Notes on the History of Rottingdean Bridge Club
The club was founded at a meeting on 5th February 1974 with the opening meeting at the Whiteway Centre on 3rd April 1974.
The founding members were:
- Mr. S. Silverman Chairman
- Mrs. Gwen Silverman Secretary
- Mr. Frank Jacobs Treasurer
- Mr. Robert Goodlad Committee member
- Mr. Kershaw Committee member
Location & Scope
From the outset it was decided that the club would meet at the Whiteway Centre, although there was much anxiety if the building would be completed in time for the club opening.
Initially Duplicate Bridge was played on Wednesday and Rubber Bridge on Friday afternoon. Members would elect to be Friday or Wednesday members or for an additional membership fee could play at both. Discussions were held about breaking the club into two separate clubs – a Wednesday Duplicate Bridge club and a Friday Rubber Bridge club!
However, by 1976 support for Rubber Bridge was so low that the club amended the constitution to the provision of Duplicate Bridge only. However, it was not until 1982 that duplicate bridge twice a week, on Wednesday and on Friday was confirmed. Wednesday evenings continued to be the most popular session for many years, for example in 2002 with 10-11 tables and 7-8 tables on Friday.
Initially Rottingdean combined with Saltdean Bridge Club to jointly participate in external competitions.
It was decided to offer membership to the personnel at St. Dunstans with the use of braille cards and the first match was held with St. Dunstans in February 1975.
Progressive Bridge Drives were held once a month on Friday afternoons, when 10 tables were expected, with half the table fees allocated for prizes.
Membership Fees & Costs
At first it was decided to maintain membership fee parity with Saltdean Bridge Club. Accordingly the annual subscription was set at 50p. An initial membership fee of 25p was charged. Table money was 15p for Duplicate and 5p for Rubber bridge. Visitors were charged 25p for Duplicate and 15p for Rubber. Coffee & tea was charged at 5p.
However, by 1976 the annual subscription was raised to £1 largely due to an increase in Whiteway Centre rental costs. By 1980 the subscription was set at £2 for both sessions and £1 for Friday alone but the entrance fee for new members was discontinued.
At the outset baize covers for 12 tables was estimated at £18 (cheaper options to be investigated) but in 1976 the sum of £61.88 was spent on table covers!
Playing cards were budgeted in 1974 at 9 pence per pack in half-gross quantities.
By 1978 £47.28 had been spent on competition trophies, with £6 spent annually engraving them for the winners! These trophies included The Duplicate Pairs Cup and The Turner Goblet.
The club has continued to maintain a sound financial basis, reflecting prudent management with increases in table fees and subscriptions only occurring when strictly necessary.
The first Christmas Party was held on 18th December 1974, with 10 tables, with prizes of Whisky & Sherry and continued to be an annual event, although often it became a New Year Party.
The cost of ashtrays was a concern when the club was founded. By 1980 many members had complained about the smoke and so it was decided to make the period before the tea break non-smoking but allow smoking after the tea break! This remained a contentious point at every AGM until smoking was completely banned.
Subscriptions varied from 56 to 62 during the period from 1976 to 1978, however, by 1980 it had risen to 80, but in 1983 the Committee agreed that it should not exceed 76 due to room limitations. New members would only be admitted if the figure fell below this threshold. Membership remained at this capacity until 1988. By 1995 membership had fallen to 60 but later picked up and maintained at about 73 until 2002. Membership then declined to a low of around 40 but currently has improved to 61.
The high number of visitors remained a concern through the 80’s. At least once that year the club had reached full capacity of 15 tables and could not accommodate late members. A number of rules were then put in place:
- Visitors would be welcome provided that as a consequence no member would be prevented from playing
- St Dunstans personnel would be given priority as visitors
- Friday members of the club could play as visitors on a Wednesday if partnering a Wednesday member
- Visitors would pay a higher table fee (85p in 1990)
- Visitors would be limited to 4 plays per year.
The club was also affiliated to the EBU from the beginning, at a cost of £5 a year and continued to award Master Points. The club took part in various events, for example, the EBU Simultaneous Pairs event to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in 1998. The club continued to pay in county events and simultaneous pairs. In 2004 the club entered 12 pairs in the EBU National Competition.
In 2005 RBC was 6th in the county teams match. However, by 2008 there was insufficient support for the club to take part in any simultaneous pairs or teams events.
When the EBU changed its subscription to a Pay-to-Play basis, whereby all playing members would automatically be members of the EBU. the club voted to leave by 13 votes to 10 and the affiliation ceased on 15th April 2009.
Chair of Rottingdean Bridge Club
1974 – 1975 Mr S Silverman
1975 – 1979 Mr Robert Goodlad
1980 – 1982 Mrs Gwen Silverman
1982 – 1985 Mr Frank Jacobs
1985 – 1986 Mr E Peeling
1986 – 1998 Mr Ramsay Strachan
1998 – 2002 Mrs Fay Andrews
2003 – 2014 Mr Brian Barnard
2014 – Ms Monica Watts
Notable among long serving members of the committee was Mrs. Fay Andrews, who eventually retired from the committee in 2007 after 22 years on the committee having held both chairman and secretary positions.