SHEFFIELD Chess History



Thomas William Crabb

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21/06/1895, Nettlesworth, Co. Durham




29/10/1960, Sheffield


02/11/1960, City Road Cemetery, Sheffield


Identity of the Chess Player


“T. W. Crabb” played frequently for Woodseats Friends between the World Wars.  There can be little doubt as to the chess-player being the Thomas William Crabb who lived in the Heeley area of Sheffield.  The identification of this Sheffielder with the Thomas William Crabb of the same age who was born in Co. Durham is based on the fact that when the Thomas William Crabb residing in 1916 at 246 Albert Road, Heeley, Sheffield, enlisted in the army, he joined the 75th Durham Light Infantry rather than a West Riding corps.  No more-locally bred individual of the name is evident.


Non-Chess Life


Thomas William Crabb was the only child (up to 1911, at least) of Ezekiel Crabb (born 1866/67, Elsecown(??), Essex) and Mary Jane Crabb (née Dobson, 1866/67, Kimblesworth Farm, Kimblesworth, Co.Durham), who were married at Chester-le Street, Co. Durham, in 1887.  He was born in 1895 at Nettlesworth, Co. Durham, which is a small village adjoining Kimblesworth, which in turn was a mining village on the Durham coalfield.


The 1901 census found the three Crabbs, parents and 6-year-old son, living on The Green, Seaton Carew, Co. Durham.  Father Ezekiel was employed as a pipe-fitter.


The 1911 census found the family of three living at 70 Beaumont Terrace, Gosforth, Northumberland.  Father Ezekiel was now a coalminer, while 16-year-old Thomas worked in the lamp cabin of a colliery.


A Thomas William Crabb appeared at some stage in Sheffield, and in 1916 resided at 246 Albert Road, where John Jones was recorded as the householder, in White’s directory of Sheffield & Rotherham.  That this was the Nettlesworth-born Thomas William Crabb is supported by the fact that when he enlisted in the army, on 16/10(?)/1916, he joined the Durham Light Infantry, which would be a strange choice in the absence of a pre-existing link with Co. Durham.  His enlisting papers recorded him as an unmarried labourer aged 21 years and 4 months.  The month of the date of enlisting in unclear.  Medically, he had been classed as B/II, and was described as “Fit for service abroad, but not fit for general service.”


There was a marriage of a Thomas Crabb (no middle name) to Elizabeth Rayner, in 1938, in Sheffield.  It rather looks as though an elderly Thomas Crabb was marrying a much younger woman.


In 1939, unmarried Thomas W Crabb (born 21/06/1895), a steel labourer, lived at 145 Richards Road (not far from Albert Road), Sheffield, with married couple Thomas Crabb (born 20/11/1867), a wood-cutting machinist and Elizabeth (born 08/10/1897).


In October 1943, this Thomas Crabb, resident at 145 Richards Road, Sheffield, died at the age of 75, and was buried at Sheffield’s City Road Cemetery on 27/10/1943.


Kelly’s Sheffield & Rotherham directory of 1959 listed Mrs Elizabeth Crabb still at 145 Richards Road, Sheffield.  This all suggests Thomas William Crabb was perhaps a nephew of the above Thomas Crabb, and “step-nephew” of Elizabeth Crabb.


Thomas William Crabb seemingly never married.  By trade he was recorded as a labourer.




Thomas William Crabb of 145 Richards Road, Sheffield, died aged 65 on 29/10/1960.  He was buried at Sheffield’s City Road Cemetery on 02/11/1960.  Probate was granted to Elizabeth Crabb.




“T. W. Crabb” was a regular player for Woodseats Friends in Sheffield & District Chess Association competitions between the World Wars, being a contemporary, at Woodseats Friends, of Arnold Wistow Jenkinson, Henry Clark, J. R. Clark, Charles Arthur Dixon and W. Oxley, amongst other.


The T. W. Crabb Shield which bears his name was presumably presented by him, though may have been named in his honour.





Copyright © 2014, 2016 Stephen John Mann

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