Club history 1: St Paul's Road

The West of England Bridge Club was founded in 1984 by Jane Preddy, an international player. Other expert players involved in the setting-up and running of the club included David Carlisle, Marc Smith, Andrew Thompson and John Gair. The club was based in St Paul’s Road, Clifton in a four-storey house with playing and teaching facilities on two floors and a bar in the basement.

The bar was a crucial part of the early ethos of the club, which was for it to be a club for bridge players rather than just a bridge club. Rubber bridge was played to a high standard, sometimes for money, in the afternoons and early evenings, with a host of colourful characters, often given nicknames. Teaching bridge was an important part of the club and Jane was a fine teacher. An early star pupil was Andrew Robson, now one of the world’s best players but then an undergraduate at Bristol University. Occasional events included a popular annual 24-hour bridge marathon. This was the first club locally to introduce computer scoring.

Club history 2: the YMCA

When Jane Preddy sold the Clifton premises and moved away, the club moved briefly to the YMCA building on Colston Street in central Bristol, where the theatre was used for bridge, then moved on to its third home in 1989.

Club history 3: the Polish Church

The club's home for 20 years was the Polish Church on Arley Hill/Cheltenham Road. The church, being Catholic, had a bar, and bridge was played up to five nights a week under the gaze of Pope John Paul II from a large portrait. The club thrived, but demand for the main duplicate session on Monday nights often meant that latecomers had to be seated in the ‘back room’ surrounded by cardboard boxes and prayer books. Friday night saw a regular league of teams, and teams are still played on Fridays when possible. 

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Club history 4: Golden Hill

In 2009 the club had to leave the Polish Church, and after much searching moved into premises leased from the Golden Hill Sports Club for three evenings a week. The additional weekly session of coaching for Improvers started on Thursday afternoons in April 2015.

The club celebrated its 30th anniversary in the summer of 2014 with a special evening and a commemorative magazine, a copy of which can be downloaded here (24pp, 1.6 MB pdf). Its long tradition of a popular Christmas party continued, together with other themed events during the year.

The club moved temporarily to Henleaze Bowling Club in autumn 2018 while Golden Hill Sports undertook refurbishment, returning to a smarter venue with new facilities from December 2018.

Club history 5: the RAFA Club

Increased rent led the club to search for other premises in late 2019, and a move to the RAFA Club in Westbury-on-Trym was finally agreed for summer 2020. Considerable refurbishment and decoration was carried out, and new furniture purchased, before moving in, but the move was carried out while the club was closed. From March 2020 to September 2021 the club was shut as a result of the restrictions enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic. Bridge thrived online during the lockdowns, and the effects were noticeable when the club reopened. Monday evenings proved unsustainable, but afternoon bridge became more popular on first Mondays and then Fridays.

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