SHEFFIELD Chess History



Wesley College Chess Team/Club

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The site of King Edward VII school on Glossop Road originally started out as the Wesleyan Proprietary Grammar School.  It was completed in 1838, at a cost of more than £10,000, which was on top of the £4,500 paid for the six acres of land.  It had accommodation for about 250 boarders.


It soon became known, by royal patent, as Wesley College.


(Click here for an advertisement for Wesley College is taken from White’s General Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham &c, 1856, page 671.)


Wesley College operated contemporarily with Sheffield Collegiate School, on Collegiate Crescent, and probably had to play second fiddle to the Collegiate School which appears to have been the premier establishment in the area for the education of the sons of gentlemen.


From 1847 to the later 1870s, the only chess club in Sheffield for most of the time was that associated with the Sheffield Athenaeum (gentlemen’s) Club.


Some of the masters at both Sheffield Collegiate College and Wesley College were members of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club.


The strongest such player was Edmund Thorold, who was educated at Sheffield Collegiate School and Magdalen College, Oxford, and was later deputy head at Sheffield Collegiate School before settling in Bath.  Edmund Thorold was one of the strongest “provincial” players of his day.


Early Chess-Players at Wesley College


Carl Wehnert, German master at Wesley College during the period 1849 to 1856 (at least), and also at Sheffield Collegiate school in 1857 (at least), was briefly a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, in 1851.


Joseph Louis Meöt de Montmusard, usually referred to as “Mons. Meot”, was listed as French master at Wesley College in 1856.  Though he appears to have been a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, in the sense of paying a chess club subscription, only in 1848, he featured as a participant in the club tournament of 1875.


George Elam, commercial master mentioned in the above advert, at least over the period 1849 to 1856, appears to have been the father of Dr. Charles Elam who, though apparently not a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, nevertheless attended the 1863 meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association held in Sheffield.  It’s possible George pushed the odd pawn from time to time.


Wesley College Chess Team


Even before the formation of the Sheffield & District Chess Association in 1883, there were a number of chess clubs in Sheffield, with a fairly full schedule of informal inter-club chess matches being played during the season.  Whilst Wesley College seems not to have been involved in the formation of the S&DCA, it did field a team in matches against other clubs around that time.


Whether individual players were staff, pupils or neither, isn’t immediately clear.  One player, E. E. Sibray, was clearly Ernest Edward Sibray, who was a 13-year-old boarding pupil at Wesley College in 1881, and so presumably was a 16-year-old pupil in the 1884 match below.  Players such as H. A. Rossell and the Shuttleworths were not teaching staff (but might have been governors?).  It could been that Wesley College was merely being used as a venue convenient for those living in the area; H. A. Rossell lived on Brocco Bank, within walking distance of the College, in 1881.  Whether they ever met as a club as such is also unclear.


The following match was reported in the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of 15th March 1883:



A pleasant match was played on Saturday evening between the above chess clubs, resulting in a victory by Abbeydale of seven games to three.  The play was as follows:-”


Wesley College


Abbeydale Chess Club

Mr. W. A. Williams


Mr. W. Cockayne

Mr. H. A. Russell [sic]


Mr. T. G. Shuttleworth

Mr. T. H. Miller


Mr. J. W. Barber

Mr. Cox


Mr. Jonathan Barber

Mr. F. Hudson


Mr. E. Shuttleworth

Mr. Warrington


Mr. H. J. Thomas





(H. A. Russell is presumably H. A. Rossall who features frequently in the records.)

(E. Shuttleworth was possibly Thomas Edward Shuttleworth, son of Thomas George Shuttleworth, being known perhaps as Edward.)


In was common in those days to attempt to play two games at each board, time permitting.  Thus at some boards only one game was contested (no clocks, of course), whereas the faster-playing players managed to get in two games.  Matches were even played in those days even with three matches at each board, time permitting.


The following match was reported in the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of 12th April 1884:



This match took place at the College, the result being a victory for the latter.  Subjoined is the full score:-”




Wesley College

Mr. E. Barraclough


Mr. H. A. Rossell

Mr. T. W. Fisher


Mr. W. A. Williams

Mr. W. L. Shaw


Mr. J. Shearer

Mr. H. W. Pickering


Mr. T. E. Shuttleworth

Mr. S. Scott


Mr. E. E. Sibray

Mr. H. C. Twist


Mr. F. Hudson





(T. E. Shuttleworth was a son of the above T. G. Shuttleworth.  His connection with Wesley College is unclear.)


King Edward VII Grammar School


In time Wesley College became King Edward VII Grammar School for boys, run by the local council.  A number of local chess-players used to attend “King Ted’s”, including Geoff Frost, Steve Mann and the late Barry Wardle.  In those days King Ted’s habitually won the Sheffield schools chess league run by the S&DCA, and reached the semi-finals of the Sunday Times schools competition at the first attempt, in the late 1960s.  Later chess-playing pupils at King Ted’s included Ken Kay and Paul Bailey.





Copyright © 2012 & 2013 Stephen John Mann

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