Plymouth Bridge Club History

The club, as constituted at present, was formed from an amalgamation of the Tudor Bridge Club and the Plymouth Bridge Club Limited in 1970.

The Tudor Bridge Club was the off-shoot of a North Country Society which was formed in 1946 by Jim Pledger. Meetings of this Society were held in the Tudor Café, Whimple Street and auction bridge became a regular feature at these gatherings, eventually becoming the raison d'être of the Society.

The Tudor Café closed in the late 1940s and the newly formed Tudor Bridge Club moved to a café in Lockyer Street. With rationing still in force, refreshments were difficult to organise, but an even greater difficulty was experienced in obtaining a licence for the purchase of timber to make card tables, which were eventually constructed and covered (with old army blankets) by Wilf Scholefield.

Members played rubber bridge only until the advent of the first post-war Congress in 1950, which was held in the Grand Hotel on the Hoe. This was organised by Mrs F Northcott and Noel Vinson and its success led to the formation of the South West Devon Section of the DCCBA, and the revival of duplicate bridge in the City.

Duplicate had been popular prior to 1939 and the very first Plymouth Congress was held in the Moorland Links Hotel in 1937. It was organised by Mrs Rawle and Francis Hastings-James and was attended by Colonel 'Pops' Beasley (co-founder and Chairman of Crockfords), winner of the Gold Cup in 1932, and his well-known bridge team.

The Tudor Club had to leave its meeting place in Lockyer Street and moved into the Duke of Cornwall Hotel, but found this arrangement too expensive, so another change of location was made to rooms in the Conservative Association Office on Mutley Plain. In 1956, the Club was invited to use the facilities of the Proprietary Bridge Club, at 1 Moor View Terrace, which had been opened in 1955 by Colonel and Mrs Roy Telfer.

Colonel and Mrs Roy Telfer sold their interest in this proprietary club to the Plymouth Bridge Club Limited, which was set up with a share capital of £2,520 (made up from interest free loans given by the majority of the members at the time) in 1963 with Francis Hastings-James as the first Chairman and Treasurer of the Board of Directors.

The club's activities at this time consisted of sessions of duplicate pairs on Tuesdays (Tudor) and Thursdays (Plymouth Club) with two sessions of rubber bridge per week. Every effort was made to improve standards and membership. Nico Gardiner gave two lectures at the club during March 1964 and classes for learners were held on Monday evenings. Instruction over the years at these classes was given by Joan Till, Wilf Scholefield, Bill Jordan, Alice Bridgewater, Noel Vinson and Harry Haydon and were so popular that the BBC made a filmed report on one occasion.

At a meeting on 29 December 1969, the implications of the 1968 Gaming Act were discussed and resulted in the amalgamation of the Plymouth Bridge Club and the Tudor Bridge Club to form the present Plymouth (Members) Bridge Club.

The first meeting of the new members' club was held on 19 February 1970 with 53 members present under the Chairmanship of Mrs Ursula Haydon when Walter Parson was elected as the first Chairman of the new club.

An extraordinary General Meeting of the Plymouth Bridge Club Limited was held on 23 February 1970 when it was agreed that the premises and contents of 1 Moor View Terrace should be sold to the new Members' Club for £2,520 – a generous settlement by the Limited Company's officials and shareholders which ensured the future prosperity of the club.

On 15 May 1970, Noel Vinson successfully presented the Club for registration before the Plymouth Gaming Licensing Committee and despite an impressive list of advocates representing more commercial interests, it is of interest to note that the Club's registration (for a fee of £20) was the very first to be made in the Plymouth area, as required by the new Act of Parliament.

V.J. Gibson 1982

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