History of Stockton Bridge Club
Bridge has been played in Stockton since the 1930's but up to 1968 it was as a part of the N.E.B.A. Middlesbrough District playing latterly at the Leeds Hotel and the Jubilee Hall. Neither of these premises was particularly suitable and an alternative, more permanent accommodation was sought. Peter Soutar, a bridge player at Stockton, was General Secretary of the Stockton Y.M.C.A. and was keen to expand the events held there.
The first meeting of the "Stockton Bridge Club" as such was on 30th April 1968 at 7.30pm, this meeting was held at the Y.M.C.A., Bath Lane in Stockton-on- Tees. It was attended by 24 members of the N.E.B.A. Middlesbrough District, who had played regularly at Stockton Duplicate Bridge Tournaments in the previous year. The meeting was presided by Philip Landon who told those present that decisions had to be made that day. Firstly if the next years tournaments should be held at the Y.M.C.A. and secondly whether these would be as part of Middlesbrough District or as a separate club.
Peter Soutar explained the ways in which the facilities of the Y.M.C.A. could be used. The Bridge Club could either hire a room at the Centre at the going rate, or the regular players could become members of theY.M.C.A. at an annual charge and form a Bridge Section, which (to preserve continuity) could be called Stockton Bridge Club (Y.M.C..A.). This would then entitle them to free rooms and basic facilities, including tables and chairs, the club would then only have to provide expendable items. After a brief discussion it was proposed and seconded that an independent "Stockton Bridge Club (Y.M.C.A.)” be formed and that an interim committee (Council) be appointed to draw up rules for the club and to report to members. The committee members were Peter King, Philip Landon, Colin Lambert, George Robson and Bill Whitehead together with Peter Soutar (as General Secretary ex-officio). It was decided that Tuesday's would be the evening for Bridge and that the next session would be Tuesday 14th May 1968 at 7.00pm. There would also be Bridge sessions on Saturday evenings, but unfortunately from September 1970 these ceased due to lack of support.
At the initial council meeting Philip Landon was elected interim Chairman and Treasurer and Colin Lambert was elected as Secretary. A programme of bridge was arranged for the summer and table money was set at 2/- for Y.M.C.A. members and at 4/- for non members. The Secretary was instructed to write seeking affiliation to the North East Bridge Association and the English Bridge Union.
The Inaugural Annual general meeting was held on Tuesday 2nd July 1968 when George Robson was elected as Chairman, Philip Landon as Treasurer and Colin Lambert as Secretary. The secretary reported that the club's affiliation to N.E.B.A. and E.B.U. had been accepted.
George Robson continued as Chairman until 1976 when he did not offer himself for re-election. Joe Richardson was elected but due to other work commitments was unwilling to seek re-election next year. Norman Dykes was elected in 1977 and served as chairman wItil 1998 when he was succeeded by Tony Jackson.Tony remained chairman until 2008 when he was succeeded by Fred Dalton
Philip Landon's role as Treasurer was taken over by Bob Marshall in 1973 who continued until 1980 when family commitments in the States meant he was unable to do the job to his satisfaction. Jim Swales was elected and continued until 1992 when poor health forced him to resign. Colin Thompson was elected at the Annual General meeting and continues for several years before being replaced by David Milnerwho was followed after a few years by David Rossiter.
Colin Lambert's role as Secretary lasted until 1971 when he asked not to be re-elected due to work commitments which would mean long absences from the club. Dave Thomas was elected but had to resign in December 1973 as a promotion at work took him to London. PhilipLandon took over as Secretary and continued until his death in 1998 when Norman Dykes changed his role from Chairman to become Secretary. Norman remained as Secretary until his untimely death in 2008 when Tony Jackson took over for a short time until the AGM that year when David Joy was elected the new Secretary.
In 1978 after 10 years Peter Soutar would no longer be part of the council as he retired from his job as General Secretary of the StocktonY.M.C.A.
From 23rd July 1968 the treasurer requested that table money be increased to 2/6 for members but non members would remain the same.In July 1969 the Y.M.C.A. asked all sections using rooms to contribute. towards their costs because of rising debts. It was agreed that the clubwould pay £50 per year to the Y.M.C.A. In 1971 this charge was doubled to £100 due to the worsening financial situation that the StocktonY.M.C.A. was in and this increased again in 1974 to £125 and to £150 next year. The table money was raised in 1973 from 15p to 20p perplayer and in 1977 it was increased to 25p. In 1984 when the club had to leave the Y.M.C.A. and moved to Billingham the table money was raised to 40p and in 1990 increased to 60p. With the move to the Stockton Parish Church hall in 1992 a further 20p rise was required to meetrising rents and the non-member surcharge was also increased from 20p to 30p.
Congresses were introduced by the club as a way of boosting the funds of the dub. The first "Teesside Open pairs Championship" was fixed for14th September 1968 with N.E.B.A. approval and an E.B.U master point licence obtained. Philip Landon directed the event with assistance from other council members where necessary. Extra tables and boards were borrowed from Darlington Bridge Club and from Crossroads (a club sponsored by I.C.I. where duplicate bridge was played but not E.B.U. affiliated). There were 44 pairs playing in this two session event. In the second year there were 73 pairs entered and it grew until in 1974 there were the maximum of 96 pairs playing with some in reserve. The first "Teesside Open Teams of Four Championship" were arranged for 19th April 1969 and had 18 teams entered. The second event attracted the maximum number of 39 with a number of reserves. In 1974 A “Swiss teams" event was introduced in April which attracted 17 teams and increased to 28 in the next year. All these numbers dropped after 1984 as post Y.M:.C.A. venues were unable to cater for that many people.
In the summer of 1984 the Stockton Y.M.C.A. was declared bankrupt and the building closed and as a result the club had to move. Many venues were inspected by the council but none could be found in Stockton and it was decided to move to Cowpen Hall in Billingham. At this time the club's constitution was amended and the "Y.M.C.A." was dropped from the clubs title. This move proved less than satisfactory and a year later the club moved to Portrack Community Centre. These moves had a detrimental effect on membership and table numbers as some changed their allegiance to Long Newton Bridge Club who also played on Tuesdays. In June 1990 the club moved, in part due to a spate of vandalism at the community centre, to the Stockton Parish Church Hall. Early in 1997 the heating failed in the church hall and the club moved temporarily to Rosehill infants school for a month. Membership of the club and table numbers had been dwindling during the eighties and nineties but ironically the opening of the 8t Georges Bridge centre in Darlington prompted some members of Long Newton Club to come to Stockton instead and numbers have increased.
The club eventually decided to move from Stockton Parish Church as the cost was increasing. A search for new premises resulted in a move to the more modern All Saints Centre at Eaglescliffe. However, this only lasted a few years as the Church decided they needed the hall for other purposes so the search was on again. From two possible venues the members chose the Yarm Fellowship Hall and the Club moved there in September 2009. Initially there were problems with the heating, but these are largely solved.
Stockton has kept well up to date with the developments in IT. We were an early adopter of the EBU CASS scoring software and when this was discontinued we purchased the Scorebridge program. Recently we have invested in the BridgeScorer system whereby scores are entered into table top entry devices and wirelessly transmitted to a central unit attached to a computer. The scores are automaticallly entered into Scorebridge and a final result is available within seconds of the last score being entered. The results are emailed to club members usually on the same night.
Stockton Bridge Club is a relatively small club but has a great history of providing players of a high calibre who have been winners in regional competitions on a fairly regular basis. Many members have also played for the N.E.B.A. in matches against other counties. After progressing trough the various divisions of the N.E.B.A. Inter Club competition during the seventies and early eighties the Stockton "A" team won the Inter Club "A" division trophy for their first time in 1986. Stockton also won the John Clark Salver as the N.E.B.A.'s champion club in2002.