Ernest Arthur Lewcock

Winner of the club championship in 1916.

By Brian Denman

Ernest Arthur Lewcock was a native of London who came to Hastings at about the beginning of the twentieth century. He opened a small cafe in Pelham Street and by means of hard work and an unfailing attention to business he gradually extended his premises. His fame as a caterer spread until he became known practically all over the South of England. Year after year he was asked to cater for large parties of day visitors. On many occasions he served as many as 1,000 luncheons or teas in a day. He was no figure head and worked calmly with his staff. His pleasant personality and unfailing tact made him exceedingly popular with his customers. He was a man of varying interests, intellectual and well-read, and full of sound practical business and common sense. As well as chess, he was keenly interested in football and at one time was president of the Rangers Football Club (N.B. presumably the Hastings Rangers FC). He was an interested spectator of snooker and other sports and pastimes appealed to him.

My first reference to his playing for the Hastings CC is in the 1901-2 season. He seems to have made his county debut in a correspondence match against Devon in the 1905-6 season. Although he played other correspondence matches for Sussex before World War I, I have not been able to find any record of his playing ‘over-the-board’ for the county until 1922. After that he played a number of such games. He played regularly for Hastings for many years and in 1916 won the club championship. His best performance, however, may have been in reaching the semi-final of the county championship in 1929.

After World War I Lewcock played a significant role in the Chess Player’s Home organisation which was set up to purchase the lease of 7 Carlisle Parade for the chess club. In 1927 he was elected to the post of treasurer of the club. He eventually gave up this position ten years later and for a similar period he was the tournament director for the congresses. He allowed his restaurant to be used for some county matches in the late 1920s and 1930s and the club played a combined Oxford and Cambridge University team there in 1931 (and probably 1932 and 1933 as well).

In 1938 when he was too unwell to attend the AGM, a deputation of club officers visited him and handed him a testimonial in recognition of his service as treasurer and tournament director. He was greatly touched by this and reciprocated by expressing a wish to give a valuable donation to the congress shortly to be organised. During World War II he gave up his business and moved to Whatlington, near Battle. He died there on 30.7.1941 at the age of 71.

Est. 1882