North West's first chess venue seeks funding to stay open

Sam Taylor went to the official opening of Eccles Community Chess Club.

One of the first dedicated chess venues in the region has officially opened - but has just four months to find funding and secure its future.

After playing in its members' living rooms for five years, Eccles Community Chess Club opened its first venue on Saturday 20 January.

With the new space on Eccles high street, the club plans to make chess more accessible to the town's residents while also offering a place for them to socialise.

One of its founders, Barbara Farrar, said: "We can make Eccles a better place. Get people off the streets, get lonely people out of their houses.

"Chess is a beautiful game, and it does actually create a lot of enjoyment."

Club members celebrating the opening of their first venue. Credit: ITV

While its founders and members have covered the costs of running the club for its first few months, they warn that without funding the venue will soon be unaffordable.

Barbara said: "We need to keep this venue going to keep facilitating chess. We've gone from four members to 40, we've gone from E-Division to A-Division in two years.

"We want to keep doing the good work we're doing but we can't continue to pay for it out of our own pocket."

With funding, not only could the club afford to keep the venue, but also cater to different communities that are underrepresented in the world of chess.

"I'd like more ladies to play chess. Chess is a male dominated game, so I'd like an all-ladies night to get more women into the game," she added.

Mayor Gina Reynolds cutting the ribbon to declare the venue open. Credit: ITV

The opening of the venue was celebrated with live music, bellringing, and a selection of chess-themed eccles cakes.

The ribbon was then cut by Salford's Ceremonial Mayor Gina Reynolds, before she unveiled the venue's sign.

She said: "I'm really delighted that I've been asked to open Eccles Community Chess Club because I think it's so unique and a safe and inclusive space.

"Most chess clubs in Salford have to play in public houses or their own home, so it's just great that they have their own space."

The club is the latest addition to Eccles' town centre, which is undergoing a transformation as Salford City Council aim to rejuvenate the once-thriving high street and market.

"I think it's really important that we have a mix of retail, clubs, and spaces for the community. They can bring people into Eccles," Mayor Reynolds added.

"Quite a lot of the club members here are from outside of Salford, so it's bringing them into a different town."

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