced or not by the papers, Blackburne agreed with the summation and granted the win to Gloucester. Here is the position were the game was stopped. What do you think?

The end of the 1906 season saw yet more prizes, this time including a silver knight trophy and a book of Marshall’s chess openings.  and a new president  (Mr R.E Stuart),

New Venue: 

Bedford Street Club

With the start of a new season looming, what else but another new venue? This time the Bedford Street club. It’s unclear where this was but apparently a games group used to meet in the nearby church’s hall, so that’s a possibility.

'Chess is for all'

Mr Caslake Winter-Wood cannily predicts the explosion of chess addiction to come over the next century or so in an excerpt from Willam Moffatt’s chess journal.

A solid win for Stroud against Cirencester in 1907.

HG Bockett Pugh

HG Bockett Pugh was a board one player, and columnist in The Chess Amateur, he ran the Q&A section.

He was also the secretary for the Gloucestershire Chess Association and later moved to Bath.

1907’s end of season prizes include handsome silver candlesticks and a case of what I can only assume are carving knives. Perhaps the members all had enough chess sets by then?

Angell's Restaurant

1908; Another year, another venue!  Mr. Wesley Whitfield, an engineer from Dudbrigdge is made Secretary, with Mr. J. Rowell instead, content with the role of match captain. This year’s season saw Swindon and Charlton Kings added to the list of opponents.


The Imperial Hotel

A few results from the 1910 season, including an, apparently newsworthy, mention of tea being provided by Cirencester at the Bingham Hall. The season also featured a streak of 4 drawn matches in a row against Swindon, in a deadlock which must have felt a Sisyphean feat to break.

General Sir Harcourt Mortimer Bengough KCB

Now playing for Stroud was General Sir Harcourt Mortimer Bengough KCB, a veteran of the Crimean, Anglo-Zulu and Third Anglo-Burmese wars. In his 70s at this time and surely in contention for moustache of the universe competition, Wikipedia references some other, perhaps less wholesome sporting interests: “In his memoirs he gives an account of his adventures in the realm of sport — pig-sticking, tiger-shooting, and pursuing other forms of game in India and elsewhere.”. 

Joan Hardy & Dr. Michael West

1911's match results see the first mentions of Dr. Hardy's daughter, Joan Hardy, and to our knowledge the first female club player.

She goes on to become a physician by trade, and in 1920 marries a Dr. Michael West. Dr. West was a colonial English teacher in Bangladesh, where Miss Hardy eventually moved to with him after their marriage. The report covering their wedding has been included in full as it's an interesting read.

The article is particularly interesting to us because it gives us some insight into a set and board the club has in its possession, donated to the club by her widowed husband after her death. Not much was known about it before, it is a Staunton style set made by Jacques of London - if anybody knows anything else about it please do get in touch.

"Presented to Stroud Chess Club by Doctor Michael West in memory of his wife, Joan Hardy"

(DALL-E 3)



There was a large gathering at Stroud Parish Church on Saturday afternoon when Miss Joan Hardy, eldest daughter of Dr. Henry L. P. Hardy, of Rowcroft, Stroud, was married to Mr. Michael Philip West, son of the Rev. D. G. H. West, Vicar of Selsley. The bride is in the medical profession and holds the degrees of M.R.C.S.E., L.R.C.P., London, and D.P.H., London, while the bridegroom, a B.A., Oxon., and L.E.S., is Principal of Dacca Training College, India. 

The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a gown of creme de chine and brocade, with orange blossom wreath, veil, and bouquet.

There was one bridesmaid, her sister. Miss Marjory Hardy, who wore a creme de chine dress trimmed with black cherries and green leaves around the waist. 

She wore a pearl and aquamarine pendant, and gold chain, the gift of the bridegroom, who also gave her the choice bouquet she carried. 

The Rev. G. West, brother of the bridegroom, was best man, and the ceremony was performed by the Rev. A. W. Swayne (Vicar of Stroud) and the Rev. Dr. G. H. West. Afterwards a reception was held by Mr. and Mrs. Hardy at the Holloway Institute. The honeymoon is being spent in the South of France. 

The bride's travelling dress was navy blue serge coat & skirt with Burberry coat and grey velour hat. The future address of Mr. and Mrs. West will be Dacca, Bengal India. There were a great many beautiful presents."

Dr. West, playing chess (right)

To read more about Dr Michael West, visit:

1912 Club Meeting

Mr. S.W Billings (who?)

1914 match results

1915 Club Meeting





Formation of North Gloucestershire Chess League


The NGCA was formed in 1924, the year of writing this, 2024 marks it's 100th season.

All three founding clubs Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud play in the league to this day. 

They were also planning a summer Gambit tournament to be played in Birdlip.

Late 1920s, Bristol Rivalry





Mr George Woodman Powell

In 1929 Stroud hosted a social knock-out lightning tournament.  Cheltenham won divisions 1 and 4, while Cirencester took the win in division 2.

New club president George Woodman Powell was director of his late father's company, Howard & Powell, Wallbridge mill. 

They had the royal warrant for riding breeches and produced huge amount of bezier floth for billiards tables. G.W. Powell would travel around the world, making deals for export. According to this article by the Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal for 2004, the Scandinavian countries preferred a lighter green while customers in the Caribbean were more experimental and preferred more adventurous shades, like bright yellow.

The article also says he would, in 1930, also become chairman or Stroud Rural District Council, and worked as a magistrate.





Thomas Henry  Blanch



Changing of the Guard





Empire Champions Visit Stroud


1948: Stroud win league and make county final.

People: J. Stiassny

Also in 1948, the first mention of J. Stiassny




Dowty Equipment Ltd.


Stroud wins for two Stroud players in 1961. Mr. Brian H. Hare and, Mr Ron O Powis, who to my knowledge the first member who our current members knew and remember.

People: Mr. Brian H. Hare

People: Mr. Ron O. Powis

Club meeting, 1961

The Father Sharpe Cup

Also mentioned in the 61 club meeting above was one of the club's trophies. There are no records of Father Sharpe playing for the club, but I did find an interesting obituary belonging to him. He left his collection of chess books and sets to the club, so there is a chance he was a benefactor before his death as well. He also left his house and furniture to a convent to be used as a nursing home. Other benefactors included 50 pounds to his gardener, two guineas each to his three postmen and local policeman, a gold tipped ceremonial cane to a fellow bishop, and a James II brooch containing a lock of his hair. The article was unspecific about whether it were James II's hair or his own. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the former.


Stroud's First Female President

People: Mrs. S. Jeffries


People: Mrs. M. Powis

A Mysterious Stranger