Bristol Omnibus

by R Day

A history of the chess club, published in the 75th League anniversary issue of the Bristol Chesstimes in 1982.

The Bristol Omnibus chess club was founded in 1945. An inaugural general meeting was held on Thursday December 13th 1945 and the chess club was named "The Bristol Tramways chess club".

The company operated under the name of Bristol Tramways until 1957 although the last tramcar was pushed into Kingswood depot on Good Friday April 11th 1941.

The story goes that Driver Webster and Conductor Arthur Brittan crewed the last evening car from Old Market to Kingswood during an air raid. The tram proceeded through Redfield, St George, and up the steep Two Mile Hill into Kingswood's Regent Street without incident. Then suddenly the dimmed lights flickered out and the car ground to a standstill as a bomb had plunged through St Philips Bridge and disconnected the power station from the remaining tramcar. Eventually, with help from onlookers, the car was pushed to a downward slope and it sailed down the hill into the depot.

I wonder if Driver Webster or Conductor Brittan played chess in those far off war days. Nevertheless, it was similar people who attended that first meeting and got our now familiar Bristol Omnibus chess club off the ground.

The late Mr A Wilson Osborne was the first secretary of the club and continued in that capacity until 1969 when Mr R H Bleadon took over.

The club entered a team in Division 2 of the Bristol chess league in season 1946/47 finishing one point behind the winners and gaining promotion to Division 1 at the first attempt. The B and C teams were formed shortly afterwards, the A team alternating between divs 1 and 2 with few exceptions up to the late 60s.

The club was blessed with some good players in those days, to name a few - A W Osborne, D Jarrett, E Biddick, C Palmer, C Sullivan, C Welch, M Hughes and, more formerly, R Gregory. D Conway, the present captain, and D Moloney, our President, who both played for the club in the early days, are still competing well.

A rule of the club up to about 1966 was that as a player left the company, then he automatically left the chess club, hence perhaps the decline from the top divisions.

We now welcome any player into the club. The A team have been promoted into Division 4 for the coming season; the club will also be running B and C teams in 1982/83.

1997 postscript: In 1992, the club renamed itself Bristol Royals, there no longer being a Bristol Omnibus company. A year later, the club split after facing a large rent increase; some went to South Bristol and most of the A team went to join Cossham. The B team remained as the Royals' only side. Finally, in 1994, the Royals merged with Cabot to become Bristol Cabot. - JR