by David Evans

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

Thornbury Chess Club was started in 1963 as the first member group of the newly formed Community Association. There were no premises to start with and we used to play at members' houses, mainly at Lionel Elton's, he being the leading spirit of the Community Association and a chess player as well. There were nine or ten of us but only Geoff Hamilton, David Evans and Bill Jones remain from those days. When the Association acquired premises (the Old Cinema in Thornbury High Street, now demolished) we joined Division 6 of the Bristol League for the 1964/65 season. There we first met the Yatton team with whom we have had a close rivalry for four seasons, during which we rose together to Division 2. Yatton always won the divisional championship, but we held our own in matches. From Division 2, unfortunately, our ways parted until this season; Yatton spending most of their time in Division 1, whereas Thornbury have stayed mainly in 2 with brief returns to 3.

Early in this period, Thornbury moved to much better premises in the Chantry and since then the club has increased considerably in size and currently runs five teams in the Bristol League. This increased size has not yet been reflected in the 'A' team level, in fact we still have no regular players to match the players we have had in the past: Ian Brook, John Cullum, Ray Hill, David Hill and Jeff Blumson (though rarely more than two at any one time). Tony Hewitt was beginning to reach this standard, but is now at University. However, the club spirit is very good, encouraged by having a separate club night, not used for League matches. Several competitions are organised and, for a number of years now, considerable efforts have been made to further junior chess in the area and these are continuing, we hope in an even more effective manner in the future.

1997 postscript: Thornbury still play at the Chantry and are still a second division side, though they have often been close to promotion and did have a brief sojourn in the first division in 1989-90. - JR