Yorkshire Chess History



Walter Atkinson











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



21/06/1866, Hull



01/06/1939, St. Leonards‑on‑Sea



Identity of the Chess-Player


“W. Atkinson” features as one of Hull’s stronger players around the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Identifying the one which is the chess-player isn’t easy, but occasional references to “Walter Atkinson” combined with the span of the chess-playing career of “W. Atkinson, Hull” narrow if down, seemingly, to one possibility.


Some sources suggest he was born 21/06/1866 and died 01/06/1939.  Finding an original source with that birth date isn’t easy.  The death date is that of a Walter Atkinson who died at St. Leonard’s-on-Sea, Sussex, and whose estate’s probate was granted to a solicitor, and a Helen Atkinson who was a widow, though not necessarily his widow – possibly a brother’s wife.


I’m not yet wholly convinced that the Walter Atkinson described here is the correct one, but there seems no other candidate.


Enigmatically, the British Chess Magazine of 1903, page 167, refers to the 1898 and 1903 Yorkshire Champion as “Wm. Atkinson”, so maybe “W. Atkinson” was a William, not a Walter, and maybe there was one of each at different times.


Non-Chess Life


Walter Atkinson’s parents were John Atkinson (born 1840/41, Hull) and Martha Atkinson (born 1838/39, Hull).  They appear to have had three children, all born in Hull:


Thomas B Atkinson

born 1861/62

Frederick B (or W) Atkinson

born 1863/64

Walter Atkinson

born 1866/67


The 1861 census found John and Martha, as yet without children, living at Regent Street, Hull.  John was described as a clerk.


In the 1871 census Martha was described as a clerk’s widow.  She had all three boys living with her at 64 Hessle Road, Hull.  John Atkinson must have died at some time from 1866 to 1871, most probably not long before the census as Martha had no stated occupation to support her family.


The 1881 census found the family, except for Thomas, still living at 64 Hessle Road.  Martha was a draper and tobacconist.  Frederick and Walter were both merchant’s clerks.


The 1891 census found just Walter living with his mother, now at 8a Granville Street, in the Newington area of Hull.  Martha was living on her own means, while Walter was a clerk.  They had a boarder.


Walter Atkinson married Mary Alice Kirby, the marriage being registered in Sculcoates in the third quarter of 1892.  By the time of the 1911 census the couple had had six children of which only three survived.  The three survivers were as follows:


Gladys Atkinson

born 1893/94, Hull

Alice Muriel

born 1897/98, Withernsea

Stanley Beecroft Atkinson

born 1899/00, Hull


Identifying the three children dying in infancy is very difficult as, on a preliminary search, at least eight “Atkinson” children died from 1892 to 1896 within the first three years of life.  Why Alice was born at Withernsea isn’t evident.


The 1901 census found 34-year-old Walter, Mary and the three children living at 57 Trinity Street, Hull.  Walter appears to have been described as a “grocery warehouse keeper’s manager”, though the wording is difficult to decipher.


By the 1911 census, when the family was living at 43 Louis Street, Hull, Walter had become a corn merchant.


He was recorded as a Hull chess-player as late as 1925, but appears to have moved to the Sussex coast in the next fourteen years, as described below.




If the above-mentioned date of death is correct, then it would seem Walter Atkinson moved in time to 9 Blomfield Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, were a Walter Atkinson died on 01/06/1939, aged 72, probate being granted to Reginald Lloyd Dawson, solicitor, and Helen Atkinson, widow (presumably not relict, but sister of one of his brothers).  His effects totalled £6,052 9s 10d.  The death of Walter Atkinson, on 01/06/1939, at 9 Blomfield Road, St. Leonards, was reported in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of Saturday 03/06/1939, on page 22.




He played in the Yorkshire-London cable match played on 18/12/1897, in the Yorkshire-Lancashire match played on 19/02/1898 at Manchester, in the Yorkshire-Lancashire match played at Manchester on 03/02/1900, and thereafter played regularly for Yorkshire in the NCCU county team championship.


It was not until 1901-02 that “W. Atkinson” played regularly in the Hull Woodhouse Cup team, even though Hull had a team in preceding seasons.


At the 1924 BCF Congress, Southend, he played in the First Class, finishing second in section B.  Later in the same year he played for Yorkshire against Surrey in the English Counties’ championship semi-final on 11/10/1924 at the St. Bride’s Institute, London.


At the 1925 BCF Congress, Stratford-on-Avon, he played in the Major Open.


(These are just random snippets from his chess career.)





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information

Last Updated