About Us

Our Story

Elizabeth House Bridge Club (July 2012)

(Written by Brenda Hutton)

Leinster House

It all started off 25 years ago at the Leinster Bridge Club. This was a private club with rooms in historic Leinster House in Merivale. The Club had been bought from the group of people who owned it by Graeme Tuffnell and Emma Barrack and run by them several nights a week and Wednesday afternoons.

After a while rent for rooms in Leinster House was increased and the club decided it was no longer a viable proposition. Most of the Leinster Bridge Club closed but the Wednesday group was very keen to continue and got together to see what could be done.

Elizabeth House

At that time Lorraine Wyse was secretary of the Royal Commonwealth Society which was a part owner of the Elizabeth House which operated as a venue for weddings and other functions also in Merivale. Lorraine contacted the committee and they agreed to permit our group to use the downstairs part of the house on Wednesday afternoons.

We had a meeting in the board room at Elizabeth House. Phyllis Wallace agreed to act as Director for the group as long as she could play bridge at the same time and I (Brenda Hutton) agreed to handle the money as I had experience in accounting. Lorraine Wyse had the title of “Convenor” and she was the liaison with the Commonwealth Society.

The relationship between the Society and the Bridge Club was not well defined. The Bridge Club was to be called the Royal Commonwealth Society Bridge Club. We had our own bank account and paid rent to the Commonwealth Society but they included our balance sheet with theirs. After a while they insisted that our members also become members of the Commonwealth Society at a subscription of $25.00 per year. This did not go down too well with our members when they were only able to play bridge one afternoon a week and, mostly, were uninterested in the activities of the Society. We may have lost a few members over this but mostly we agreed to this stipulation, as our table fees and subscriptions were very reasonable.

We started off as a small group of about 3 tables in the library of Elizabeth House using tables lent or donated by members. They had to be set up and put away each session. Not long before the Leinster Club finished up, we had all paid a year’s subscription in advance to Graeme so he agreed to give us equipment in the form of side tables, cards and boards and the Howell system information in lieu of repayment. In this way we were able to start playing bridge. We gradually built up our stock of tables over the years by purchasing second-hand tables or cheap specials so that the members did not have to bring tables with them to each session.

Over the years our membership increased and we had up to ten tables which was about all the rooms could accommodate. We did not make a lot of money but managed to keep our heads above water and even managed to have paid directors. Luckily, in spite of the rather loose financial arrangement, we were able to retain our bank account. The assets we had acquired, but were now not needed, were sold and the funds retained by the Club.

Elizabeth Bridge Club

Further to Brenda’s story

Christchurch Bridge Club rooms

Phyllis decided that the dual jobs were too difficult, and Derek Frapwell was engaged as a Director. He continued the practice of being available to play if needed. In 2005 the club moved to the Christchurch Bridge Club rooms as Elizabeth House was to be sold. Our name was changed to Elizabeth Bridge Club to reflect our changed circumstances and continued to thrive.

The earthquakes of 2011 and 2012 caused major damage to the Christchurch Bridge Club and we moved to Crockfords’ rooms to continue playing. Two years later we moved back to the new building of the Christchurch Bridge Club and members enjoyed the change to a more permanent venue.

The changes have been many and members have kept pace with technology, Gone are the travellers, table slips, and match scoring. Boards are now pre-dealt and scores are entered on tablets – one tablet per table.

The Club welcomes new members and we normally get 14+ tables of happy players. The results are transferred to the Web and are available before players get to their homes.

Brenda Hutton is our Patron and long-standing member and Life Member. Peg Calder was also a Life Member. Sadly she died in August 2020. The club is managed by a committee headed by the executive of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Our subscriptions and table fees are very reasonable and afternoon tea is served with biscuits at each bridge session.